Cold weather, national lockdown dull potato demand in Britain

Throughout February, free-buy and contract demand remained quiet across the board. Cold and snowy weather at the start of February, combined with the national lockdown, curbed many opportunities to eat out-of-home, therefore dulling demand. February saw the release of the GB end of January stocks figures . This pegged grower held stocks at 2.11Mt, 39% of total production. This is 47.36Kt lower than last year but 40.86Kt higher than the 5-year average

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NEPG reports lower processing contract prices and higher production costs for growers

According to the North-Western Potato Growers (NEPG), processing contract prices for the coming season have been published in recent weeks. The industry body says in a press release that contract prices for delivery ex-field in October-November are generally lower than last season – between 5 and 10% . At the end of the season (May-June 2022), the decline is less, and in most cases prices are slightly higher than those for the 2020-2021 season.

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Pandemic slashed Belgian potato sector, processing volume down

No one could miss it in the media last year: the corona pandemic slashed the Belgian potato sector. In the 2019-2020 season, where the free market was in balance, growers and buyers were from one day to the next confronted with a global lockdown and the collapse of the demand for potatoes by the hospitality and food service sectors, says the Belgian potato trade and processing industry association, Belgapom, in a press release.

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Virtual seminar on varieties, fungicide programs now available online

Last week Miller Research in Idaho hosted another of its online potato seminars. Dr Miller offered a virtual tour of Miller Research’s 2020 variety trial , showing the relative susceptibility of common russet cultivars to early blight/brown spot and white mold. He also discussed the strengths of different fungicide programs.

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Potato pathologist discusses the emergence and prevalence of potato mop top virus

In a recent presentation, Dr. Julie Pasche, potato pathologist at North Dakota State University (NDSU), discusses the emergence and prevalence of potato mop top virus (PMTV). Dr. Pasche says in her presentation that potato mop top virus is present in many potato growing countries around the world. Studies that were conducted in the US and Canada looked at about three thousand seed lots and found that approximately four percent of them were positive for PMTV.

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Report: ‘Making carbon farming America’s next cash crop’

America’s farms were struggling just to make a profit even before the COVID-19 pandemic, but long-ignored soil practices could provide new revenue opportunities and long-term profitability for thousands of hard-hit farms across the US, according to a new report from E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs). The new analysis details why the US’s downturned farm economy needs to make carbon farming America’s next cash crop.

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Canadian scientists help to develop new weapon in the war against wireworms

For many years, farmers have struggled with limited options to control wireworms, leading to crop damage and loss. Now, thanks to support efforts from three Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) research scientists, farmers have a new wireworm defence in their arsenal. The AAFC researchers have been assessing the performance of Broflanilide on cereal and potato crops at the Harrington Research Farm in PEI, the Agassiz Research Farm in BC, and with local farmers.

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WUR researcher: ‘Early blight spread a warning to potato growers across Europe’

Across Europe growers are being encouraged to give greater thought to how they protect crops against early blight (Alternaria spp.). Speaking at the Bayer potato conference via video link from his office in the Netherlands, Bert Evenhuis of Wageningen University & Research, reported that a novel genotype of Alternaria solani has shown itself to be more aggressive than wild relatives and less well controlled by products containing pyraclostrobin, azoxystrobin and famoxadone.

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2021 British potato area set to decline?

The last 12 months have really taken their toll on potato markets. The coronavirus pandemic happened at one of the worst points within the potato growing cycle, and there was not much growers could do to reduce their area. Many growers may be thinking of reducing their area for 2021. How much could the area reduce by?

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Research: AI model successfully predicts potato susceptibility to bruising and acrylamide formation

JADBio is an information technology company based in the US and Greece, focused on BioMed and Multi-omics. In a recent experiment, researchers at JADBio collected data from 478 potato samples from potatoes grown in Germany (including climate, soil, and metabolic profiles) in order to create a model capable of differentiating potatoes that resist bruising from those that don’t, and also to predict the potatoes’ susceptibility to acrylamide formation during chip/crisp processing.

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Research: ‘Tunable crops are just a spray away’

The genetic control of crop growth and behaviour can be modified through traditional plant breeding or genetic engineering, but is fixed once a variety is sown. New spray-on viral transfection technology can transiently alter gene expression to “fine-tune” agronomic traits within the season while avoiding modifications to the genome according to recent research.

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The glyphosate debacle: Viewpoint on ‘a misleading study, gullible reporters, and a cancer scare’

“As biotech giant Bayer prepares to spend $10 billion settling thousands of lawsuits alleging its weedkiller Roundup (and its active ingredient glyphosate) causes cancer, we’re forced to address a crucial question: how does an herbicide deemed safe by regulators and scientists the world over become the whipping boy of tort lawyers and environmental groups with an ideological ax to grind?” So says Geoffrey Kabat in a recent article published by the Genetic Literacy Project (GLP).

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Zebrachip disease and potato psyllid: EFSA survey card helps preparing surveillance plans

Scientists recently updated the pest survey card that was prepared in the context of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) mandate on plant pest surveillance at the request of the European Commission. The authors say in the introduction to the document that its purpose is to guide the Member States in preparing data and information required for surveys of the causal agent of the zebra chip disease ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ (Lso) and its associated insect vector the psyllid Bactericera cockerelli.

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New research identifies best gene to confer durable resistance to late blight in potato

An international team of researchers has struck an important blow in the ongoing evolutionary arms race with the notorious potato disease late blight (Phytophthora infestans). This disease, which caused the Irish potato famine in the 1840s, continues to reduce potato yields today and can lead to devastating losses. A new gene and it’s relatives were found in the Solanum americanum plant and seem to provide potatoes resistance against all races of P. infestans . A publication on the new Rpi-amr1-gene appears today in the journal Nature Plants.

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2021 starts out quieter for UK potato markets

January has been a quieter month for potato markets. For most in the market, it has been more subdued than historically. Following the EU-exit agreement, exports of fresh potatoes have been able to continue, although there was some disruption at ports at the start of the month, reports AHDB Analyst Alex Cook. Processing sectors have seen reductions to demand levels from December. The market has been hit hard by the national closure of education sectors alongside dine-in hospitality.

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Varietal resistance to late blight: Most popular varieties in the UK assessed

Varietal resistance to late blight, including the newer strains which have become prevalent, can still make a real difference to control, David Wilson, AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager Potatoes in the UK told the online audience at the December 2020 Agronomy Week event. Performance of some of the most popular varieties were assessed with demonstration trials held by the AHDB at Eurofins in 2019.

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Idaho potato expert advises growers on minimizing tuber bruising

Nora Olsen, Professor and Extension Potato Specialist at the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Idaho, presented on the factors that impact development of bruises during the online annual Idaho Potato Conference last month. Prof Olsen started out by saying that her and her colleagues’ experience evaluating quality losses over the past several years, points to the primary association with either a direct impact, blackspot bruise or shadow bruise, or an indirect impact.

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New decision-making tool to calculate tuber numbers, predict yield

Growers should soon be able to assess the variation in potato plant populations at field scale at any given time. This is thanks to work done by Harper Adams University, AHDB funded PhD student Joseph Mhango. His new decision-making tool uses artificial intelligence known as Deep Learning alongside drone-taken images of the crops to calculate stem numbers, and map where they occur. This technique is able to detect objects, and is used for machine vision in self-driving cars.

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‘A better tuber rotter’: Pectobacterium parmentieri

Dr Eugenia Banks, potato specialist with the Ontario Potato Board in Canada, says in a recent email newsletter that Dr Steve Johnson (University of Maine) will give the first presentation of the upcoming Ontario Potato Webinars on March 4th at 11 a.m. His presentation will be titled “Expect Soft Rot and Blackleg to Increase!” Dr Johnson will focus on a very aggressive bacterium that cause soft rot and blackleg – Pectobacterium parmentieri. Dr Banks wrote a brief article about this bacterium – we publish it here with her permission.

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The power of the Idaho potato brand

In the end, 2020 was a pretty good year for Idaho’s iconic potato industry, but it sure wasn’t easy. That’s one of the main messages Idaho Potato Commission CEO Frank Muir delivered to lawmakers recently as he brought members of the House and Senate agricultural committees up to date on how the state’s spud industry fared last year. During his annual “state of the potato industry” address to Idaho legislators, Muir also spoke about the power of the Idaho potato brand and how it helps not only the spud industry but the entire state.

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Specialist opinion: Common scab revisited

In 2017 and 2018 Dr Eugenia Banks, Potato Specialist with the Ontario Potato Board in Canada, conducted common scab research that included the identification of the common scab bacteria present in Ontario potato fields. Dr Banks sampled 50 fields and submitted the soil samples to A & L Laboratories. A&L identified the different scab bacterium species using PCR. The results of the PCR tests indicated that Streptomyces stelliscabiei was the most common bacteria found followed by S. scabiei.

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Research trial highlights the benefits of cover crops for soil health

“We have to do anything we can to minimize the time soil is left bare without anything growing,” says Dr. Judith Nyiraneza, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada based in Prince Edward Island. Nyiraneza and Oyster Cove Farms in Prince Edward Island recently completed a two-year study to test the performance of cover crops planted following the potato harvest. A variety of cover crop options can help producers better manage soil health and reduce the environmental impacts of soil erosion.

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Where is the IPM potential for virus-vectoring aphid pests?

Addressing the increasing virus problem faced by seed potato growers may call for a re-think on how drills are planned and the implementation of effective IPM strategies to help combat the risk of virus-vectoring aphids developing insecticide resistance. Innovative research, led by Eric Anderson of Scottish Agronomy, has shown sowing spring barley around headlands and wildflowers along tramlines of seed potato fields can help to reduce virus incidence.

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Scottish on-farm research: Reductions in production costs, increased marketable yield

Potato growers Bruce Farms have been able to identify potential reductions in production costs by over £65 a hectare, while increasing marketable yield by over three tonnes. The improvements were a result of a three-year programme of trials as part of the AHDB Farm Excellence network. Findings were revealed on Thursday (12 December 2019) as almost 100 growers and agronomists gathered for the Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm Scotland Results Day.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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