Latest potato news from around the World

Soil health, rotation and planting best practices on the agenda of webinar

This is the third AHDB hosted webinar in what the industry body in the UK saying to be a very popular series of potato themed webinars based around soil health, rotation, machinery practices and new approaches to improving and maintain the health of soil which is used for growing potatoes. AHDB says its primary aim is to encourage uptake of soil health and encourage new supportive practices for potato growers.

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The glyphosate debacle: Viewpoint on ‘a misleading study, gullible reporters, and a cancer scare’

“As biotech giant Bayer prepares to spend $10 billion settling thousands of lawsuits alleging its weedkiller Roundup (and its active ingredient glyphosate) causes cancer, we’re forced to address a crucial question: how does an herbicide deemed safe by regulators and scientists the world over become the whipping boy of tort lawyers and environmental groups with an ideological ax to grind?” So says Geoffrey Kabat in a recent article published by the Genetic Literacy Project (GLP).

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Following the trend: Germany’s Europlant launches lower carb potato varieties

Many consumers of potatoes are of the opinion that the vegetable contains too many carbohydrates. In a press release issued today, German based potato variety company Europlant says it is heading the low carb nutrition trend, and is now offering two potato varieties which contain fewer carbohydrates: the mild, mainly firm-cooking Coronada, which is branded as Linella, and the tasty, firm-cooking Montana.

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Potato Pest Management Seminar: Fusarium dry rot, Rhizoctonia canker and black scurf

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Miller Research in Idaho will not be holding its annual Potato Pest Management Meeting in person. Instead, they will be having four 1-hour virtual seminars, discussing four different topics related to potato disease management. In the first of these seminars – tomorrow, February 16, 2021 – Dr. Jeff Miller will discuss the susceptibility of different cultivars to Fusarium dry rot and review best management practices for avoiding dry rot in seed and at harvest.

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Canadian potato growers advised on wireworm challenges and management strategies

In a webinar hosted by Potatoes in Canada magazine and presented by BASF, Dr. Robert Vernon, entomologist and IPM consultant, and Anne McRae, BASF Technical Service Specialist, Horticulture, discussed wireworm challenges and management strategies across Canada. Wireworm lifecycles, geographic considerations, and new registrations to manage wireworm populations were reviewed.

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PCN control: Nemathorin now the only granular option for British potato growers

Potato growers in the UK now have just one remaining granular nematicide for the control of PCN – the crop’s most damaging soil pest. The regulatory decision not to re-authorise oxamyl leaves Nemathorin as the only remaining granular option. Growers now switching from oxamyl to Nemathorin need to be aware of how to get the best results from this season’s applications, advised Syngenta Technical Manager, Michael Tait.

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Zebrachip disease and potato psyllid: EFSA survey card helps preparing surveillance plans

Scientists recently updated the pest survey card that was prepared in the context of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) mandate on plant pest surveillance at the request of the European Commission. The authors say in the introduction to the document that its purpose is to guide the Member States in preparing data and information required for surveys of the causal agent of the zebra chip disease ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ (Lso) and its associated insect vector the psyllid Bactericera cockerelli.

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AVR’s Ceres 440 planter ‘opens next chapter in advanced precision farming technology’

AVR recently introduced its latest and most advanced planter, the AVR Ceres 440. The absolute highlight of the Ceres 440 is undoubtedly its AVR Connect system, which unites all planting information and remote parameters in one synchronized digital platform for planting and harvesting, since the system is also featured in the AVR Puma 4.0 harvester. With the Ceres 440, AVR invites potato growers to “get ready for the next chapter in AVR’s precision farming story”.

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German cabinet approves legislation to ban glyphosate from 2024

Farmers in Germany will have to gradually reduce their use of glyphosate and stop using it completely from 2024 in order to preserve clean habitats for insects, under draft legislation passed by the country’s cabinet on Wednesday. Farmers have criticised the planned law, saying it puts the livelihoods of family-run farms at risk and that bans would be less effective in fostering biodiversity than cooperation between farmers and conservationists.

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EU Commission clears acquisition of Belchim by Japanese based Mitsui

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed acquisition of Belgium based Belchim by Mitsui, headquartered in Japan. The Commission’s investigation found that the proposed transaction, as originally notified, would have reduced competition in the following crop protection markets: Plant growth regulators (PGR) used to prevent or control sprouting in stored potatoes. Paraffinic oils used to prevent or limit the spread of viruses in seed potatoes and flower bulbs.

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Founder of Lay’s potato chips to be featured in upcoming TV special

The founder of an internationally known potato chip brand has a Greenville connection and will be featured in an upcoming special on the History Channel. Herman W. Lay, founder of Lay’s potato chips, who was later head of the Frito-Lay Company, built his own business from snack distributor deliveryman to company owner.

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Researchers invited to submit papers on disease identification and quantification

For this Special Issue of Digital Plant Pathology for Precision Agriculture, scientists are encouraged to submit their most recent research on disease identification and quantification from leaf- to field scale, sensing plant-pathogen interactions, sensor based plant protection, and on highly sophisticated sensor data analysis methods. The editors of the journal explicitly invite manuscripts in four areas of research.

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Soil debate: ‘Only 60 years of harvests left’ claim is a myth, says study

Claims that the world may have only 60 harvests remaining because of improper soil management are “overblown” and “absurd”, according to a new survey by the University of Oxford. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported in 2014 that global soils were degrading so rapidly that there may be only 60 harvests remaining. Hannah Ritchie, senior researcher at Oxford University said were a “myth” and there was no “scientific basis” for them.

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EU seed potato ban may trigger tit-for-tat response from Britain

The UK government should consider a tit-for-tat response if Brussels continues to refuse access to British seed potatoes, according to farm leaders. Scottish, English and Welsh seed potato growers and traders are still unable to export to the EU as part of the Brexit fallout, causing millions of pounds in losses. The EU denied third country status for GB seed potatoes over concerns they would not remain “dynamically aligned” with the bloc’s standards on this product.

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Latest innovations to spark agricultural revolution

“Innovations are popping up left, right, and centre. I am amazed by the sheer amount of new technology that emerges these days – let me mention a few examples which were highlighted in Future Farming in 2020,” writes Geert Hekkert, Chief editor of Future Farming, in a recent article published in the magazine. Hekkert mentions that a new molecule which increases the temperature of plants has been found, and this molecular heating effect allows crops to grow in winter as well, for example.

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McCain Foods adds Vice President

To address the growing need to strengthen relationships with governments and external audiences around the world, McCain Foods is proudly announcing the appointment of Charlie Angelakos as its Vice President, Global Government and External Affairs. In this new role, Charlie will lead McCain’s global external communication and public affairs strategy across 160 countries.

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New research identifies best gene to confer durable resistance to late blight in potato

An international team of researchers has struck an important blow in the ongoing evolutionary arms race with the notorious potato disease late blight (Phytophthora infestans). This disease, which caused the Irish potato famine in the 1840s, continues to reduce potato yields today and can lead to devastating losses. A new gene and it’s relatives were found in the Solanum americanum plant and seem to provide potatoes resistance against all races of P. infestans . A publication on the new Rpi-amr1-gene appears today in the journal Nature Plants.

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Grimme’s Ventor 4150 harvester now comes with haulm topper and other new features

Grimme announces that its four-row self-propelled potato harvester, the VENTOR 4150, will be equipped with a number of new practical features for the 2021 harvesting season. The VENTOR 4150 can now be optionally equipped with the HT 400 haulm topper, which is especially suitable for extremely high quantities of long, tough potato haulms. In addition to a significant increase in throughput, haulm topping prior to the harvesting process reduces the risk of losses.

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Produce and potatoes in the UK benefit from smaller Christmas celebrations

Covid-19 delivered a Christmas like no other. National and local lockdowns created a lot of uncertainty during the run up to the festive period, with many Christmas plans forced to change last minute due to government restrictions. The industry body says all that uncertainty did not stop people from celebrating. 2020 was the biggest ever Christmas in the UK for food retail, with food and drink sales excluding alcohol growing by £912m to £8.1bn. However, this was not enough to outweigh the losses we saw in the out of home market, which declined by £1.4bn.

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New Zealand: Potato exports plummet amid claims of European dumping

New Zealand’s potato trade is struggling as exports to some key markets plummeted in December, new figures show. According to a report by RNZ’s Riley Kennedy, a dispute broke out last year over claims European producers were dumping frozen fries into markets around the world. Potatoes New Zealand chief executive Chris Claridge believed that was a major factor in the drop in export.

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TOMRA Food launches Packhouse Academy, the fresh produce industry’s most comprehensive online learning resource

TOMRA Food has launched the most comprehensive online learning resource for packhouse professionals in the fresh produce industry. Packhouse Academy, powered by TOMRA Academy, offers a wide range of on-demand videos, live interactive webinars, and user-driven training modules. Packhouse Academy will empower individuals to increase their industry- critical knowledge and skills, in turn helping packhouses improve their pack-out, productivity, and quality.

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Potato specialist advises on best management practices for pink rot and Pythium leak

Dr. Jeff Miller, President and CEO of Miller Research in Idaho, presented on this topic during the recent Idaho Potato Conference, which was hosted online January 19 – 21. Jeff showed two photos to compare what the infected potatoes would look like if a grower was to see them in the field, saying that the external part of the tuber looks very similar for both diseases. There are differences though, as he explained.

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Our digital world: New innovative feature from KisanHub – Paperless Load Passports

KisanHub recently launched an innovative, game-changing new feature – Paperless Load Passports. This feature was designed to transform how products move through the fresh produce supply chain, and further to allow people to manage this process all on their mobile devices. This saves time and minimises errors with the added bonus of traceability from the farm to the factory gate. Moving to a digital, integrated system can signi?cantly reduce the carbon footprint, the company says.

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Potato retail sales in the US at five-year record highs

Total potato sales at retail were at five-year record highs for both dollar and volume sales in 2020, according to a press release issued by Potatoes USA today. The industry body says dollar sales increased by 16% compared to 2019 and all categories, except deli-prepared sides, grew by double-digit dollar sales. Fresh potato sales increased by almost 21% in dollars and 15% in volume. All types increased in dollar and volume sales by at least 6%.

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A closer look: How to effectively manage phosphorus levels in the soil

“Bound. Fixed. Unavailable. Three words no grower wants to hear about one of the three most important nutrients in crop production. However, this adequately describes the nutrient known as phosphorus (P).” So writes CHS Agronomy agronomist Codee Lee in a recent article published by CropLife. He says that while total soil P concentration is very high, it’s estimated that crops will seldom get more than 15%-20% of the P applied in fertilizer.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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