Studies/Reports

PGA Executive Director: ‘Vulnerability of the Canadian supply chain tested to its limits’

In an Executive Director report, Terence Hochstein of the Potato Growers of Alberta (PGA) says: “As I write this article for May 1st, Canada is now 107 days from the first reported case of COVID-19. Never in the history of mankind has the entire world come to a screeching halt; the world economy is completely upside down. There are millions of opinions out there as to the seriousness of this pandemic and the forever lasting effects of what our lives will look like in the future.”

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Potato storage specialist comments on the future of potato storage research in the UK

The following letter was sent to Potato News Today by potato storage specialist in the UK, Ray Andrews, and we published it as such. AHDB’s announcement that it is consulting on the future of the Sutton Bridge Crop Research Station, and on potato storage research more broadly, should worry every potato grower in this country. AHDB’s announcement that it is consulting on the future of the Sutton Bridge Crop Research Station, and on potato storage research more broadly, should worry every potato grower in this country.

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Coronavirus pandemic leads to Idaho potato market distress

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a once strong potato market to make an abrupt about-face, leading some Idaho growers to dump surplus spuds from storage cellars or to feed them to cattle. Just a few weeks ago, Idaho potato farmers were enjoying some of their best fresh prices in recent memory and anticipated supplies would run short in the coming summer. The combination of lower spud yields and widespread frost damage during the 2019 harvest had contributed to a smaller statewide crop than normal, the Post Register reported Saturday.

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Potatoes USA: ‘Potatoes show largest sales increase of all vegetables sold at retail in March’

Retail purchases of all potato products were 41 percent higher in March 2020 compared to the same time frame last year, according to figures released by industry marketing body, Potatoes USA. “Consumers give potatoes high marks for being a satisfying food that everyone enjoys and for being a great value,” said Blair Richardson, CEO of Potatoes USA. Fresh potatoes have experienced a 42 percent volume increase since the beginning of March and a 67 percent year-over-year dollar sales increase as of the end of the first week of April.

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As Covid-19 threatens global food security, fresh potatoes are back on tables

COVID-19 is driving demand for fresh potatoes in supermarkets and grocery stores across the globe as people stock up on inexpensive food. Fresh potato has become a favorite during the lockdown, along with rice, wheat flour, bread and pasta, the International Potato Center (CIP) says in a recently published report. The world should be prepared to guarantee availability of food at affordable prices over the next 12?18 months, or even longer, to effectively overcome the effects of the pandemic. Potato has a key role to play in ensuring global food security.

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National Potato Council tallies shutdown damages

The head of the National Potato Council in the US says it’s yet to be determined how much money the industry needs to be made whole in the wake of the coronavirus shutdowns, Capital Press reports. However, “what we have identified is that there is between $750 million and $1.5 billion of products that are clogged up in the potato pipeline right now,” council CEO Kam Quarles said.

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Canada: Prince Edward Island’s 2020 potato acreage dependent on contracts, but storability is a concern

Just before the COVID-19 pandemic brought physical meetings to a standstill, the board of directors of United Potato Growers of Canada held a face-to-face meeting in Ottawa to review potato stocks and discuss the market situation across the country. General Manager Kevin MacIsaac noted stocks nationally were down 1.9 per cent or one million hundredweight over the three-year average as of March 1. He said that Prince Edward Island holdings were up 3.9 per cent.

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Retail potato trade remains strong in Ireland, but processing sector at a standstill

In the latest Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Potato Market Report, it is said that the retail trade remains strong albeit slightly erratic following the Easter break. The processing sector remains at a standstill although more restaurants are opening on a ‘take-away’ basis following the announcement of further restrictions. Meanwhile plantings continue at pace across the country.

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Are potato plants sick or just thirsty?

A potato study utilizes irrigation system feedback to distinguish between “thirst” and disease. The three-year project is supported by the Texas Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant program. “If you were just assuming it was a healthy plant, then you would put water on it. But if it is really a diseased plant, then putting water on it is not going to help at all. Matter of fact, it may make the disease worse,” according to Charlie Rush, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Research plant pathologist.

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Potato and tomato blights in Europe: Multi-actor research is crucial for sustainable control

Didier Andrivon from INRA directs our thoughts to potato and tomato blights in Europe and argues that multi-actor research is crucial for sustainable control. Controlling blight epidemics have long relied almost exclusively on repeated applications of synthetic fungicides. It is not uncommon for potato crops to receive 15 or 20 sprays a season to keep blights at bay. However, this strategy while efficient, is not sustainable.

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How will Covid-19 lockdown impact our eating habits?

In this very insightful article by Steven Evans, Senior Consumer Insight Manager at AHDB in the UK, the author analyzes how Covid-19 has changed our eating habits, using estimates from Kantar Worldpanel that look at the potential rise per week of meals consumed during lockdown. These predictions relate to the current hard lockdown scenario faced by consumers, and depending on how stringently lockdown measures are enforced, we can expect to see a range of changes for a prolonged period.

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The Female Farmer Project: The untold story of America’s female farmers

In the fields and barns across America are the stories of farmers — the talented, tenacious stewards of the land who have grown our food for generations. But while agriculture is the foundation of our civilization and the backbone of our nation, the story has only been half-told. According to the 2012 Agriculture Census, more than 280,000 of all primary farm operators are women, and a total of one million women work in the agriculture industry. Their stories have gone untold — until now.

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Potatoes USA: 2019 a banner year for potatoes, but in 2020 exports decline with severe losses in foodservice sales

Utilization of U.S. grown potatoes increased by 3.3% in volume in 2019 compared to 2018, an increase of 1,183 million pounds. The full force of the global pandemic and its impact on food sales became very apparent in March, Potatoes USA says. Beginning with the restrictions in China and then elsewhere in Asia, U.S. exports slowed considerably. Domestically, the calls for social distancing and the restrictions on sporting events, entertainment, bars, and restaurants has led to a drastic decline in foodservice sales.

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Coronavirus crashes the European processing industry

The situation in mainland Europe closely echoes current trends in the UK. Fresh retail sales have been reported to have increased significantly and potatoes are moving from countries such as France and Germany to help meet demand in eastern Europe. Meanwhile the widespread closure of restaurants and other food service outlets has meant that demand for processed potato products has[Read More…]

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Potato Weekly: Standstill in Britain’s chipping market; growers trying to make planting decisions

In this week’s Potato Weekly report, issued yesterday by AHDB Potatoes, analyst Adian Wright writes that trade in the chipping market is at almost a complete standstill as most chip shops remain closed across the UK. Meanwhile, another week of good weather nationwide has meant that for many, planting of potatoes has continued at pace, but the uncertainty of how long certain markets may be unavailable is hanging over some growers who are trying to make planting decisions.

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Potato processing facilities shutting down in Western Europe; calls multiply for reduced planted area

In the European potato sector, the direct consequences of the Covid-19 crisis are stark and multiple, according to a report by FIWAP (Filiere wallonne de la pomme de terre), is the potato industry association of the potato growers in Wallonia, Belgium. several potato processing units are shutting down (totally or partially) in Western Europe, particularly those that supply fast-food restaurants and french fry outlets. Throughout the European northwest, calls for a reduction in the 2020 areas multiply.

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Generations of insect attacks drive plants to ‘talk’ publicly

When a beetle larva bites into the leaf of a goldenrod plant …. [t]he bite damages the goldenrod …. causing it to launch molecular defenses against the insect and to emit a concoction of chemicals that change the physiology of goldenrod plants nearby. It’s as if the plants are communicating about the invader. Biologists first argued that trees and plants could “talk” to one another in the 1980s, but data supporting the idea were dismissed by many researchers as statistically sketchy. Over the past few decades, however, the scientific community has revised its opinion.

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Screening for higher-yielding crop traits revolutionised

To drive progress toward higher-yielding crops, a team from the University of Illinois is revolutionising the ability to screen plants for key traits across an entire field, writes Hugo Claver, Web editor for Future Farming, in a recent article. The team analysed data collected with specialised hyperspectral cameras that capture part of the light spectrum (much of which is invisible to the human eye) that is reflected off the surface of plants. Using hyperspectral analysis, scientists can tease out meaningful information from these bands of reflected light to estimate traits related to photosynthesis.

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Will warm weather really kill off Covid-19?

Some people hope that outbreaks of the new coronavirus will wane as temperatures rise, but pandemics often don’t behave in the same way as seasonal outbreaks. BBC Future looks at what we know.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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