Latest potato news from around the World

UFU: Northern Ireland’s potato sector at risk from rivers

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.

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McCain Australia and New Zealand resumes normal production after Covid induced backlog

With Kiwis eating fewer hot chips during lockdown, one of New Zealand’s largest potato chip manufacturers was forced to cut production significantly for six weeks at its Timaru factory until the backlog was cleared. McCain Foods agriculture director Australia and New Zealand John Jackson said the company’s factory at Washdyke, Timaru, had reduced its usual 24/7 production to five day a week shifts when stock built up due to reduced orders. Fifteen weeks after takeaway food businesses and restaurants were allowed to re-open, the factory has returned to normal production.

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British potato prices weak as Covid-19 fears remain

Many potatoes are in pretty good shape given the growing season they have had, but growers will be less impressed with the prices they are getting as Covid-19 continues to dominate the market, reports Cedric Porter of World Potato Markets for Farmers Guardian. Prices remain depressed. Early season values are as low as €20/t (£18/t) because of a large carry-over of stocks from last season.

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Potato LEAF awards Texas A&M’s Jeewan Pandey for research to speed up the development of new varieties

The Potato Leadership, Education and Advancement Foundation (Potato LEAF) is pleased to announce Jeewan Pandey, a third-year graduate student Texas A&M University’s Department of Horticultural Sciences, as the recipient of its 2020-21 Academic Scholarship. Pandey’s research involves the application of DNA-based markers in potato breeding to speed up the development of new varieties that would require fewer pesticide applications.

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Colorado’s Skyline Potato starts 2020 on optimistic note

Just days before his Center, CO, operation kicked off its 2020 San Luis Valley potato season, Skyline Potato Co. General Manager Les Alderete said he was optimistic about the overall market situation and the coming year. “We’re hoping for a decent year,” Alderete said in mid-August, adding that although the summer had been hot and dry, the growing season was good and harvest weather forecasts were also favorable. He did say that water in the San Luis Valley is “tight” after a short snowpack.

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EU ‘ADAPT’ Project: Searching for stress-resistant potatoes

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.

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UK: Slight increase in demand as schools restart; ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme ends

The week has been described as relatively quiet across the board, with many supplies across all sectors utilised mainly on contract, writes AHDB Analyst Anthony Speight in today’s issue of the Potato Weekly report. He says slight increase in demand for certain sectors as schools start again after many months of being shut. However, stakeholders within the industry say this is not necessarily being felt as we head into a conventionally quiet spell.

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Isle of Ely Produce created ‘chip ambassador scheme’ to help promote the Great British chip

Isle of Ely Produce have created a chip ambassador scheme, consisting of shop owners and fryers who will promote best practice for potato buying, storing and frying, reports Daniel Mason for Elystandard. The Ely company aims to continue the work it has done through their open days and the ‘field to frier’ award it sponsors at the national fish and chip awards. As part of the scheme, chip ambassadors will be used to sample new varieties that come into the market brought by potato distributor Agrico and Isle of Ely, such as Babylon and Lugano.

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LOCKWOOD/Double L hire Larry Benzel for Columbia Basin Sales

LOCKWOOD Manufacturing has expanded its sales and service reach for customers in the Columbia Basin of Washington and Oregon. Collaborating with Double L, Larry Benzel will represent both companies as the area’s regional salesman. “LOCKWOOD and Double L enjoy a great working relationship and we are proud to work with Double L to better serve the potato growers of the Columbia Basin,” said Dan Birrenkott, president of Crary Industries and LOCKWOOD Manufacturing.

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Europatat welcomes new Secretary General

The Board of Europatat, the European Potato Trade Association, is pleased to announce the appointment of Berta Redondo Benito as the new Secretary General of the association, with effect as of 1st of September 2020. She will succeed Raquel Izquierdo de Santiago who has successfully led the association for the last 6 years. The Board and the whole membership of Europatat warmly thank Raquel for her excellent work during these years.

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Largest ever export order leaves Scotts for Canada

A UK manufacturer of vegetable harvesting and handling machinery has exported its largest-ever order. Scotts Precision Manufacturing sent 14 Evolution Separators to Allan Potato Equipment Manufacturing Ltd., Canada’s largest designer and manufacturer of potato harvesting equipment. Before this shipment, the most Evolutions Scotts had supplied in one order was seven.

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Opinion: What’s behind the drop in acres in potatoes in the US?

USDA released its report on the number of potato acres planted in 2020. Potato growers planted only 921,000 acres in 2020, more than 47,000 acres fewer than in 2019 and 105,000 acres fewer than in 2018, according to an article published by Carol Miller in Growing Produce recently. It’s the lowest number of acres recorded by USDA in at least 100 years, Carol writes. Both processing and fresh markets are down. To better understand what’s behind the drop, American Vegetable Grower asked Washington State University’s potato specialist, Carrie Wohleb, what’s behind the trend.

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Restrain launches unique online potato storage training course

Restrain offers solutions for the maintenance of low level ethylene gas in potato and onion storages, as well as tomato ripening on the vine. According to John Hutchison, Restrain Manager in the UK, the Restrain sprout inhibition solution is being applied by more than 1.500 growers and other customers in potato storage facilities in 38 countries around the world. A total of more than 1.3 million tonnes of stored potatoes are being treated with the Restrain technology. “This makes Restrain not only a lot cheaper compared to the other alternatives to CIPC, but also more user-friendly,” Hutchison says.

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INTERPOM event postponed until November 2021

Although the Belgian government decided that trade fairs could be organised once again from 1 September 2020 provided they comply with measures as currently applicable to commerce, Kortrijk Xpo and Belgapom have jointly decided to postpone INTERPOM for a year until Sunday 28, Monday 29 and Tuesday 30 November 2021 in Kortrijk Xpo. At the moment, businesses in the potato sector are mainly preoccupied with reorganising themselves as they restart operations.

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AVR and Dacom Farm Intelligence offer field data on a silver platter

For some time now, producer of agricultural machinery AVR has been offering agricultural companies technology for data collection. This data is displayed on the digital platform AVR Connect, offering the farmer improved, real time insights into what is going on inside the machine, how it is operating, and how the process can be made more efficient. This platform has been further developed in collaboration with Dacom Farm Intelligence, allowing for the parcel data to be linked to the machine data, which results in an even more comprehensive overview.

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New Zealand: Submissions open on new potato herbicide Soleto

The Environmental Protection Authority in New Zealand says it is seeking views on an application to import or manufacture Soleto, a broad spectrum herbicide for potatoes. Soleto contains the active ingredient metobromuron, which is approved in Europe but not currently in New Zealand. The applicant, Belchim Crop Protection, wants to import Soleto for the control of broadleaf weeds in potatoes, using ground-based application methods.

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‘Smart Farmer’: An app that assists farmers to keep accurate checks on agricultural machinery

By law, all agriculture vehicles, trailers and machinery require to be properly maintained and fit for purpose. Daily checks must be carried out and a record of these checks should be recorded – traditionally these have been done on paper. Before developing the Smart Farmer app, “I now know exactly what condition each piece of machinery or vehicle is in, who last used it, when it was checked, no matter where I am on the farm and receive an email notification when a issue has been raised,” says app developer, March Skivington. Failing to find an existing solution to meet his needs and after speaking with a number of safety consultants and the Health and Safety, he embarked on developing Smart Farmer. Marc explained.

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Potato blight warnings issued across the UK

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.

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US: Washington State potato industry averts worst case scenario during pandemic

Shawn Goggins reports that Washington State’s potato industry has lost $995,000,000 due to the pandemic, but the seemingly stratospheric figure is the better scenario, according Chris Voigt of the Washington Potato Commission. In fact, as of this week, the last of the 600 million potatoes allotted to processing were used up. In addition, another 200 million pounds were also diverted to dehydrated potato products.

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American lawmakers encourage action on potato dispute with Mexico

A group of U.S. Senators is encouraging action to be taken in the potato dispute with Mexico. In a letter sent to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the lawmakers urged more support for U.S. exports of fresh potatoes. Mexico was the third most important destination for potato exports in the marketing year 2019, valued at $239 million. According to Potatoes USA, the volume of American exports of frozen potato products increased 12 percent to Mexico for the marketing year 2020, after a 20 percent retaliatory tariff resulted in a disappointing 2019.

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France: Pandemic brought uncertainty to potato markets; focus need to be on quality, says UNPT

Covid-19 has shaken up all predictions and profoundly changed the fundamentals of the 2019 campaign in France and the rest of Europe. On the French fresh market, it has meant a revival in terms of household consumption. For the industry, on the other hand, it has caused factories to slow down due to the very sharp decline in restaurant activity all over the world. So says the National Union of French Potato Producers (UNPT) in a recent press release. The organization urges the industry to stay focused on quality products, and not quantity.

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Kooljet: Equipment designed to maintain relative humidity in storages and avoid product weight loss

Relative Humidity (RH) is the measure of the quantity of water vapor in the air at a certain temperature. Maintaining desired pile temperature is important but equally important is to maintain the optimum humidity, explains JD Wasir, Sr. Vice President at Ontario, Canada based Kooljet Refrigeration Systems..“Kooljet Systems helps to maintain high RH levels in the storage facility, and minimizes water loss from the produce, maximizing product quality and value.” JD Wasir notes that Kooljet indeed has a global footprint, and has been assisting farmers since 2001.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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