Each time a bag of potato chips is opened in the United States, there is a one in four chance that it’s filled with Michigan-grown potatoes. Michigan is the largest producer of potatoes grown for the potato chip industry in the US, A concerted effort made by industry stakeholders, spearheaded by Michigan State University Extension and MSU AgBioResearch, and coordinated by the Michigan Potato Industry Commission, has built a partnership that is growing the industry.
Growers of Cornish new potatoes said their crops are now flourishing after a miserable start to the year. FG Pryor is currently harvesting in the fields around Penzance, lifting the fluffy-skinned Cornish new potatoes: initially destined only for Cornwall, but shortly to be available nationwide. Colwyn Farm has been run by the Pryor family since the late 1800’s. Philip Pryor says: “I want to hand the land over to the next generation in the same or better state than it was handed to me.”
“Improving potato varieties is our company’s core business,” says Robert Graveland, HZPC’s Research Director. “We noticed we have not yet used many genetic variants. There is still a lot of potential in this.” To use this potential, speed and control are crucial, says Robert. One way to speed up the process is to use gene-adaptation, for example, CRISPR-CAS. That can, for instance, create resistance or make a variety salt or heat tolerant. Some laws in Europe define gene-editing legally as GMO, though.
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.
Great news for HZPC’s seed potato growers in the European Union: HZPC Holding is starting its “Connecting Growers” programme this year, which will reporting in handing out share certificates, according to the company. HZPC says it wants to remain an organisation run for and by growers. To this end, it is investing in connections with its growers.
A new protocol for estimating the determinacy – how crops utilise fertilisers – of potato varieties will be released in the next few months and will be added to the AHDB’s Nutrient Management Guide (RB209). This should help breeders and those involved in variety development, save time and money when producing nitrogen recommendations for new varieties. From this, growers and agronomists will gain more accurate nitrogen/determinacy groupings for both new and existing cultivars, and thus fine-tune the N rates applied to crops.
Jeff Stark’s retirement plans would just have to wait. With only two and a half weeks until his retirement, Stark was busy completing all the necessary paperwork for the release of the Galena Russet, a new potato variety. Stark had been the director of the University of Idaho’s Potato Variety Development Program since 2006 and he estimated that the Galena Russet potato variety was the 22nd or 23rd variety released during that time.
Grampian Growers is a farmer owned cooperative based on the East coast of Scotland on the outskirts of Montrose, Angus. The cooperative is one of the UK’s leading growers, suppliers and distributors of seed potatoes. Grampian recently released a short video about its Gemson baby potato variety. Grampian says on its website that Gemson has gone from strength to strength in the expanding baby potato sector since its commercial release in 2007. Gemson is renowned for producing exceptional small, white, round and bright tubers, perfect for the packing industry.
Scientists of the James Hutton Institute, in collaboration with the University of St Andrews, are supporting a research project aimed at delivering food security and health for East Africa. The Quikgro initiative, which aims to develop potato varieties suited to the agronomic and environmental conditions of the region, is a key component of the project and will hopefully result in economic and social benefits for smallholder farmers.
How much would you realistically pay for a pound of potatoes? A few dollars? Well, you won’t believe how much these expensive spuds once fetched at auction. These artisanal vegetables are grown in sandy soil fertilized by seaweed on an island off the Atlantic coast of France. They’re so delicate they must be harvested by hand, and they’re only available 10 days a year. These are the Bonnottes de Noirmoutier, and they are one of a kind. Watch a video.
Across the channel in the Netherlands a remarkable thing is happening. The whole supply chain has worked together through the ‘Potato Covenant’ to shift the organic potato sector to 100% use of robust, blight-resistant varieties. So, why not in the UK, asks Phil Sumption in this article published on his blog Agricology.
A purple potato producer who saw her niche business flatline overnight has started a contactless drive-through spud shack. Maria Flynn of Ballymakenny Farm, outside Drogheda, Co Louth was supplying many top restaurants and bars across the country with heritage potatoes when Covid-19 virtually closed the hospitality industry overnight.
Branston, potato supplier based in the UK, is asking shoppers whether they want to see its new Violet Queen variety become a mainstay of the potato aisles as part of its launch of the eye-catching purple variety, Fruitnet reports. Violet Queen is being launched into selected Tesco stores for a limited time from this month, having been developed for its unusual colour and rich texture.
The International Potato Center (CIP) recently joined 34 other organizations across the globe in depositing more than 60,000 seeds in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a biodiversity bunker in a mountainside of an Arctic island in Norway. That mass deposit of seeds of an array of crops helped raise the number of samples stored in Svalbard to more than one million, but for the CIP genebank, it was just the latest such delivery in an ongoing effort to back up its extensive collections of potato, sweetpotato, Andean roots and tubers, and the wild relatives of those crops.
From hunger to profitable harvest: How GMO, CRISPR-edited plants can help curb $220 billion in annual crop losses
Plant diseases arguably pose the biggest threat to agriculture, exacting a dramatic economic toll and endangering the livelihoods of farmers all over the world, writes Steven Cerier in this article published by Genetic Literacy Project (GLP). Scientists in the Netherlands and Ireland have successfully carried out field trials of a disease-resistant genetically engineered potato. The new variety was created through a process of cisgenesis.
Neil Budko is an associate professor in the Numerical Analysis Group at TU Delft in the Netherlands. In this article he and his colleagues’ involvement in the “Flight to Vitality” seed potato project is explained in detail. With the Flight to Vitality project, HZPC and Averis Seeds want to jointly develop an objective test with which the vitality of batches of seed potatoes can be measured and predicted.
At the annual meeting of the Canadian Private Potato Breeders Network CPPBN, held on March 4 and 5, 2020 in Guelph Ontario, the group elected Andre Gagnon as President for a 2 year term. “Andre is an active private potato breeder for the past 14 years and has released several varieties, notably the variety “Alliston” which has proven to be outstanding in Ontario,” says Dr Peter VanderZaag, secretary of CPPBN.
Dr Helen Tai is Research Scientist – Plant Genetics and Genomics (specializing in potatoes) at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Fredericton Research and Development Centre in the country’s New Brunswick province. AAFC recently published the interview below with Dr Tai. Even though I didn’t start out studying plants I feel very lucky to be back where I grew up, studying potatoes. I guess it’s true what they say about the apple not falling far from the tree!
Michigan State University received $700,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to invest in its potato breeding and genetics program. The award is part of a $2.25 million four-part grant to support potato breeding in strategic areas across the country, which includes partnering institutions University of Minnesota, North Dakota State University and the University of Wisconsin.
Stakeholders working within the potato sector in Uganda are confident about the wide adoption of a new bioengineered late blight resistant potato. Dubbed the “3R Victoria” potato, the yet to be released variety could help over 300,000 smallholder farmers in Uganda achieve higher yields at a lower cost with less exposure to chemicals. At an expert consultative meeting held in[Read More…]