Studies/Reports

Total Canadian potato storage holdings 12.5% above 3 year average; some chipping potatoes may need to be imported

Kevin MacIsaac, General manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada, reported earlier today that the current Canadian potato storage holdings figures were released by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada on June 1. According to Kevin, “good demand for table potatoes has lowered fresh supplies 15% below the 3-yr. average. Processing stocks are up 14.4%. Seed growers are also in a difficult spot with seed left.”

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Idaho potato farmers stuck with mountains of spuds after COVID-19 decimated demand

While Idaho will continue to be known for its famous potatoes, Gem State farmers are experiencing a major gut-punch after the coronavirus pandemic mashed the demand for potatoes, especially the ones meant for french fries. “With an excess of taters that may go to waste, farmers are scrambling to figure out what to do with the 2020 crop of spuds. After the COVID-19 pandemic forced restaurants across the country to close down there is an overwhelming number of potatoes that could go to waste, according to the Idaho Potato Commission.

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Pale cyst nematode: The USDA takes more comments on potato pest regulations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has re-opened a public comment period on changes to regulations of pale cyst nematode-infested areas, according to a report by Chris Koger of The Packer over the past weekend. Pale cyst nematodes (PCN) affect potato crops. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service took initial comments twice in 2019, and is accepting comments until July 6 “on the science supporting the protocols, including the sources of the methods informing their content,” according to a USDA news release.

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Could the global loss of food service pressure the UK’s potato processing market?

The release of the end-March stocks estimate did enable the UK domestic market to encapsulate the partial impact that the coronavirus is having on the potato industry. However, it does not allow us to paint the whole picture as we finish this marketing year and head into next season. Anthony Speight, Analyst at AHDB, wrote the following report that we gladly re-publish here.

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Belgapom Chief: ‘A new lockdown could be devastating for the industry!’

In an exclusive interview with Dan Orehov, Edtor of Potato Business, Secretary General of Belgapom, Romain Cools, talked about the current situation of potato consumption and trade in Belgium, on the background of the pandemic. Orehov and Cools also discussed the future of the Belgian potato, from farm to fork and the impact that foodservice industry closure has had so far on the overall potato business.

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US potato market shows clear pandemic effect

It was common for a fruit or vegetable to be having a good winter in terms of volume, pricing and demand, and then in mid-March, when lockdowns began, the item would see a sudden demand surge then crash. Greg Johnson, Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services reports. Johnson writes that no produce item shows this pandemic effect as clearly as potatoes, whose average F.O.B. price has been about half of what it was in early March, as demand has been significantly damaged by restaurant, school and institution closures.

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On-farm trials: Can brackish water be used for drip irrigating a potato crop?

New trials run by Innovative Farmers Field lab in the UK and funded by AHDB will research the possibility of using brackish water for potato irrigation, in particular drip irrigation. Grower members of Nene Potato Ltd planned a trial on use of slightly saline water with those able to offer technical support. The two aspects being investigated are effect of salinity and benefit of application by drip when using brackish water.

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Entrapment: US potato processing industry ambushed by pandemic

According to a report published earlier this week by the Washington Ag Network, the National Potato Council and state grower organizations wrote Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue last week to talk about potatoes that have nowhere to go for processing. According to the Council, more than 1.5 billion pounds of fresh potatoes for processing and potato products are trapped in the supply chain with no likely customers.

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Canada: Alberta’s potato farmers facing mental, financial stress from production cuts

As Alberta’s potato industry in Canada reels from the devastation of COVID-19, one industry spokesperson says he is worried the mental health and wellness of farmers could be at stake. Terence Hochstein, executive director for the Potato Growers of Alberta (PGA), said recent blows to potato farms have stoked his concerns for farm families. Hochstein said the industry is sitting on some 100,000 tons of potatoes right now that need to be processed by September.

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Europatat members and the fight against coronavirus

Secretariat of Europatat: Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, European potato traders have been working around the clock not only to keep the potato supply chain running but also to help combat Covid-19. In this article you can take a look at those Europatat’s members actions that have been carried out all around Europe in the past weeks. We would like to extend a particularly warm thank you to all of you. You are our #foodheroes!

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Plant drug factories: GMOs and gene editing are poised to transform medicine. Here’s how.

Plant biotechnology is poised to drastically improve how we consume medication. Using the modern tools of genetic engineering, researchers are developing plant-based drugs that are cheaper, easier to take and even more effective than their existing counterparts. Tautvydas Shuipys reports for the Genetic Literacy Project. A Canada-based company has announced that using this same technology, they have produced a candidate vaccine for COVID-19 in twenty days.

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Report: Current and future trends in the Ukrainian potato market

“The 2019/20 potato season in the Ukraine turned out to be the most unprecedented within the whole history of our monitoring,” says the market information company Fruit-Inform in a recent report. “We expected an increase of potato imports into the Ukraine of up to 21,000 tons in our autumn forecast. However, as of March, the imports totaled 300,000 tons!

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AHDB releases potato supply and demand estimates for Britain

Since lockdown measures were imposed in Britain in March of this year, uncertainty over the forward demand profile of potato markets has grown and grown, says Senior Analyst at AHDB, Alice Bailey. AHDB has pieced together its opinion on current and future supply and demand profiles to begin a wider discussion on the forward profile of potato markets. “We will constantly review and update as new information becomes available and circumstances change,” says Alice Bailey, author of the report.

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A robust blight strategy more essential than ever as new blight strains continue to evolve

Control strategies for late blight are constantly developing as the pathogen causing the disease evolves and the available blight chemistry changes, either due to regulation or efficacy shifts due to fungicide resistance, according to independent agronomy company Farmacy Plc in the UK. Overcoming issues such as these is a key part of the Hutchinsons’ blight trials, first set up in 1997. The trial is managed specifically to test products individually under higher blight pressure than might otherwise be found in the field.

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Report: Heavy potato imports by Ukraine; strong Russian exports to neighbouring countries

In a recent report released by Russian based Fruit-Inform, a produce market information company, commercial potato growers in the Ukraine did not report significant losses occurred during the 2019 growing season. However, small-scale garden producers suffered severely reduced yields on average. These smallholder growers is an important part of the potato production infrastructure in the Ukraine. Fruit-Inform further reports that Russian potato production has significantly grown during the autumn of 2019.

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‘The potato eaters’: Which nation loves spuds the most?

This interesting graph, depicting potato consumption in several countries around the world, was first published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) on its website. The organization says its 600 full-time journalists, 750 freelancers, and 20 local bureaus provide accurate news and information in 27 languages and 23 countries, making it one of the most comprehensive news operations in the world.?

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CIP and HZPC collaborate to develop new potato varieties suitable for Southeast Asia

This project builds on ongoing work by the International Potato Center (CIP) developing early-maturing potato varieties that are tolerant to high temperatures and resistant to major virus diseases, thus suitable for growing in tropical climates.In close collaboration with the Netherlands-based global potato seed company HZPC, this project is developing early-maturing varieties with good characteristics for cooking and processing that would be suitable for the local environmental conditions. Five advanced clone candidate varieties will be cultivated and evaluated at high and low altitudes in Vietnam.

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CIP mapping potato diseases in Africa: Bacterial wilt present in 73% ware potato farms and 50% seed potato farms in Uganda

Bacterial wilt is widespread in Uganda, limiting yields and degrading seed quality. But little is known about the extent of the disease. CIP conducted a nationwide survey to chart the prevalence and spread of bacterial wilt in Uganda, as well as the type of pathogens present. Bacterial wilt was found to be present in 73% of ware potato farms and 50% of seed potato farms.

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The British chipping market state of play

Last week saw the release of our end-March stocks estimates. Fresh bags and chipping stocks that remain in grower ownership at the end of March were estimated at 157.3Kt. This shows a 49% drawdown from end of January, suggesting 151.6Kt moved from grower ownership in that time. By the end of March approximately 79% of fresh bag and chipping material had left grower ownership which is 2% lower than the 5-year average. However the question faced is; what will happen to the remaining 21% if the fish and chip trade remains subdued?

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Too much, too long: Canada’s Manitoba potato growers reach breaking point

Some potato growers in Manitoba have reached a breaking point and not just because of COVID-19. Manitoba’s potato industry has been suffering for more than 18 months. There was a difficult harvest in 2018, a much worse harvest in 2019, potatoes rotting in storage this winter and production cuts this spring. The personal stress has been building and a number of producers are questioning why they continue to grow potatoes.

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Trial shows best nematicide strategy for PCN in potatoes

A sequences approach using a liquid nematicide with a new mode of action along with an existing granular product is the best approach for tackling potato cyst nematode, according to trials carried out by specialist potato agronomy group Produce Solutions. The company has spent three years testing the nematicide in Shropshire, using it alone and in sequence with granular nematicides at different rates. The firm now has a clearer view on its place in potato cyst nematode strategies and the costs involved.

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America’s pandemic snack: Lay’s potato chips

Stuck at home with nowhere to go, many Americans can’t help but snack more, and many are grabbing a bag of Lay’s potato chips. Since mid-March — when the World Health Organization first declared COVID-19 a pandemic — the number of Americans likely to purchase Lay’s has increased by 35 percent. Right now, 18 percent of the American population say they’re likely to purchase a bag of Lay’s, the highest that figure has been in three years (that figure is even slightly higher at 19 percent among those who are in-market to buy snacks in the next 30 days).

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What lies beneath: WSU team studies three-way interaction between potatoes, powdery scab, and mop top virus

A team of Washington State University scientists are taking on a destructive complex of diseases affecting valuable potato crops. Over the last few years Washington’s potato industry has encountered a new threat: Potato mop top virus, a pathogen that lives in soil and attacks the tuber, darkening the flesh and making potatoes unsellable. Mop top is spread by a protist, a fungus-like microorganism, that causes a disease called powdery scab which blemishes valuable tubers as it infects neighboring plants.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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