Potato consumption in Northern Ireland has boomed on the back of the home cooking experiences enjoyed by so many thousands of people in homes across the region over the last number of months. And the expectation is for this very welcome trend to gain even greater momentum, once new season crops for 2021 are available.
Latest potato news from around the World
Potatoes in the United States and Canada are a commodity. When selecting varieties, the colour of the skin tends to be the primary consideration. As new managing director of HZPC Americas Corp, Jeff Scramlin sees opportunities to increase market share by highlighting the distinguishing characteristics such as cooking types, flavors and textures. These efforts should help to de-commoditize potatoes, create demand and increase value through the chain in North America.
This past winter, two well known potato pathologists stated that the incidence of Dickeya dianthicola is declining in the U.S., writes Dr Eugenia Banks, potato specialist at the Ontario Potato Board, in a recent article. Dr. Banks is of the opinion that additional novel and potentially high virulent soft rot species probably remain to be discovered, and this high level of diversity will hinder the development of tolerant potato varieties. “This is not good news!,” Dr. Banks says.
A team of scientists led by Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (NTU Singapore) has developed a device that can deliver electrical signals to and from plants, opening the door to new technologies that make use of plants. The NTU team developed their plant ‘communication’ device by attaching a conformable electrode (a piece of conductive material) on the surface of a Venus flytrap plant using a soft and sticky adhesive known as hydrogel. The NTU team is looking to devise other applications using an improved version of their plant ‘communication’ device.
The boards of directors of the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and United Fresh Produce Association (United Fresh) have reached an agreement in principle to create a new global trade association combining their resources and expertise to enhance member services, increase advocacy before government and the public, help members grow their businesses, and drive consumption of fresh produce.
According to the latest potato market report issued by the Irish Farmers Association (IFA), there is a chance that outdoor dining may recommence in May according to the most recent plan to gradually re-open the country. Demand for top quality packing material remains strong. As the weather improves, growers are reminded to ‘grow for their markets’ and to remain cognisant of the current market situation.
AHDB Arable analyst, Thomma Shepherd, provides an analysis of what has driven potato markets over the last few weeks. She says the weekly average price survey, covering all sectors of the industry, shows potatoes have had a depressed few months, lagging behind previous seasons. The 2nd wave of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns has killed a lot of demand for potatoes. With the majority of hospitality closed along with schools there has been little optimism within the industry.
The Feed the Future – Biotechnology Potato Partnership (BPP) is a five-year, $5.9 million multi-institution cooperative agreement between MSU, USAID, Simplot Company and other global institutions to develop and bring to market improved potato products in farmer- and consumer-preferred varieties in Asian countries. BPP offers biotech potato products with broad-spectrum resistance to late blight. The BPP annual report for FY 2020 is now available.
Scotts Precision Manufacturing in the UK reports a significant surge in windrower kits and “retro fit” Evolution separator sales. With the potato industry having to adapt to a host of market changes and an increasingly changing weather pattern, potato growers have been looking seriously at their wet weather harvesting capacity.
Washington potato farmers can expect high pressure from psyllids, the insects that can carry zebra chip disease, researchers say. Potato psyllid populations fluctuate from year to year, said Rodney Cooper, temperate tree fruit and vegetable research leader for the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Wapato, Wash.
A pernicious agricultural pest owes some of its success to a gene pilfered from its plant host millions of years ago. The research finding is the first known example of a natural gene transfer from a plant to an insect. It also explains one reason why the sweet potato whitefly Bemisia tabaci is so adept at munching on crops: the gene that it swiped from plants long ago enables it to neutralize a toxin that some plants produce to defend against insects.
When Michael Moeller decided in 2019 that he wanted locally made potato chips for Milwaukee, he had no idea just how local they could be. In early March, Moeller made his first sales and deliveries to Milwaukee businesses, produced by the newly founded Milwaukee Chip Co. As for raw product, he found his match in fourth-generation grower Okray Family Farms in Plover, WI.
Following the withdrawal of diquat in Britain, Standen says many potato growers are still seeking an effective solution in haulm destruction of their crop. This has prompted its importing division to start offering Dutch manufacturer Vegniek’s DiscMaster series of precision haulm pullers. The DiscMaster has been developed with a focus on reducing crop damage and ensuring that rows are effectively closed following the pass.
The World Potato Congress is extremely pleased to present its next webinar on Tuesday, April 6, 2021/Wednesday, April 7, 2021 with Dr. Paul Horne, Entomologist and owner and Director of IPM Technologies Pty Ltd., Hurstbridge, Victoria, Australia. The presentation will outline the elements of IPM in any crop but particularly in potatoes. Examples of how pesticides can be chosen based on their IPM fit will be given, using Australian conditions as an example.
The names for 14 new pesticide active ingredients have been approved by the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) and added to BCPC’s Online Pesticide Manual. The ISO’s Technical Committee of Common Names for Pesticides assign shorter, more distinctive, active ingredient names than their original chemical name for newly approved pesticides.
Potatoes USA, the marketing and promotion board for the U.S. potato industry, elected new leadership during the Annual Meeting on March 11, 2021. The newly elected Chairman and Executive Committee will lead the Board through 2021-2022. As chairman, Raybould will prioritize restoring demand for potatoes back to pre-pandemic levels.
The final loss of approval of Vydate in the UK on 31 December brings an Innovative Farmers field lab into sharp focus as many potato farmers search for alternatives to control potato cyst nematode (PCN). Farmers in Shropshire and Lancashire further investigate the efficacy of growing trap crops to control the nematode.
The Northwest farmers who grow potatoes for your French fries are themselves plenty fried. The three massive agribusiness companies that make much of the world’s frozen fries, tots and hashbrowns are going to pay Northwest potato farmers less this year. “It really is a punch in the gut,” says Adam Weber, a 27-year-old, third-generation grower in Quincy in Washington’s Columbia Basin. Farmers like Weber say they’ve already taken a hit from the pandemic and higher fertilizer costs.
Canadian researchers pursue anti-virulence strategy in fight against common scab, antibiotic resistant bacteria
In the ongoing war against antibiotic resistant bacteria, a change in battle tactics may prove effective for controlling common scab of potatoes and potentially other toxins that affect humans and animals, according to Canadian Light Source Inc. The approach that Dr. Rod Merrill at the University of Guelph and his research group are pursuing is an anti-virulence strategy – finding or designing small molecules that inhibit the tools bacteria use to colonize the host and create infection.
Frank Muir, who has been president and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission since July 2003, announced that he would be retiring in six months. When Muir took the helm at the IPC 18 years ago, farm gate revenues for Idaho potatoes were at a 15-year low. Nationally, the famous and once highly regarded Idaho russet had lost much of its sheen. Muir was brought aboard, he said, “to turn this thing around,” and turn it around he did.
Lamb Weston has announced an expansion of french fry processing capacity in China. “The french fry category is poised for growth globally, and China continues to be a critical market for us,” said Tom Werner, President and CEO of Lamb Weston. “This investment of in-country production for the China market is a clear example of our commitment to our strategic customers and supporting their growth plans well into the future.”
Two brothers in Western Washington’s Skagit Valley developed an IoT platform that uses sensors and devices placed on “big gun” sprinkler reels and irrigation pumps that can automatically shut off the water when reels stops unexpectedly. Cellular signals share the information to a dashboard that lets a farmer remotely check the sprinklers to solve the problem. They are joining the surge in research and startups in the field of precision agriculture and ag tech.
It’s a £160million showcase for gardening science and a treasure trove of secrets. Now the Royal Horticultural Society’s new state-of-the-art Hilltop centre is preparing to welcome visitors for the first time. Prized items include a potato plant brought back by Charles Darwin from South America – preserved as a pressing. Darwin collected it on an island off Chile in 1835.
Central Plains Group Ukraine (founded by a group of foreign investors from the UK and Finland) intends to build a potato processing plant in the Lviv region in the Ukraine, according to a report by the press service of the Lviv Regional State Administration. The construction cost is about US$7 million. The group aims to create about 50 jobs at the enterprise, and plans to process 40-50 thousand tons of potatoes a year.
For many Aussies, it’s hard to believe there was a moment in time when Smith’s chips didn’t exist. With 90 years of rich Australian history, there’s no better time to celebrate those that have made Smith’s the nation’s favourite chip brand for almost a century. Danny Celoni, Chief Executive Officer of parent company PepsiCo ANZ, said this year marks a significant milestone for the brand. As a category leader, Smith’s continues to innovate by extending into new formats and segments as consumers continue to seek new flavours and experiences.