Latest news stories from around the World

XAG demonstrates potential of fully autonomous drones for potato farmers

Flying into the Andes mountains of Ecuador, XAG Agricultural Drones are recently introduced to a series of on-farm spray trials for high-altitude specialty crops. The demonstrations on potato fields have presented the high potential of fully autonomous drones in reducing labour cost and agricultural pesticide exposure. The agile agricultural drone would be a powerful tool to promote sustainable farming in Ecuador’s 3.2 million hectares of cultivable soil.

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MSU researchers breeding beetle-resistant potato varieties

Potato farmers face many challenges. One tiny, yet devastating, pest is the Colorado potato beetle. It can cause immense damage to potato crops. It’s also notorious for becoming resistant to chemical insecticides. In a new study, published in Crop Science, researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) describe genetic tools to develop potato varieties with improved natural resistance to the potato bug.

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‘Nuru’: An AI-powered phone app for African farmers expanded to include potato diseases

Because potato growers need to identify and manage diseases in their fields, the AI-powered mobile app PlantVillage Nuru has been expanded to include them also. More than two million farmers in East Africa who depend on potatoes will be able to point their smartphones at a plant and receive an instant disease diagnosis through the app. It has been expanded to include potato late blight (Phytophthora infestans) and early blight (Alternaria solani).

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NDSU seeking postdoctoral research associate to investigate agronomic, environmental factors impacting potatoes

The Department of Plant Sciences at North Dakota State University (NDSU) is seeking a postdoctoral research associate to investigate agronomic and environmental factors impacting potato yield and postharvest quality. This position will take a lead in investigating management of new and/or promising new potato varieties during all aspects of potato production.

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Isle of Ely Produce hosts open day for chip shop industry

More than 100 friers and trade suppliers travelled to Ely for the chip shop industry’s first event since the start of the pandemic. The eighth annual Isle of Ely Produce & Chippy Chat open day was put on by John, Oliver and Claire Boutwood and hosted by Chippy Chat. This year’s featured farmer, once again, was Pete Legge of Legge Farms.

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Pepsico’s largest greenfield snack plant in India to double its snack business by 2022

Pepsico last week commissioned the country’s largest greenfield food plant in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. The plant is built at a cost of Rs 814 crore (USD110m), with the aim to fulfill the company’s goal of doubling its snack business by 2022. The plant will cater for the demand of the company’s Lays potato chips business, connecting with over 5,000 local potato farmers.

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Potato demand improves in Ireland, European markets regain confidence

The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) reports that retail and consumer demand have improved in the country this week as colder weather has returned and families are back into routines, following the holiday period. The hospitability sector continues to prosper despite the return of schools. European markets continue to regain confidence as economies are almost fully re-opened at this point.

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Expert advice on operating equipment for harvest and loading into storage

The bulk of harvest is just ahead of us and here are a few reminders on operating equipment for handling the new crop. Regardless of how experienced at operating equipment, a few friendly reminders can always be helpful to minimize bruise, say potato specialists Nora Olsen and Mike Thornton in this article published by Potato Grower magazine.

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Leading Scottish grower chooses next generation Tong Caretaker

When East Lothian-based J. Haig Hamilton & Sons, decided to upgrade their potato grading operations to ensure the most advanced handling of the company’s valuable 550-acre crop, they chose long-standing manufacturing partner Tong Engineering’s flagship Caretaker mobile grader to increase capacity and capability. Based near the beautiful North Berwick coastline, Haig Hamilton farms a total of 3,500 acres of land, including a high-quality crop of potatoes.

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Frozen potato products: A-Insights reports on latest trends

Market and consumer data analytics company A-INSIGHTS has published its latest monthly MarketMonitor report on trends in the Frozen Potato Products industry, titled “June Insights“. Analysts at the company conclude that global trade volume is up 0.5%YTD compared to 2019. Aside from the U.S., France, and New Zealand, all major exporters saw volumes increase compared to 2019. With a monthly import volume of 107.9 thousand tonnes in June, U.S. imports are up 26.2% compared to 2019.

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Scientists found dried potato powder to be cheaper energy source in animal feed than maize

Scientists at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) in Pakistan have found that dried potato powder can successfully be used as a cheaper energy source in animal feed and can be added up to 30 percent in ruminant concentrates without any negative effect. Due to the high cost of yellow corn, dried potato concentrate had been identified as a low cost alternative and it can easily replace maize.

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PepsiCo UK investing £24 million in Lincoln factory

PepsiCo UK recently announced it is investing £24 million (about US$33 million) in their Lincoln snack factory to upgrade their facilities, meet the growing consumer demand, and secure the  building’s future. The investment will see existing machinery at their long-standing city center site replaced by new equipment – including a compact packaging machine – creating training opportunities for employees including their apprentices, some of whom will be upskilled in using the state-of-the-art equipment and technology.

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Call for abstract submission for WPC 2022 now open

The 11th World Potato Congress will be held in Dublin, Ireland from 30 May to 2 June, 2022. The call for abstract submission for WPC 2022 is now open and authors are encouraged to submit their abstract online for consideration. A very limited number of submissions will be selected for oral presentation and authors will be notified if their abstract has been accepted for an oral presentation on 20th January 2022.

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Plans in the making for new representative body for British potato industry

A group of leading potato industry stakeholders has drawn up tentative proposals for a new representative body, provisionally called GB Potatoes. They have distanced themselves from the Growers’ Better Levy Group (GBLG), and say their approach is to bring all sectors together via voluntary subscription and membership. A paper on provisional ideas is currently being circulated to stakeholders.

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General Manager of United Potato Growers of Canada to retire

Kevin MacIsaac, who has been General Manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada since October 1, 2011 announced he will be retiring this fall. MacIsaac’s diversified career over a 42 year timespan includes dedicated service as an extension agronomist, farmer, industry organizer and a knowledgeable and eloquent advocate. UPGC hopes to have a replacement for the position by this fall and is actively seeking applications for the GM position at this time.

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MountainKing: Quality of Colorado potato crop ‘extraordinary’

As MountainKing readies for its fall harvest, early tests from its fields in Colorado’s San Luis Valley offer encouraging signs for several of the brand’s gourmet varieties including its yellow-flesh varietals. “The 2021 crop outlook is very bright,” says Andreas Trettin, director of marketing for MountainKing Potatoes. “The quality is extraordinary,” he says.

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Kent potato grower latest to take delivery of Haith mobile grading system

Monkton Court Farms in the UK has become the latest potato grower to receive Haith’s next-generation mobile grading system. Philip Smith, who grows Desiree and King Edward potatoes across 60 hectares in East Kent, took delivery of the state-of-the-art grader this month. “The Haith box fillers have never let me down, and I was really impressed with the way the company handled my order and has supported me ever since,” says Philip.

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BASF receives registration for Veltyma fungicide with new active ingredient Revysol

BASF Canada Agricultural Solutions has received registration from Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) for Veltyma Fungicide. Veltyma contains the unique active ingredient Revysol that provides broader, stronger, and longer control against various diseases. Veltyma is registered for use on multiple crops including potatoes, corn, wheat and soybeans.

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Australian researchers study whether ‘plant medicines’ could help treat cancer, obesity

“Plant cures” are the key to world-first research by a team of scientists at the University of Queensland (UQ), led by Professor David Craik. “We’re engineering plants into super-efficient producers of next-generation medicines,” Professor Craik said. “So we want to put molecules into, say, potatoes, so that effectively you can have your french fries and not worry about the consequences.”

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UK agri-tech company secures funding to research early detection of potato diseases and defects

Research scientist Dr Barbara dos Santos Correia, with support of B-hive Innovations, has been successful in her application for a Future Leaders Fellowship and will receive nearly £675,000 to support her TuberSense project – a four-year research programme that aims to detect diseases and defects in potato crops, using volatile biomarkers and innovative gas sensors to reduce food waste across the supply chain.

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Double L buyout completed, new management team installed in Idaho

Double L, a prominent manufacturer of farm equipment in the Intermountain West, announced late last week that it has formally concluded its ownership and relationship with the company’s prior management team and Board of Directors. SRM Holding has completed the buyout. The Board of Directors has appointed Grant R. Flaharty as CEO, and he has already installed a new management team in Idaho.

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Scottish potato trials plough on despite AHDB Potatoes’ demise

The team behind Scotland’s seed potato monitor farm near St Cyrus is undeterred by the lights going out at AHDB Potatoes. The four-year SPot Farm project may have been blighted by the imminent demise of the principal funder and the difficulty of industry engagement due to the pandemic, but the partners involved are upbeat and determined to plough on with field-scale trials and research for the original four-year term.

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Heat and smoke impact Idaho potato sizing

Sizing looks to be an issue in new crop potatoes from Idaho this season. Ryan Wahlen of Pleasant Valley Potato in Aberdeen, ID says it’s been in new crop now for just under three weeks. “We started about a week later than normal,” he told Astrid Van Den Broek of FreshPlaza. “The heat we experienced this summer just delayed things. We were hoping to get a little bit more size out of the potatoes so we waited a week. But even with that, the size and the yields weren’t there.”

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Potato and frozen chip brand Koffmann’s receiving good support from top chefs

The UK hospitality sector has been fully open for a few months now. Although not quite back to full capacity, people are enjoying being able to eat out again.“We have seen a massive demand for our brand both in fresh potatoes and frozen chips,” explains Simon Martin from Koffmann’s. “We have put a huge amount of work into this brand and promoting it. We have started supplying the Gordon Ramsey chain of restaurants and have had good support from him and other top chefs through social media.”

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor & Publisher

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