Studies/Reports

Global potato market report: ‘Global supply to be lower’

It looks like being a tough season for potatoes across much of the world. The hot dry weather during the growing season in most production countries has had a severe effect on potatoes, as for many other crops, as FreshPlaza reports in an extensive overview of the potato market situation in many potato producing regions and countries around the world.

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Smart farming: Researchers brainstorm on potato vine removal

Researchers at the Canada-Manitoba Crop Diversification Centre (CMCDC) are looking for ideas that would lessen the labour of removing green potato vines in the fall, as Alexis Stockford reports for Manitoba Co-operator. The practice is pitched as a control measure against pathogens such as black dot, verticillium wilt, early blight and other diseases that carry over in potato crop residue.

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Survey: Retail potato prices jump 60% in Britain, farmers say the worst is still to come

The prices of basic foods including chicken, vegetables, milk and potatoes have increased by up to 60% in local supermarkets in Britain over the last six months. According to a report by Joel Adams for Eastern Daily Press (EDP), a standard 2.5kg bag of white potatoes in both Sainsbury’s and Tesco are now an eye-watering 61 or 62% more expensive than in April respectively, and have shot up 51% in Aldi too. Norfolk potato farmers said retail prices continue to climb through the autumn.

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NEPG: Potato production down due to climate change, quality and storage problems expected

The North Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) estimates that potato production in the NEPG zone (EU-04) countries will on average be down by between 7 and 11 percent, with Belgian and French farmers most affected. The heat waves experienced in Europe throughout the summer would also have caused some quality and storage issues. With very much higher input costs and higher risks linked to climate change and the war in Ukraine, there is uncertainty about the 2023 season.

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Canadian govt set ‘unrealistic emissions targets’ for fertilizer use, industry insists

A new industry-led report suggests Canada’s farmers can likely only achieve half of the federal government’s targeted 30 per cent reduction in fertilizer emissions by 2030, as Amanda Stephenson reports for Canada’s National Observer. The report concludes that it may be possible to achieve a 14 per cent reduction in emissions from fertilizer by 2030, but that reaching 30 per cent is not “realistically achievable without imposing significant costs on Canada’s crop producers”.

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Canadian ‘weed hunters’ set their sights on natural alternatives to herbicides

‘Weed hunters’? No, it’s not a joke. It’s a real concept that aims to tackle a serious and costly problem for farmers and their crops – herbicide resistance in weeds. The technique is called “abrasive or projectile weed control”. Using a sandblaster, natural materials like corn grit, corn gluten meal, and walnut shells are “shot” directly at weeds. Researchers found this alternative to herbicides was an effective way of killing weeds.

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‘Net Zero Hectare’ project: British potato partners secure £2 million investment funding

UK fresh produce innovators have successfully won major funding towards collaborative research to sustainably change the way that potatoes are grown, stored and transported. The Net Zero Hectare project is led by the nation’s leading potato supplier Branston in partnership with B-hive Innovations, Crop Systems Ltd, The University of Lincoln, David Armstrong Farms, and Arbikie Distillery. The objective of the project is to investigate new methods to contribute towards a net zero carbon supply chain for potato crop.

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Univ of Nevada researcher studying beneficial microbes, potato storage diseases

Masaki Shimono has joined the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources at the University of Nevada, Reno as a research scientist, studying beneficial microbes to improve and mitigate disease in potatoes during storage. He is looking into how long-term storage conditions affect potatoes in terms of water loss and disease decay due to plant pathogens. Soft and dry rot, caused by bacterium and fungus, respectively, are two important diseases being investigated.

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CIP, USAID execute gender-responsive program to promote, expand potato sector in the Republic of Georgia

Potato is a mainstay of the diet of many people in the Republic of Georgia, but farmers have trouble meeting demand due to average yields of only 12 tons per hectare. To address this dilemma, the International Potato Center (CIP) has partnered with USAID, farmers, the private sector, the Georgian government and civil society organizations, to execute the Georgia Potato Program. It uses a gender-responsive, socially-inclusive approach to promote innovations and improved agronomic practices to expand Georgia’s potato sector.

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CIP’s Annual Report 2021 ‘From lab to field to scale’ now available online

The Lima-based International Potato Center’s (CIP) work to reduce hunger and malnutrition, boost farmer resilience, and catalyze income improvements generated benefits for men and women in more than 30 countries last year. To communicate some of those achievements and give people a sense of how CIP harnesses science to improve lives and livelihoods, the organization included varied examples in CIP’s Annual Report 2021: From lab to field to scale, which is now available online.

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How can we improve soil health in potato cropping systems?

Minimizing soil disturbance is one of the key tenets promoted to build soil health in agricultural systems. Many farmers across the country have adopted reduced and no-till systems to build soil carbon, a central component to healthy soils. The Soil Science Society of America’s (SSSA) August 1st Soils Matter blog explores options to improve soil health for crops that grow underground – like potatoes.

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Quest for novel fungicides: Researchers exploiting soil microbiomes in the fight against potato late blight

Natural organisms found in soil and their use as novel fungicides is being explored in a new collaborative project to help farmers overcome potato late blight. The work centres on utilising the latest cutting-edge technology to analyse soil microbiomes – the complex interaction of billions of microbial organisms found within soil. The aim is to identify bacteria with fungicidal properties against Phytophthora infestans, with a view to harvesting the active compounds.

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The ‘potato vine crusher’: New take on an old invention could help potato farmers crush the weed competition

Scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) tested the effectiveness of previously designed equipment, the ‘potato vine crusher’, on reducing common lambs quarter, redroot pigweed, barnyard grass, yellow foxtail and volunteer canola weeds that are found in potato crops. The results of the potato vine crusher’s ability to reduce weed pressure was impressive for Dr. McKenzie-Gopsill and his team at AAFC.

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Report: Sharp rise in input costs, increased holding levels impacting planted potato acreage in Canada

Earlier this month Statistics Canada released their first estimate of potato acreage in Canada as a result of data obtained from their survey of potato growers in Canada. The 2022 potato acreage is estimated at 385,128 acres. This is almost flat compared to 2021, only 242 acres more. Significant rises in input costs – fertilizer and fuel predominantly – coupled with increased holding levels in some of the Eastern provinces, impacted seeded acreage in 2022.

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Researchers discover that Colorado potato beetles regrow muscles on demand

New research from Western University has found potato beetles can break down and regrow muscles on demand, allowing them to preserve energy over the winter, as Jeff Renaud of the University of Western Ontario reports in this article published by Phys.Org. This explains how beetles are able to save energy all winter, yet be ready fly and mate immediately in the spring.

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First estimate of potato area planted in North-West European countries.

The total area of potatoes in the four North-West European countries (Germany, Belgium, France and the Netherlands) is expected to increase on average by 2% in 2022 to reach 507,300 hectares (+10,100 hectares). The North Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) reports the following figures: +3.2% in Belgium (92,558 hectares), +1.5% in Germany (185,800 hectares), +2% in France (156,162 hectares), and +2% in the Netherlands (72,816 hectares).

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Frito-Lay snacking survey: Consumers go beyond just flavors, look to companies’ promises when choosing a snack

The latest U.S. Trend Index from Frito-Lay polled consumers on their snacking preferences and priorities and found that the 90 percent of consumers who snack daily care about the companies whose snacks they’re eating. Snack companies’ attention to sustainability practices (77 percent), community impact around food access (78 percent), and treatment of employees (87 percent) are among the top values driving purchasing decisions.

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Clamping down on PCN: New study to help farmers improve trap crop success

Improving the reliability of trap cropping to help farmers overcome potato cyst nematode (PCN) pressure, is being investigated as part of a new feasibility study, funded by Defra and Innovate UK. The project will look at ‘DeCyst solanaceous’ trap crops, which stimulate PCN to hatch at a different point in the rotation to when potatoes are planted. As a result, mature female PCN are prevented from completing their lifecycle, reducing the impact on potato crops.

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Canadian research: Using hyperspectral imaging technology to test potato quality more quickly, efficiently

Currently, the traditional way to find out whether or not a potato is good to go to market is basic and old-fashioned – cut it open and look to see if there are defects. A new research project at Lethbridge College aims to use cutting-edge near-infrared (NIR) hyperspectral imaging technology to test potato quality such as internal defects, greening and specific gravity more quickly and efficiently.

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‘Progress Together’: Lamb Weston issues new sustainability report

Lamb Weston Holdings issued its third annual Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) report today, reporting progress against 2030 ESG goals announced in its last report. “Our teams are committed to working together to make progress against our ambitious 2030 goals,” said Tom Werner, CEO, Lamb Weston. “We’re focused on our long-term future, which means making meaningful changes to reduce our impact on the environment.”

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Sharp increase in packing costs for Idaho potato growers

The cost of packing Idaho’s most famous commodity, potatoes, has risen at least 36 percent over the past two years. That’s according to a new report funded by the Idaho Grower Shippers Association (IGSA), which represents shippers, growers, marketers and processors of Idaho potatoes. “That’s a pretty big increase,” said IGSA President Shawn Boyle. “It’s pretty drastic.”

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McCain Foods India releases second edition of Sustainability Report

McCain Foods has launched the second edition of the India Sustainability Report 2021 – titled ‘Together-Towards Planet-Friendly Food’ earlier this week, highlighting the steps taken by the company towards delivering planet-friendly food, encouraging the use of sustainable practices and helping communities thrive with a sustainable livelihood.

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Univ of Idaho research studies herbicide damage to potatoes caused by heavy rainfall

Farmers throughout southern and eastern Idaho were befuddled by the bizarre symptoms of crop damage that surfaced in their potato fields following a brief period of heavy rainfall in May of 2017. Pam Hutchinson, University of Idaho Extension potato cropping systems weed specialist, has studied the problem – heavy rains prior to potato emergence can move herbicides too deep into the soil, where they’re more accessible by shoots and tuber roots than usual, which could, in turn, cause crop damage.

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Potato planted area in Europe forecast to remain stable amid increased input costs

According to market participants, preliminary estimations show that there is expected to be a marginal growth in the area devoted to potato production, if any, within Europe for the upcoming 2022/23 season. As Mintec reports, growers have faced significant rises in various input costs, including fuel, fertiliser, electricity and labour, and this is expected to have influenced planting decisions for the 2022/23 potato season.

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