Studies/Reports

Report: The global potato market hits record highs

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Potato – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. We re-publish a part of a summary of the report’s key findings below – the full summary can be viewed on the IndexBox website. The report says that in 2019, the global potato market increased by 6% to $140.5B, rising for the third consecutive year after two years of decline. The market value increased at an average annual rate of +3.0% from 2007 to 2019; the trend pattern indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded throughout the analyzed period. Over the period under review, the global market hits record highs in 2019.

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Research breakthrough: Fast-maturing, resilient potatoes in Hutton researchers’ sights

New research by James Hutton Institute plant scientists has found that a specific protein encoded by the potato genome is a key component of tuberisation – the process by which the potato plant initiates and develops tubers. It is hoped that the genetic discovery will be harnessed by potato breeders to develop fast-maturing, more resilient potato varieties that will safeguard production in an era of climate change, work that is being taken forward with industry partners.

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AHDB: Dealing with aphids in Britain during 2020 and beyond

The management of aphids, particularly those that transmit viruses, has been a focus of concern for potato growers in recent seasons in Britain. AHDB (virtually) sat down with Crop Protection Senior Scientist for Pests, Dr Sue Cowgill, to talk monitoring, testing and research projects that will help growers manage the issue.

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Talking Biotech: Where did GMOs come from? Former Monsanto scientist Robb Fraley recounts the advent of biotech crops

On the five-year anniversary of the Talking Biotech podcast published on the Genetic Literacy Project (GLP) website, host and plant geneticist Kevin Folta sits down with former Monsanto chief technology officer Robb Fraley. He recalls the race to transform plants and his work as a leader at Monsanto. While the company did important work to advance crop biotechnology, Fraley says, Monsanto made little effort to explain genetic engineering to food companies, the media and consumers and was thus unprepared for the backlash against GMOs in the 1990s.

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IFA: Retail potato demand in Ireland remains buoyant; rain across Europe welcomed

The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) says in its latest potato report that retail demand in Ireland remains buoyant, and as restrictions ease further on June 29th and restaurants can re-open, growers are reminded to supply the peeling market where possible. Once again rainfall across Europe in the past week was welcomed. Not everyone has had rain and some areas including Northern Holland and parts of Eastern England remain very dry.

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Canadian crop report: Dry growing conditions coast to coast

United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC) has released its latest crop update. Kevin MacIsaac, General Manager, reports that the Canadian potato crop is in the “growing stage”. There is a recurring theme from coast to coast: It is dry – but the crop is not suffering yet because it is in the early stages of development, but does need rain soon. UPGC provides a snapshot of the crop status and market across Canada

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Desiccation research: Reaching skinset depends on a range of factors

You cannot use what’s happening above ground as a guide to what’s happening below, according to new research into alternative desiccants. A key finding from research work in the UK is that the rate of foliage desiccation does not correlate well with that of skinset, the key to harvesting without damage. The discovery was among the key findings of a project examining the best alternative desiccants to diquat carried out by NIAB CUF on behalf of AHDB in the UK. The research focused on the ‘hard to stop’ situations such as indeterminate varieties and seed crops.

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Tuberzone 2020: A precision approach to predicting potato tuber growth

The Tuberzone project addresses the benefits of using precision technology to optimise the value of seed potato crops in the UK. Tuberzone partners support the use of Tuberzone software, developed by SoilEssentials, to help farmers make decisions on when to stop tuber growth to maximise yield, quality and value of Gemson seed potatoes.

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New book digs into the political history of potatoes

Rebecca Earle, food historian and professor at the University of Warwick, has spent several years tracing the history of the potato from its early origins in the Andes to the commonly consumed starch that makes it onto kitchen tables around the world. In her latest book, Feeding the People: The Politics of the Potato, Earle explains the crop’s evolution to become today’s global staple, but also dives into how the vegetable became central to government dietary policy over the years.

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Agriculture, engagement with female potato farmers central focus of PepsiCo’s sustainability approach

PepsiCo released its 2019 sustainability report, Helping to Build a More Sustainable Food System, just last week. Nearly 80% of PepsiCo’s main crops – including potatoes, corn, oats and oranges – are sourced sustainably, up from 51% in 2018. Explicit inclusion of women in farming initiatives is good business for PepsiCo, according to Simon Lowden, Chief Sustainability Officer at PepsiCo. For instance, the company has engaged with female potato farmers in rural areas in many countries.

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Herbicides – a season of replacements for British potato growers

Over the last three years, potato growers lost the approval for the most commonly used herbicides: linuron (in 2017) and diquat (in 2019), AHDB Potatoes says in a news release. It says weed control management has become a challenge, which experts are now trying to resolve by researching alternative options at the Strategic Farms trials. During the trials at the AHDB SPot Farms, two herbicide options have come forward: Emerger (aclonifen), and Shark (carfentrazone-ethyl).

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Late blight resistant potatoes in Uganda promise impressive returns

Potato is a popular crop in Uganda with great potential for income generation and improving nutrition. So much so that the Ugandan government has declared potato a key crop for the country. In Uganda, International Potato Center (CIP) partners with the National Agriculture Research Organization (NARO) to release and promote improved varieties of potato and sweetpotato. NARO and CIP have developed a new version of the Victoria variety by adding three resistance genes (3R). The 3R Victoria potatoes are completely resistant to late blight.

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What is the value of using crop wild relatives in potato breeding?

It may surprise you to learn that wild potatoes grow like weeds in South America. While farmers in the United States battle weeds like pigweed and lamb’s quarters, farmers in the Andes Mountains have to keep weedy potatoes in check. There are over 100 wild potato species and breeders have just scratched the surface for new variety development. As climate change and a growing population put additional strains on potato growers, we will continue to explore the possibilities offered by this rich genetic resource.

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Staying on top of late blight: Canadian potato industry put spore trapping technology to work

On June 18 a crop consultant in Alberta told Eugenia Banks, Ontario potato specialist, that spore traps in the province had caught late blight spores. Ontario is going through a wave of hot and dry weather, and out west in Alberta, it’s the opposite with cooler, wet weather. In response to the discovery, of late blight in 2014, the Potato Growers of Alberta (PGA) supported a spore-trapping project. In Ontario, Eugenia Banks lead a two-year Ontario Potato Board project evaluating one type of spore trapping technology in order to help growers improve late blight management with good results.

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Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of the journalism literati, and usually associated with such apocalyptic terms as “ecosystem collapse” and “food crisis”. The culprit: modern agriculture, which is often linked to the Brave Not-So-New World of GMOs and gene-edited crops and the chemicals purportedly used to support it.

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Fight against powdery scab: South African researchers identified two ideal plant species for potato crop rotation

A study by researchers in the Potato Pathology Programme at the University of Pretoria identified oat and soybean as “ideal to be included as trap crops in rotations with potatoes”. This is a first study in southern Africa on alternative weed and cultivated hosts of the cercozoan Spongospora subterraneaf. sp. subterranea, which causes the potato disease powdery scab.

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Maleic Hydrazide as a potato sprout suppressant: A review from the UK

Maleic Hydrazide (MH) is a potato sprout suppressant that was first identified as a plant growth regulator in the 1940’s. In an article published by AHDB Potatoes this week, it is said that the reduction in permitted treatments rate for CIPC have driven an increase in MH use in recent years. Interim data from AHDB at Sutton Bridge has shown that in the absence of CIPC, MH can offer good sprout control and boost efficacy of alternative treatments when used in combination with them.

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Latest Canadian Crop Report: Good potential, but hard work needed to clean up old crop later than normal

The Crop Transition Conference has been held for the past 12 years in Minneapolis. This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, it was held virtually, says Kevin MacIsaac, General Manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC). In conclusion it is said that “The crop has good potential, but we are going to need to work hard, to clean up the old crop at a later than normal date, as the new crop transitions in on schedule.”

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Investigative Report: Potato production in Egypt – ‘Export demands increase interest in bio-pesticides’

GROPRO Corp. a US based producer and supplier of biological crop protection products, has recently completed a investigative agricultural tour of Egypt. According to the group of specialists from GROPRO, “We believe that bio crop protection products will play an important role in the near future to assist in developing the Egyptian potato industry – not only to improve the efficiency of crop production in general, but for farmers to attain better quality products and higher yields.”

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Alberta’s potato stockpile 37% higher than average

Potato growers in Alberta province in Canada have a boatload of potatoes in storage. As of June 1, stocks of processing potatoes in Alberta were 5.37 million hundredweight, which is 37.2 percent higher than the three year average for stockpiles in early June, reports Robert Arnason for The Western Producer. Processing acres in the province could be 10,000 fewer than in 2019.

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Tasmanian researchers developed ‘potato tuber greening risk rating model’ for retail stores

Light conditions in retail stores may contribute to potato greening, says a team of researchers at the University of Tasmania in their recently published study on this subject. In this study, the research team says they aimed to develop a “potato tuber greening risk rating model” for retail stores based on light quality and intensity parameters. Greening risk, which varied between stores, was found to be related to light intensity level, and partially explained potato stock loss in stores.

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IFA: Retail and early markets remain strong; drought still a concern across Europe

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) reports in its weekly potato update that demand at retail level remains strong, given that the majority of people are still working from home. Recently released figures show potato area similar to 2020. If yields take a hit from the drought this will leave production significantly below 2019. The UK and Europe have gotten some rainfall in the past week. However, like in Ireland there is considerable variation on amounts in different areas.

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Viewpoint: 70% of consumers say ‘natural’ food is healthier, but there’s no science behind the marketing hype

When you hear the word “natural,” what thoughts or images come to mind? If you think of flowers, puppies, fresh baked bread, or other wholesome ideas, you’re not alone, writes Jack Bobo on the Gernetic Literacy Project. Products that were once only found in “health food stores” or specialty stores like Sprouts Farmers Market, Whole Foods, or Natural Grocers are now available in traditional grocery and convenience stores.

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Hyperspectral imaging for sustainable, more productive potato crops

Hyperspectral imaging, a growing area in remote sensing, holds the promise of providing a solution for crop monitoring over large areas, and scientists at the James Hutton Institute are working with partners in industry and academia to investigate the potential of the technology to maximise the sustainability and productivity of key food crops. The InnovateUK-funded project “In-field Optical Detection of Potato Disease” primarily explored the utility of aerial imaging (drone captured multispectral and high-res RGB) to detect and differentiate between a selection of economically important potato diseases.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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