Varieties

Solynta’s executive shift: Peter Poortinga steps up as CEO, ushering in a new era of potato breeding

Dutch hybrid potato breeder, Solynta, has appointed Peter Poortinga as its new CEO, succeeding co-founder Hein Kruyt, who will now serve as CFO. Poortinga, former CEO of Plukon Food Group, has a background in potato science from Wageningen University. He believes in Solynta’s innovative approach to potato breeding, emphasizing its potential for sustainability and global food security. With this change, Juergen Steinemann, with vast experience in the agriculture and food industry, will become Chairman of Solynta’s Supervisory Board.

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‘Shedding new light on a hot topic’: Researchers unravel tuberisation of potatoes

Researchers Julia E. Stockem (Solynta and Wageningen University and Research), Michiel E. de Vries (Solynta), and Paul C. Struik (Wageningen University and Research) conducted three greenhouse experiments to evaluate the effects of light intensity, temperature and the proportion of far-red light in the light spectrum on tuber production. According to the research team, their findings will help breeding for heat tolerant varieties and optimise growing conditions for tuber production in indoor farming systems.

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Crafting a super spud: Researchers set the stage for climate-resistant potatoes poised to enhance nutrition

Scientists have developed a “super pangenome” that encompasses the genetic diversity of multiple potato species to enhance its resilience and nutritional quality. The pangenome includes 296 potato varieties and 60 wild species, making it the most extensive genetic database for potatoes to date. The research team aims to improve potato germplasm for climate resilience and food security.

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Beyond traditional tubers: The rise, challenges, and promise of true potato seed (TPS)

True Potato Seed (TPS) is a unique method of potato cultivation originating from the Andean highlands of South America, where the region’s diverse microclimates fostered the potato’s evolution. Indigenous Andean communities first utilized TPS, valuing it for both consumption and cultivation. Modern agriculture recognizes TPS for its genetic diversity, aiding in breeding disease-resistant and nutritionally improved varieties. TPS offers advantages like disease resistance and cost-effective transport but faces challenges like labor intensity and genetic variability. Despite its fluctuating popularity, TPS remains crucial in developing nations, addressing infrastructure challenges and promoting socio-economic growth.

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Four new climate-resistant potato varieties bred and grown in Nigeria

Nigeria has introduced new potato varieties to bolster its local farming and reduce dependence on European seeds. These varieties, resistant to disease and suited to Nigeria’s climate, were launched by the Nigerian Potato Seed Safety Partnership with Germany’s GIZ support. Collaborating with local research institutes, four types—Unica, Juriya, Babban, and Kyau—will be distributed. This move addresses the country’s low potato yield and emphasizes the importance of local production for food security amidst global challenges.

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‘Between health and harvest’: Europe’s debate on glyphosate use

Glyphosate, a key herbicide globally, faces potential bans in Europe due to environmental and health concerns. Its prohibition could significantly impact European agriculture, especially high-value crops. The economic effects vary by country and farming system, with potential increased costs and yield losses. The decision to ban balances health risks against economic implications.

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A new era for potato breeding: Unraveling genetic complexity, opening the door to more efficient potato breeding

PhD candidate Corentin Clot of Wageningen University & Research has made significant discoveries related to potato sexual reproduction that could simplify the breeding of this important crop. Clot’s research focused on the challenge of combining desirable traits with resistance to diseases and pests in potato varieties. He discovered that the gene involved in self-compatibility is already present in tetraploid potato varieties, and developed a two-step strategy for breeding that avoids inbreeding depression. This new approach offers a ‘third way’ between conventional breeding and true seed hybrid breeding, and has the potential to improve potato resistance and yield.

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A new frontier in potato breeding: Unlocking the potential of wild potato species for late blight resistance

Researchers are exploring wild potato species for resistance to late blight, a significant disease in potato production. The study by the Institute for Breeding Research on Agricultural Crops and the University of Rostock identifies resistant species and their associated genes. The findings could guide future resistance breeding, offering a sustainable alternative to harmful fungicides.

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‘Unlocking the future of agriculture’: Interview with Solynta’s co-founder & CEO Hein Kruyt

Solynta, a Dutch startup, is revolutionizing agriculture with its development of hybrid true potato seeds. These non-GMO, pest-resilient seeds offer a sustainable alternative to traditional potato farming. Through its innovative technology, Solynta can combine beneficial traits in potatoes, including pest resistance and climate tolerance. The company’s future goals include increasing potato yields, reducing pesticide use, and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

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Potato pioneer: UMaine’s Gregory Porter to receive prestigious potato industry award

University of Maine professor Gregory Porter has been awarded the Maine Potato Industry Recognition Award by the Maine Potato Board. Porter, an agronomy professor, has developed five successful potato varieties, including the successful Caribou Russet, contributing significantly to Maine’s economy and potato industry. His work has earned him several awards, and his impact is expected to benefit future generations of Maine’s potato growers.

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A twist in the tale: Delhi High Court rejects PepsiCo India’s potato variety patent appeal

The Delhi High Court upheld a decision to revoke PepsiCo India’s intellectual property protection for a potato variety, FL 2027, used in its Lay’s chips. The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPVFRA) had earlier revoked the registration, citing PepsiCo’s incorrect application for the potato as a “new variety” despite it being commercialized in India in 2009. The court found that PepsiCo had failed the test of novelty required for a “new variety”.

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Unlocking resistance: Harnessing wild potato relatives to improve late blight protection

A study by researchers at the International Potato Center focused on improving potato resistance to late blight (LB) by incorporating LB resistance from wild potato species into cultivated potatoes. The research involved techniques like rescue pollination and sexual polyploidization to transfer beneficial traits from wild potatoes to cultivated ones. The study resulted in the development of promising sexual and tetraploid hybrids with desirable traits such as high dry matter and LB resistance. These hybrids offer potential for future potato breeding strategies but further research is needed to validate their resistance and address any undesirable traits.

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‘Well positioned for the future’: EUROPLANT launches new logo

EUROPLANT Pflanzenzucht GmbH presents itself with a new, modern brand image. A new logo, new colours and new fonts create a contemporary corporate identity. The new logo reflects the start of the internal re-organisation of the company. In future, breeding, agriculture and distribution will operate under one brand. “The new trademark makes it visibly clear, that we are an innovative, modern company,” says Jörg Renatus, EUROPLANT Managing Director.

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Relief to Kenyan potato farmers: New pest-resistant, high yielding variety introduced in the country

Kenya’s potato farmers are set to benefit from a new pest-resistant, high-yield potato variety. The Potato Consortium introduced the variety, which is in high demand globally, particularly by fast-food chains. The introduction will also usher in contractual farming, ensuring a ready market for farmers. This development is expected to increase yield, eliminate middlemen, and attract younger people to farming, thereby improving food security and farmers’ livelihoods.

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Increased nutritional value in genetically modified potato plant sparks USDA review

The US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) conducted a review of genetically modified soybean, tomato, and potato plants to assess potential risks. A modified plant, developed by Ohalo Genetics, produces higher levels of beta-carotene for enhanced nutritional value. APHIS determines whether these plants pose a greater plant pest risk compared to non-modified plants and issues a response accordingly.

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Farming communities in Peru recover 226 potato varieties using ancestral practices, sustainable farming methods

Peru’s ancestral practices and sustainable development training have revitalized 226 potato varieties in high Andean regions, boosting food security and resilience against climate change. This achievement, financed by the Global Environment Facility and implemented by UN’s FAO, blends new agricultural technology with traditional methods. The initiative also empowers women, with Kusikui spearheading a digital platform for product sales.

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Changing the game: How True Potato Seed technology is reshaping agriculture in Kashmir

Irshad Ahmad Dar, a farmer from Pulwama, South Kashmir, has successfully cultivated a potato crop using True Potato Seed (TPS) technology, guided by scientists from Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Sciences and Technology Kashmir. Suitable for high-altitude areas, TPS involves growing potatoes from seeds, not tubers. The process yields “mini tubers”, which can be replanted to produce regular potatoes. The scientists have developed several high-quality hybrid varieties using TPS, some recommended to the All India Coordinated Project on Potato and local farmers.

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Innovation in plant breeding: The promise of hybrid potatoes in enhancing sustainability, food security

A hybrid potato could help bolster global food security, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, according to a book presented at a mini-symposium in Wageningen. Funded by the NWO, the research project involved several institutes including Wageningen University & Research and Solynta. Hybrid seed can be produced faster, requires less material for planting, doesn’t carry diseases, and has longer storage potential. This could significantly impact potato yields in remote regions and respond swiftly to farmers’ needs.

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Peruvian native potatoes on a quest to conquer new markets

On National Potato Day in Peru, Minister Nelly Paredes reported that processed potato exports have expanded to international markets, including the US, Canada, and Germany. The variety of products made from Peruvian potatoes, such as chips and vodka, is due to small producers’ innovation. In 2022, potato by-product exports reached 6,530 tons, worth $8 million. In Peru, she said, the potato crop is produced by 711,313 families across 19 regions.

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Bridging science and practice: From diploid hybrid potato breeding to practical farming

Researchers from Solynta and Wageningen University and Research have published a review on the latest developments in diploid hybrid potato breeding. The study focuses on inbred line development, trait mapping, managing inbreeding depression, and trait introgression. It highlights techniques such as the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and CRISPR-based editing to accelerate trait introgression. The review underscores the importance of translating these scientific findings into practical breeding programs for farmers and end-users.

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UMaine develops new potato varieties to make state’s top crop more competitive, marketable

The University of Maine’s Agricultural Research and Development Farm annually tests 250 potato varieties, aiming to improve quality and yield. Led by professor Greg Porter, the team’s work, including the successful Caribou Russet, is funded by federal and public sector grants. The research is critical to meeting the increasing demand for Maine potatoes, a significant revenue source for the state. After 40 years contributing to potato development, Porter is due to retire at the end of the year.

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‘Seeds of success’: HZPC UK acquires leading Scottish minituber producer, TLC Potatoes

HZPC UK, a member of the Royal HZPC Group, has acquired TLC Potatoes, a leading Scottish minituber producer, to strengthen its market position and secure the future of HZPC’s minituber production. This acquisition will enhance production capabilities, allow for faster introduction of new varieties, and benefit potato growers across Scotland, England, and Wales. Both companies share a commitment to innovation, quality, and customer satisfaction in the seed potato industry.

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New East African Potato Breeding Network to accelerate development of better varieties, improve crop yield

The 1st East Africa Potato Network Breeders Meeting was held in Nairobi, Kenya, bringing together potato experts from the region to discuss challenges, opportunities, and breeding strategies to improve crop yield. The newly established East Africa Potato Breeding Network aims to facilitate collaboration, enhance understanding of genetic and environmental factors in potato breeding, and accelerate the development of improved potato varieties.

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Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


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