Studies/Reports

Interseeding cultivation method shows early promise to reduce nitrate leaching

A two-year project funded through the University of Wisconsin-Water Resources Institute is investigating an interseeding cultivation method for potato cropping that shows early promise to reduce nitrate leaching. Researcher Kevin Masarik from UW-Stevens Point is pursuing what he termed an outside-the-box idea – interseeding rye, oat and millet between the rows of potatoes to create biomass to take up excess nitrates.

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AHDB: ‘What we’ve learned from 17 years of Fight Against Blight data’

AHDB’s Fight Against Blight programme started in 2004 and since then ‘blight scouts’ have sent in over 10,000 samples of potentially blight infested potato plants for genotyping. Each year the results are published because knowing the location of outbreaks and the dominant genotypes, allows for better prevention of the disease. This has been particularly valuable when genotypes behave differently to the norm, for example if they are insensitive to a certain treatment, or if they aggressively reproduce more quickly than typical spray cycles.

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Canadian researcher leading the fight against blackleg of potato

Dr. Michele Konschuh, a research associate in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Lethbridge in Canada’s Alberta province, is leading a study to help ensure Alberta’s potato industry stays healthy. Blackleg is caused by Pectobacterium and Dickeya bacteria. Of the two, Dickeya is especially aggressive. “The one we have in Alberta is caused by Pectobacterium species. At this time, we have no Dickeya and we want to keep it that way,” says Konschuh.

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Potatoes USA: Retail sales dip after yearlong streak of record-high sales

Potatoes USA reports that potato sales for Q3 (January – March 2021) of Marketing Year 2021 have caught up to the changed buying habits that the pandemic brought about. March 2020 was an unprecedented time for potato sales in grocery stores as panic buying began a yearlong streak of record-high sales in dollars and volume. It is no surprise that sales in March of 2021 could not keep up with the buying patterns that occurred in that crazy month a year ago.

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Late blight studies reveal evolution of potato disease in Europe and Asia

Plant scientists at the James Hutton Institute are studying the evolution of late blight in potato by working with industry and research partners to track the distribution and diversity of dominant clones in Europe in 2020, and have also contributed to a review into the development of the disease in Asia in the last 150 years, as part of global efforts to improve the sustainable production of healthy potato crops.

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What’s next for the frozen food trend?

After a stunning year of growth for frozen food, Specialty Food magazine looks into where the thriving sector will go from here. The resurgence of the freezer shows that time-pressed shoppers are looking for simple meals that don’t compromise on taste: an area where the fine frozen food industry excels. Demand for frozen fruits, vegetables and herbs is on the rise. There is one area that has fared as well as the rest of the frozen and chilled food market over the past year: ready meals.

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‘The year everyone learned to cook at home’: Side Delights shares data on home-cooking habits

While restaurants across the US continue to open, more Americans are still cooking at home more now than they did before the pandemic began. Consumers reported cooking slightly less than half of their meals at home before the onset of COVID-19. Not surprisingly, this increased to 66% in April 2020 and remained elevated at 54% as of August – which Cooking Light magazine referred to as “The year everyone learned to cook at home.”

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Lambweston / Meijer Sustainability Report: ‘Eat balanced, don’t waste food and care about the climate’

Lamb Weston / Meijer defines 3 key sustainability challenges for 2030: ‘Balanced Diet, Zero Waste and Climate Action’. These are disclosed in its sustainability report 2019-2020, which was published last week. The report shows that most of the 2020 goals are reached. Compared to the reference year 2008, 90% of its frozen products are pre-fried in healthier vegetable oil, low in saturated fat.

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KisanHub report: ‘Environmental and financial sustainability in fresh food production – The role technology plays’

Agriculture’s digital revolution has potential to benefit both business and planet, with sustainability quickly becoming a priority in the industry, KisanHub specialists say in a newly released report. They say say this pressure to take action has been increased during the past 12-months, which have shown how global factors, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, affect our food system and the ‘normal’ way of growing and supplying fresh produce has had to adjust.

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Coming to terms with the virus issue: An integrated approach for PVY

Seed potato producers are leaving no stone unturned to slow the proliferation of virus in British stocks, with straw mulches and mineral oils set to compliment systemic insecticides as part of a robust integrated pest management (IPM) strategy this year, write Rob Jones and Lucy de la Pasture in this in-depth article, published by crop production magazine (CPM).

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Deadlock: Much concern about seed potato trade with the UK

There seems to be little hope for an imminent agreement between the EU and the UK on mutual trade in seed potatoes. If no agreement is reached on the phytosanitary preconditions for import and export, there is a good chance that the export of seed potatoes from EU countries to the UK will be resolutely closed on 1 July. This is what Dick Hylkema, director of the Dutch Potato Organization (NAO) fears.

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Weed busters: Scottish Agronomy lists best residuals for weeds in potatoes

As the potato season edges closer, growers will be pondering herbicide programmes and asking which strategy is likely to deliver the greatest bang for their buck. Ken Fletcher, Editor of The Scottish Farmer writes that the first decision confronting growers will be whether to use metribuzin, or not? With it, weed control is almost always easier and less expensive, but the long list of varieties sensitive to this substance means many growers have to consider the alternatives.

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Pesticides and food: ‘It’s not a black or white issue’

In 1962, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring drew attention to pesticides and their possible dangers to humans, birds, mammals and the environment. Some of her conclusions and warnings have not held up over time, but Silent Spring produced a movement that changed how the U.S. thought about chemicals and biotechnology.

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COVID-19 compliance costly for Washington State potato growers, packers

In a recently completed survey by the IMPACT Center at Washington State University, it was found that Washington State farm families’ direct compliance outlays to manage COVID-10 were roughly $2,532 per month. Direct compliance outlays were found to be much higher for those businesses packing potatoes at $4,340 per month.

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Feed the Future – Biotechnology Potato Partnership: Annual report released

The Feed the Future – Biotechnology Potato Partnership (BPP) is a five-year, $5.9 million multi-institution cooperative agreement between MSU, USAID, Simplot Company and other global institutions to develop and bring to market improved potato products in farmer- and consumer-preferred varieties in Asian countries. BPP offers biotech potato products with broad-spectrum resistance to late blight. The BPP annual report for FY 2020 is now available.

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‘Thievery’: First known gene transfer from plant to insect identified

A pernicious agricultural pest owes some of its success to a gene pilfered from its plant host millions of years ago. The research finding is the first known example of a natural gene transfer from a plant to an insect. It also explains one reason why the sweet potato whitefly Bemisia tabaci is so adept at munching on crops: the gene that it swiped from plants long ago enables it to neutralize a toxin that some plants produce to defend against insects.

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Canadian researchers pursue anti-virulence strategy in fight against common scab, antibiotic resistant bacteria

In the ongoing war against antibiotic resistant bacteria, a change in battle tactics may prove effective for controlling common scab of potatoes and potentially other toxins that affect humans and animals, according to Canadian Light Source Inc. The approach that Dr. Rod Merrill at the University of Guelph and his research group are pursuing is an anti-virulence strategy – finding or designing small molecules that inhibit the tools bacteria use to colonize the host and create infection.

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Sustainability for the agriculture industry: The era of precision ag has arrived

In celebrating National Agriculture Week and National Ag Day the past week, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) in the US published this article to highlight the role that precision agriculture plays in sustainability for the agriculture industry. “For the environmental benefits of precision agriculture to take shape, farmers need to generate more yield and at least break even from a financial standpoint,” said AEM Senior Vice President of Ag Services Curt Blades. “Technology now affords farmers the ability to do even more — things that could never have happened before.

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Study: ‘Grower knowledge is central to improving PCN management’

It is widely accepted that potato cyst nematodes are a serious threat to the viability of potato production and yet despite efforts to promote better management practices the area of infested land continues to increase. There are many explanations for this trend in the UK, not least the lack of market acceptance to those varieties with good resistance, which is considered essential to reducing populations, but the dwindling supply of clean land is also a serious concern, according to an article by Bayer Crop Science in the UK.

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‘Green Headlands’ boost soil health and fertility

Planting a “Green Headland” on uncropped areas around potato and field vegetable crops can capture nutrients worth £200/ha over the growing season. That will not only help the following crop, but importantly retain those nutrients in the field and minimise environmental losses, according to Syngenta Environmental Initiatives Manager, Belinda Bailey.

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Pre-packed potatoes make a comeback during pandemic year in Britain

Throughout 2019, pre-packed potatoes lost out to loose potatoes as consumer concerns around plastic rose. However, as the coronavirus pandemic hit, this reversed, according to a report by Rebecca Gladman, Retail Insight Manager at AHDB. She reports that pre-packed potatoes’ share of volume reached 94.4% in the 12 w/e 21 Feb 2021 – an increase pof 1.6 percentage points on 2020 and the highest level it’s been at for around five years (Kantar).

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Finding the ‘sprightly spud’: HZPC’s search for the secret to seed potato vitality

Since 2018, HZPC and Averis Seeds have been collaborating in the “Flight to Vitality” research project. It is a quest for the factors that influence the germination capacity – and therefore the vitality – of seed potatoes. At the end of 2021, when the practical investigation is completed, the company says it is hoping that the mystery will be solved. The answer to one question has always remained unanswered: how is it possible that seed potatoes sometimes grow much better and faster than at other times?

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