Latest potato news from around the World

Processing markets in Britain look to the return of education sectors; exports started strongly

Free-buy potato markets in the UK continue to see pressure on prices. Increasingly available supply for markets has met a widespread muted level of demand. Trade has remained on a steady level, consisting of mostly repeat orders. Processing markets have been reported as steady this week, with some better levels of demand for frozen potato products following the government ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ voucher scheme. Processing markets look to the return of education sectors for an increased level of demand in the next few weeks.

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Novel decision support tool under development for preventative in-field potato disease testing

Dr Sarah Sommer and her market research team is working on multiplexed potato virus lateral flow assays at the Newcastle University. The aim is to develop a simple but effective preventative disease testing kit that combines with a smart phone app. Sarah would like to know how the tool can be used in a practical environment and connect with interested potato industry people with whom she can discuss the concept, its further development and eventual application.

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Oyster reef restoration efforts in Florida get help from potato chip byproduct

Longtime work to restore oyster reefs in the Indian River Lagoon has found a new, unusual ally: potato chips. The Coastal and Estuarine Ecology Lab at UCF has been experimenting with various products looking for an effective, biodegradable material for restoration that’s inexpensive. For the past 14 months the group has been testing a mesh made from leftover potato starch collected from chip factories. So far, it’s been a successful method providing habitats for the lagoon’s vital shellfish population.

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‘British potato crops at risk of disease during slower desiccation’, say specialists

Potato growers in the UK are at risk of virus and disease threat if they do not follow an integrated approach to new desiccation regimes, say experts working on the third year of desiccation trials taking place across AHDB Farm Excellence sites. Results and observations at the trial sites have shown that the slower ‘kill’ achieved by the chemical and mechanical alternatives to diquat means that green stems and leaves can still be present up to three weeks after desiccation sprays. Even very small amounts of ‘green material’ remain a viable target for virus-carrying aphids and diseases.

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New Zealand: Health Ministry refuses Covid exemption for potato crisp and biscuit workers

The Ministry of Health is moving to counter criticism that it is using its powers to exempt trucks and workers moving in and out of Auckland to restrict workers going to jobs in potato crisp factories. The chief executive of the Food and Grocery Council, Katherine Rich, is particularly critical that the role of granting the exemption to cross in and out of the Auckland Council region has shifted from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to the Ministry of Health.

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Coronavirus reduced Egypt’s potato exports by 25 percent

The head of the Union for Producers and Exporters of Horticultural Crops (UPEHC) Mohamed Heggi announced Saturday that Egypt’s exports of potatoes this year has fallen by 25 percent, due to the coronavirus crisis and its impact on exports in general. Egypt exported 673,000 tons of potatoes this year, falling short of the target for 850,000 tons. He added that potatoes were planted on 408,000 feddans (171,000 ha), with the largest amount cultivated during the winter planting period which saw production reaching three million tons.

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In-depth study looks at the impact of COVID-19 on the potato supply chain in the US

When COVID-19 hit, the dynamics in the food supply chain were catapulted into completely uncharted waters, the team at ClimateAI writes in an article published on Medium. The authors dive deep into one crop that has been front and center throughout the pandemic: the potato. What happens to the supply chain when McDonalds stops producing fries, restaurants around the world are forced to close overnight, and potato chips and table potatoes become retail gold? According to ClimateAI, the case study will help readers build a deep understanding of the impacts that the pandemic sent rippling across the food supply chain.

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‘Grow Your Own Potatoes’ project in Britain a success despite pandemic crisis

Keeping children engaged in the Grow Your Own Potatoes (GYOP) project has been a priority for AHDB Potatoes’ education team, ever since schools closed back in March, not long after planting their potatoes as part of this year’s GYOP project. GYOP was launched in 2004 and since then over 5 million children in Britain have discovered where potatoes come from, how they grow and their health benefits. The value of the programme has been recognised by the general public, and also by the potato and food industry.

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Dry weather, dusty fields growing concern in Maine’s potato country

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.

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Lay’s introduces potato chip flavors modeled after countries

Lay’s is hoping some new potato chip flavors can partially satisfy some cravings folks may have for the food at some of their favorite travel destinations. Since you can’t hop on a plane, Lay’s is bringing the destination to customers. The four new flavors feature Greece, Thailand, Mexico, and Germany. You can’t just get them in the store: you have to win them. To do so, just reply to one of the company’s social media pages and tell them which country you’d like to visit.

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Latest desiccation research: Reaching skinset depends on a range of factors

You cannot use what’s happening above ground as a guide to what’s happening below, according to new research into alternative desiccants, according to potato specialists at the UK’s AHDB. A key finding from the work is that the rate of potato foliage desiccation does not correlate well with that of skinset, the key to harvesting without damage. The discovery was among the key findings of a project examining the best alternative desiccants to diquat carried out by NIAB CUF on behalf of AHDB.

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Drought hitting Canada’s Maritime farms hard, especially Prince Edward Island potato growers

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.

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Down history lane: The first Spudnik ‘AirSep’ potato harvester marks the start of a potato equipment success story

Potato growre Matthew Porter approached Spudnik Equipment Company in Idaho in 2010 to see how he can increase the quality and reduce the bruising of the potatoes grown and harvested on his farm in the fertile but rocky soil of Maine. After a year of development efforts, Spudnik’s motivated engineers came up with a new technology and a solution for Matthew’s problem. It was called the ‘AirSep’. After a year of development efforts, Spudnik’s motivated engineers came up with a new technology and a solution for Matthew’s problem. It was called the ‘AirSep’.

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Novel insulation coating material holds promise for potato storages and processing facilities

Advanced Coating Solutions, headquartered in Kirkland, WA in the US produces a thin insulation coating material that works by blocking heat transfer. Instead of using mass to work as a heat sink and absorb heat (fiberglass), the thin insulation coating works like the ‘Low E’ window concept, where thin oxide coatings diffuse infrared radiation. Thin air gaps also provide additional conductive resistance. Founder of Advance Coating Solutions, Richard Stratton is keen to discuss the benefits of his company’s products for potato storages and processing facilities.

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Maltese potato donation arrives in Namibia

Erongo governor Neville Andre in Namibia on Friday received twenty refrigerated shipping containers (500 tonnes) with potatoes which Malta sent to Namibia as a donation. The Mediterranean island had an excess stock of potatoes this season, resulting in the donation to Namibia through its government overseas aid programme. This consignment of potatoes will be distributed to approximately 160 000 people in vulnerable communities in Namibia.

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Webinar now online: Desiccation – how to apply diquat alternatives to potato crops

AHDB has published its 19 August webinar regarding potato desiccation online as a YouTube video. I shows pictures and video clips of commercial potato crops during haul destruction. It also contains tips and guidance from leading researchers on how to apply desiccants, and use mechanical alternatives to diquat for desiccation of potato crops. Trial results and observations from research into how to desiccate seed potato and ware potato crops without diquat are in the spotlight as well in the video.

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‘Soils In Practice’ event returns for its fourth annual conference in October

The Farmers Weekly’s ‘Soils In Practice’ is returning for its fourth annual conference in the UK on 21 October. Soils in Practice brings together experts and industry professionals from across the UK agricultural sector, providing a platform to discuss the latest advances in boosting soil fertility and best practice in soil management. The event aims to help farmers understand some of the practical steps that can be taken to measure and promote healthy soil in a sustainable farm setting.

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Processing potato varieties yielding lower in Belgium, but fry quality is good

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.

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Branston staff will ‘travel the world in 80 days’ to support charities

Staff members at UK-based potato supplier Branston are planning to virtually travel around the world in 80 days to support its charity of the year, Children’s Hospices South West. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Branston had to cancel its fundraising events this year, including its big annual 100-mile sponsored cycle. However, it will now be taking part in a walking, running, cycling and canoeing challenge to see if the team can virtually make it around the world in 80 days.

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NFU: ‘Food security must be key part of Britain’s green recovery from Covid-19’

A green recovery from Covid-19 is a ‘golden opportunity’ for British farming to become a global leader in delivering food security and set the benchmark for sustainable food production around the world, the NFU said today. NFU President Minette Batters said: “Our self-sufficiency in vegetables and potatoes is falling and it’s low in fruit. We can and should drive a horticulture revolution. At a time when we should all be eating more fruit and veg, we should be looking to our farmers to deliver more quality, affordable and home-grown fresh produce to our shelves.

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Blackleg in potato crops – filling the knowledge gaps

Blackleg is one of the most damaging bacterial plant diseases in the UK, responsible for annual losses of £50m for the British potato industry. AHDB says in a news article published today that it is supporting and funding multiple projects researching this disease. A project which started three years ago, looking at how to achieve better control of blackleg, will be completed this summer, while another one which will also last for three year is just starting. A large project which was co-funded by AHDB & Scottish Government is due to finish this summer.

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‘It’s all in the name’: Potato variety company C. Meijer BV became ‘Meijer Potato’

It was announced earlier this week that renowned Dutch-based potato variety and seed company C. Meijer BV has re-branded its identity and will from now on be known as ‘Meijer Potato’. The new name is said to do justice to the company’s international scope and stature. Almost 90% of the company’s turnover is generated outside of the Netherlands. The company’s mission, “Everyone deserves to enjoy food”, reflects Meijer Potato’s ambition. The company says on its website it’s mission is to provide more people with the opportunity to enjoy food.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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