WUR participates in major international research on climate-resilient crops

The Ancient Environmental Genomics Initiative for Sustainability (AEGIS) seeks to use historical DNA to devise more resilient crops. Wageningen University & Research, along with other institutions, will utilize a 78 million euro grant to analyze ancient DNA to understand past ecosystems and crop responses to climate change. This knowledge aims to reintroduce valuable genetic traits into modern crops, enhancing their resistance to diseases and climate stress.

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Global heatwave: Earth experiences unprecedented year of record-breaking temperatures

Over the past year, the planet experienced record-breaking temperatures every month, with the global average soaring to 1.63 C above pre-industrial levels. The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, urged immediate action to curb greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change. Scientists are alarmed at the rapid warming. The call to action stresses the urgency for world leaders and corporations to address the crisis.

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Scottish potato planting season hampered by weather challenges and seed shortages

In Scotland, inconsistent weather has made this year’s potato planting season challenging, with sporadic efforts due to frequent rain and soaked soil. Around 75% of potatoes are planted in Moray and Aberdeenshire, 90% in Angus and Perthshire, and the Borders region is nearly complete. Limited seed supplies and disease concerns complicate the season further, while low sunlight and disease risks affect growth and yields.

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Weather challenges persist: European and Irish potato farmers struggle with planting delays as demand stays high

The latest Irish Farmers Association report underscores the difficulties Irish potato farmers face due to unpredictable weather, causing planting delays and a potentially late harvest. Despite these challenges, retail demand and home consumption remain strong, pressuring old season stocks and driving up physical prices. This trend is seen across Europe, with weather impacts noted in the Netherlands and the UK.

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Spuds in crisis: Climate change hits European and global potato industry

Climate change is severely impacting potato crops globally, causing price surges and jeopardizing farmers’ livelihoods. Heavy rainfall, floods, and droughts have led to reduced yields, lower quality, and increased disease. From Canada’s significant losses to Europe’s crop declines and similar struggles in Africa and South America, the global potato industry is under stress. This crisis highlights the urgent need for action against climate change to protect food security and the agricultural sector.

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Ireland and Europe face challenges in potato planting due to unpredictable weather

This week, potato farmers in Ireland and Europe face significant challenges due to erratic weather, affecting planting and crop progress as reported by the IFA. In Ireland, brief dry spells were insufficient for sustaining continuous planting, leading to potential supply issues in summer. Similar issues are observed across Europe, with France and neighboring countries experiencing severe planting delays. The IFA stresses the importance of strategic planning to mitigate weather impacts on agriculture.

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Pioneering study highlights need for climate-resilient potato cultivars amidst global warming

A study by researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, published in Frontiers in Plant Science, reveals significant challenges potato cultivation faces due to climate change. The research team underscores the importance of developing stress-tolerant potato varieties to maintain global food security amid rising temperatures, drought, and increased pest incidences. The study includes advancements in understanding potato plants’ molecular responses to environmental stress, critical for breeding resilient cultivars.

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UK seed potato body combats climate-driven challenges

The UK’s Seed Potato Organisation (SPO) considers extreme weather a significant threat to Scotland’s seed potato sector. Rising temperatures have increased aphid-induced diseases, endangering Scotland’s otherwise virus-free crops. Representing a third of Scotland’s seed potato acreage, SPO funds initiatives to combat these issues, including aphid-confusing tactics and supporting disease monitoring projects like those by the James Hutton Institute.

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Unlocking the potential of the humble spud: Scientists explore ways to climate-proof potatoes

Potatoes, the world’s fourth most important crop, are under threat from climate change, with rising temperatures, erratic rainfall, and extreme weather challenging production. This article by Lukie Pieterse reviews strategies for enhancing potato resilience, such as breeding climate-tolerant varieties and adopting biotechnology and sustainable practices. Collaborative efforts are vital to secure this staple food’s future, ensuring global food security amidst a changing climate.

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British growers warned of dual threat to potato crops: Wireworm risk rises amid wet soils

Growers are warned of increased wireworm damage risks in potato crops due to wet soils, potentially exacerbated by reduced autumn cultivations and cover crops. Syngenta’s Andy Cunningham notes severe weather has limited Integrated Pest Management (IPM) options. Trials show that Nemathorin treatment at planting can significantly reduce wireworm damage and limit Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) multiplication, offering substantial yield increases and financial gains over untreated or alternative treatments.

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Potato planting in peril: Irish farmers face uncertain future amidst wet weather woes

Irish potato farmers face a crisis as incessant rain delays planting, jeopardizing this year’s crop and market supply. Seasoned growers like Meath’s Ivan Curran and Louth’s Maria Flynn confront the worst conditions in decades, with the crucial weeks ahead being vital for deciding the availability of supermarket and specialty potatoes, such as those used by Tayto crisps.

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Breeding the super spud: How scientists are striving to create climate-resilient potatoes

The ADAPT project explores breeding resilient potatoes through genetics. Researchers have discovered how the SP6A protein triggers potato formation and how high temperatures disrupt this process. By manipulating genes related to SP6A, they’ve produced potatoes that grow earlier and in greater numbers, even in adverse conditions. Findings on the GERMIN3 gene also contribute to improved potato yield by managing sugar supply during growth. Such advances aim at securing food production despite climate challenges.

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WMO: Climate change indicators reached record, ‘off the charts’ levels in 2023

The World Meteorological Organization’s 2023 report reveals unprecedented levels of greenhouse gases, heat, ocean acidification, and sea-level rise, leading to extreme weather events and significant economic damage. It confirmed 2023 as the warmest year on record, exacerbating global food insecurity. UN Secretary-General highlights accelerating climate changes as ‘chart-busting’ trends.

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Compensation sought for flood-impacted potato growers in Ireland

The Irish Farmers’ Association is requesting immediate compensation for potato growers hit by floods, citing that 650 acres of crops remain unharvested due to 2023’s adverse weather. The IFA highlights urgent compensation need, as farmers seek to plant spring crops and face substantial losses from the unavoidable damage caused by January frosts.

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Rain delays and rising prices: The dual challenge facing potato markets in Ireland and Europe

The Irish potato market remains stagnant as wet weather hampers planting and harvesting, causing tight supplies and rising prices, the latest weekly potato market report from the Irish Farmers Association (IFA). This reflects a wider European trend of dwindling potato stocks and increasing costs. Persistent rains particularly hinder early crop planting in coastal regions of Ireland. The industry awaits improved conditions for delayed planting to stabilize the market.

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Record-breaking heat: February 2024 declared hottest on record

February 2024 set a chilling record as the warmest February in history. Continuing a nine-month streak, temperatures were 1.77°C above the pre-industrial average and 0.81°C higher than recent decades’ norm. Record ocean warmth exacerbates the crisis, with the potential for more extreme weather, rising sea levels, and disrupted ecosystems. Scientists stress the severe, costly consequences of denying and delaying action on human-driven climate change.

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Andean farmers use age-old technique amid climate change to protect potato and quinoa crops

In the Andean plateaus of Puno, Peru and Bolivia, ancient Waru Waru agricultural techniques, dating back 2,000 years, are being revived to combat climate change. These rectangular, raised planting beds, surrounded by water to create microclimates, protect crops like potatoes and quinoa from drought and frost. In 2023, during a severe drought, they enabled farmers to sustain food production and maintain their rural livelihoods.

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Resilient Irish potato market navigates harsh weather, shortfall reported in European potato supplies

The Irish Farmers Association reports a rise in potato sales due to their economic value in the cost-of-living crisis. Despite tough harvesting, consumption has increased, with the UK and Northern Europe facing supply challenges. Potential losses in Europe could lead to 800,000 tonnes of potatoes being lost, prompting interest in imports to cover deficits in spring. This situation offers both obstacles and prospects for the potato industry.

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The evolving landscape of the global potato industry: Trends, challenges and innovations in 2023

The potato industry in 2023 has been a landscape of innovation and adaptation as stakeholders across the globe respond to a wide array of trends and pressures. From the encroaching effects of climate change to technological advancements sweeping through the fields and supply chains, the industry has been shaped by the interplay of environmental, technological, and market dynamics. Potato News Today explores some of these factors in a comprehensive article based on news reports published in 2023.

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Resilience in the fields: Dutch farmers struggle through extreme weather challenges

Dutch farmers struggle with climate-change-induced extreme weather, leading to crop losses, especially potatoes, carrots, and sugar beets. Wageningen University research focuses on mitigating the effects of severe weather on soil and crop health. Strategies under exploration include utilizing lighter farming machinery and breeding resilient crop varieties. Challenges extend to spring-flowering bulbs, with efforts underway to manage water levels effectively. The university emphasizes the urgency of developing adaptive agricultural practices and crop varieties resistant to extreme conditions.

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The fragile fate of Aussie spuds: Battling climate and another threat of shortage

Australia faces another potential potato shortage, just a year after the last crisis. Potato grower Terry Buckley highlights the industry’s susceptibility to extreme weather, with optimal growing temperatures between 20-30°C. Climatologists predict more heatwaves, intensifying the challenge. The industry, constrained by strict cultivation contracts and high production costs, considers exports as a buffer against domestic volatility, highlighting the precarious nature of agricultural sustainability amidst climate change.

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New head of breeding program wants to save Maine potatoes from climate change

Researchers at the University of Maine are using DNA science to develop climate-resilient potatoes for the region. Mario Andrade, the new head of the potato breeding program, plans to focus on heat tolerance and disease resistance. Collaborating with his predecessor, Gregory Porter, Andrade aims to leverage DNA technology for potato breeding, addressing Maine’s concerns about drought and excess moisture. This innovative approach marks a significant shift in agricultural practices.

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Persistent wet weather taking its toll on UK farmers

Farmers and landowners in the UK are warned of potential flooding as Storm Henk brings heavy rain. The persistently wet weather has caused further damage to crops and farmland, following previous storms. The Environment Agency has issued 129 flood warnings and 294 flood alerts for England, while Natural Resources Wales and Scotland have also issued warnings and alerts.

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Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse

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