Many potato fields across Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) are not in the condition they are usually at this time of year due to the hot and dry conditions for much of July and August, reports John Robertson for CBC News. He reports that the Canadian Drought Monitor had much of central P.E.I. in extreme drought condition as of Aug. 31. While there has been more rain in September, in the first half of the month it is only about half of normal rainfall.
Wageningen UR in the Netherlands is now offering a PhD research opportunity – in principle a 4-year PhD position – for the study of potato sustainability. This project is said to be about understanding the effects of extreme weather events on potato development and on the yield and quality of the tubers. These effects can be viewed in relation to soil quality management and its implications for crop climate resistance and nutrient-use efficiency.
The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says a combination of heavy rainfall and poor management of rivers by local river agencies, has led to unnecessary field flooding and potato crop destruction in areas of Northern Ireland. UFU deputy president William Irvine said: “A large amount of rain has fallen across the country in recent days and while we are unable to control the weather, the lack of river management has been the catalyst causing field flooding and widespread damage of crops in the process.
The ADAPT project aims at identifying new breeding targets and matching potato varieties to specific challenging environmental growth conditions of the future, according to a press release issued by the University of Vienna. The ADAPT consortium has successfully launched the project “Accelerated Development of multiple-stress tolerAnt PoTato”, which aims at developing new strategies to make potatoes fit for the challenging growth conditions of the future. It will take place over the next four years with a total budget of 5 million Euro from the EU Horizon 2020 program.
Potato blight has raised its ugly head in parts of the UK late in the season, following a spate of turbulent weather, Corteva Agriscience’s field technical manager for potatoes, Craig Chisholm, reportedly received a flurry of calls from growers and advisors on how to protect crops late in the season. Catchy weather may well extend the intervals between spraying blight fungicides, so we are advising growers to use a product that will protect the canopy for 10 days,” he advised.
Potato farmers are worried about their crops as the northern part of the state experiences one of the driest summers on record. In Aroostook County, which is experiencing a severe drought, there has been no heavy rain since before Memorial Day, potentially reducing the yield, said Don Flannery, executive director of the Maine Potato Board. The dry weather in northern Maine also stretches into New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, two potato-growing Canadian provinces.
Maritime farmers are starting to call this summer’s lack of rain “disastrous”. Famous for its potatoes, Prince Edward Island produces over a million kilograms of spuds every year, but this year is different. Over the last three months, some areas of P.E.I. have only received 15 per cent of its usual rainfall. Estimates suggest the harvest will be down 25 per cent — at a minimum. “Put that in perspective,” said Greg Donald, the general manager of the P.E.I. Potato Board. “For all the potato farmers in P.E.I., that would be more than a $50 million dollar loss.” But there’s not much they can do to save their season.
Late processing varieties are reportedly lower than the multi-year average yields in Belgium, but processed products are said to be of excellent quality. This became clear during trial digs of the Fontane and Challenger varieties. According to a report by Nieuwe Oogst journalist Han Reindsen, samples were taken on 10 and 11 August to evaluate the yield and quality of Fontane and Challenger. The total yield is said to be lower, but fry quality is good.
Years of mismanagement, corruption and increasing population led to the loss of at least 75% of farmland in Second Village in Egypt and the surrounding areas, according to Abdel-Fattah el-Aweidi, head of Gazaer Qouta Agriculture Association, overseeing the area. Now, it is feared that a dam Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile, the Nile’s main tributary, could add to the severe water shortages already hitting farmers severely if no deal is struck to ensure a continued flow of water.
Harvest of Ontario’s fresh market potatoes continues, but not without some heat-related issues, according to Eugenia Banks, potato specialist with the Ontario Potato Board. Banks relays that one Simcoe grower says the incidence of second growth and misshaped tubers is high. This observation is also echoed by other fresh-market growers in Ontario. The heat wave earlier this summer disrupted the physiology of potato plants, resulting in knobs, sprouts and off-shaped tubers.
The humble spud, staple of the British dinner table, has weathered storm, flood and lockdown, but farmers are on tenterhooks ahead of the crucial growing season for the key crop as the UK heatwave is followed by thunderstorms and deluges. Farmers are desperate to avoid a repeat of last year, when good growing weather over the summer was followed by heavy rains in some areas from late September that left the ground too sodden to harvest for months, spelling disaster for many potato growers.
Farmers on Prince Edward Island are struggling in what they say is a very dry growing season, according to a report by the CBC. The Island has had a lot of hot, dry days and not much rain — in some cases, just 20 per cent of what’s normal. CBC meteorologist Jay Scotland says spring and summer have been very dry, especially in western P.E.I. The potato crop is struggling in some parts of the Island, as rainfall throughout the summer has been spotty.
Identifying hotspots and increased use of drip-feed irrigation equipment will be key to increased grower efficiency in the UK, minimising the toll on domestic water supply, and stopping the potential introduction of abstraction reforms, an expert has claimed. According to an article published by UK based trade magazine Potato Review, more than 50% of potatoes produced in the UK are irrigated, and in recent years the country has experienced reduced water availability and increased demand as a result of the hotter, drier summers, which are set to stay for the future.
“Overall, Eastern Canada has been dryer than normal at this time of year.” So says Dwayne Coffin of Vanco Farms in Mount Albion, PEI, who is carefully watching how the 2020 crop of Prince Edward Island potatoes is developing. Coffin describes the growing season as a Catch-22. “Most growers were pleased to get their crop in on a timely manner. But it’s been extremely dry for our region,” he says. As of right now, a harvest date for the crop is still in the air.
The North-Western European Potato Growers (NEPG) estimates that the area for consumption potatoes in North-Western Europe increased with 0,5% compared with last year towards 621.148 ha. Under current market conditions, this is considered as too large an acreage, however, the COVID-19 situation arrived at a time when growers already ordered their seed potatoes and rented potato land, and for many it was too late for an area reduction. According to the NEPG, there are many more questions than answers during the current growing season in most potato producing countries around the world.
Second growth is a physiological potato problem induced by prolonged air temperatures above 280C and water stress, according to Dr Eugenia Banks, potato specialist working in Ontario, Canada. These 2 factors interact to limit the tuber growth rate, thus causing second growth. Inadequate soil moisture alone does not result in the initiation of second growth.
‘Fight Against Blight’ resumes in Britain: Now accepting blight samples, reaching out to volunteer scouts
British potato growers are able to submit fresh blight samples for analysis again as the James Hutton Institute (JHI) re-opens its labs. AHDB reports that the news will be welcome to potato growers following a number of blight warnings around the UK in the last few days. JHI was previously unable to accept samples due to government restrictions. The service offers growers a chance to contribute to ongoing work genotyping strains of blight. It relies on ‘blight scouts’ submitting samples from potato crops.
United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC) has released its latest crop update. Kevin MacIsaac, General Manager, reports that the Canadian potato crop is in the “growing stage”. There is a recurring theme from coast to coast: It is dry – but the crop is not suffering yet because it is in the early stages of development, but does need rain soon. UPGC provides a snapshot of the crop status and market across Canada
Dr Eugenia Banks, potato specialist working in Ontario, Canada, yesterday took a picture of one of several spore trap devices in operation on potato farms in that region. Earlier this week Dr Banks reported in her regular email newsletter that most of the fields in central Ontario that were planted in early May are filling the rows, and she said tuber size is good so far. Dr Banks mentioned that more Colorado potato beetles (CPBs) than usual are observed by potato scouts in Ontario. She asks: “if insecticide resistance is ruled out, what could be the reason for seeing more CPBs this season?”
It’s been great weather for going to the beach, and not bad yet for potato farmers, but they are going to need the weather to turn soon, reports the CBC’s Kevin Yarr. The Island has seen two heat waves in the last week, and the dry spell goes back to the beginning of April. A dry spring is not necessarily a bad thing, said Donald. It’s good for planting if the fields aren’t muddy, because it’s easy to get farm equipment on to them.
Sencrop has announced that it has been chosen as a Trimble Select Partner for agriculture. Under the Trimble Select Partner Program, Sencrop’s connected ag-weather stations will be available to customers through the Trimble and Vantage™ distribution networks in the European Union (EU) and in the United Kingdom (UK) as part of Trimble’s marketplace dedicated to precision agriculture. Sencrop is the only fully connected ag-weather ecosystem in Europe.
On June 18 a crop consultant in Alberta told Eugenia Banks, Ontario potato specialist, that spore traps in the province had caught late blight spores. Ontario is going through a wave of hot and dry weather, and out west in Alberta, it’s the opposite with cooler, wet weather. In response to the discovery, of late blight in 2014, the Potato Growers of Alberta (PGA) supported a spore-trapping project. In Ontario, Eugenia Banks lead a two-year Ontario Potato Board project evaluating one type of spore trapping technology in order to help growers improve late blight management with good results.