Kristján Már Unnarsson writes in a news story published by Visir that potato farmers in Iceland’s Þykkvabær are thankful for the warmth and rain at the end of summer. They are now heading for an acceptable harvest after the cold season well into the summer. This became clear during a live broadcast on Stöðvar 2’s news in the potato field in Rangárvallasýsla where they talked to potato farmer Sigurbjart Pálsson. The outlook for potatoes in Þykkvabær was not good here until after the summer.
Latest potato news from around the World
Following eight years at the helm of Potatoes South Australia, Robbie Davis will be stepping down from her role of Chief Executive at the end of 2020. The change comes as the Association moves into new territory with a greater emphasis on Brand Australia and growing national significance of the world’s 3rd largest food crop to the Australian horticulture industry. Despite this inevitable and exciting new challenge, Robbie believes it is the right time to say farewell to the representative body she has built with the help of a band of dedicated stakeholders from all sectors.
Potato consumption has remained resilient in Britain over the past six months, despite closures in the foodservice market, according to figures released by AHDB. Strong retail sales led to an overall 12% volume increase for potatoes in the six months to 9 August, according to AHDB estimates based on Kantar data. Over the 24 weeks ending (w/e) 9 August, retail sales volumes of potatoes and potato products rose well ahead of the total food and non-alcoholic drink uplift. The return of big fast food brands in June helped lift takeaway volumes of potatoes.
Dewulf, full-liner in machines for the cultivation of potatoes and root crops, have fitted their renowned R3060 series sieving harvesters with several updates. Every new R3060 is now equipped with a brand new, more environmentally friendly Scania Stage V engine. To further optimise the engine performance, the engine compartment also got a new grille for improved heat management. In the cabin, the driver’s comfort has also been further improved, thanks to new HD monitors and cameras.
The Irish Federation of Agriculture (IFA) reports in its weekly market update report that liftings continue at pace this week across Ireland as weather conditions have improved. The IFA says conditions are still challenging in parts of the country and growers are behind schedule at this stage. According to the IFA, the first EU 27 production estimate puts the total crop at 54.8mt’s which is about 3.7mt’s higher than last year. The total planted area at 1.655 million ha’s is about 26,000 ha’s higher than last year.
The director of GIC Ltd in the UK has celebrated 21 years’ service by finalising a five-figure expansion project that will increase his company’s production facility by 25%. GIC works extensively with potato and fresh produce packers. Andy Beal joined GIC in Gainsborough at the end of August 1999, becoming the packaging machinery manufacturer’s managing director following a management buyout in 2007. This month, Andy signed off on the building of a new mezzanine floor at GIC’s factory, which will add 100 square metres to the company’s production area.
Potato seed and ware exports from the UK could be interrupted in a Brexit no deal scenario and there are signs that seed potato growers are looking to export potatoes before the transition period ends on December 31, writes Marianne Curtis in an article published by Farmers Guardian. Patrick Hughes, AHDB head of export trade development – potatoes, explains: “At the moment we don’t have third country equivalence and if there is no deal, it will not be in the offing straightaway. This would stop all exports of potatoes to the EU – both seed and ware.”
Many potato fields across Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) are not in the condition they are usually at this time of year due to the hot and dry conditions for much of July and August, reports John Robertson for CBC News. He reports that the Canadian Drought Monitor had much of central P.E.I. in extreme drought condition as of Aug. 31. While there has been more rain in September, in the first half of the month it is only about half of normal rainfall.
In a recent blog post, VITO Remote Sensing announced that it has produced an annual interactive crop map for Belgium for the third consecutive year. The crop map shows the main crop type on each individual field cultivated in the 2020 growing season and is openly available via an interactive online viewer. Just as was done for the 2018 and 2019 maps, VITO Remote Sensing deployed its automatic field boundary detection tool based on Sentinel-2 imagery and a convolutional neural network to precisely delineate the fields.
PhD opportunity in Australia: ‘Development of molecular diagnostic tests to detect key plant parasitic cyst nematodes’
Details about this project are published on the Australasian Plant Pathology Society’s Jobnet. It entails the “Development of molecular diagnostic tests to detect key plant parasitic cyst nematodes in soil and in planta that impact Australian agricultural production and restrict market access”. This project proposes to build Victoria’s capability to detect and identify plant parasitic cyst nematodes using molecular techniques.
This article was written by Canadian potato specialists, Dr Eugenia Banks (Ontario Potato Board) and Mark VanOostrum (WD Potato Ltd), and we publish it here with permission. They write: An essential requirement for a long storage period is that the storage conditions match the needs and the end use of the crop. The storage requirements of the crop can be assessed before harvest by doing several test digs which allow to determine – if present – the distribution and level of tuber infection. If there are risky areas in a field such as low spots that have blighted potatoes, skip those areas, do not harvest them.
Through the Innovative Farmers programme, four farmers located in Shropshire and Lancashire in the UK are looking at an alternative control method that uses plants known as trap crops that naturally ward off potato cyst nematodes (PCN). Trap crops are better described as ‘deceiving’ rather than ‘trapping’ plants. The chemicals released from the trap crop roots signal the presence of suitable food and trigger the nematodes to emerge from their safe hiding place in the cyst. The nematodes begin feeding on the trap plant roots instead of the potatoes, ahead of potato cropping.
“Whether you call them French fries, pommes frites, or chips, the fried potato is one of the most elusive of foods to get right, though countless entities try and most fail on a nearly daily basis,” writes David Todd McCarty in this delightful article published in The Standard. “The fact they they appear so simple, yet seem to be so difficult to master, may be one of the reasons we are so drawn to them,” McCarty figures. “They are a bit like good summer corn, random sex, or a perfect golf shot…
If you’re a British farmer looking to engage with your local school, AHDB says it is ready to help. In a recent news release, AHDB says it provides tools and resources that help farmers educate schoolchildren about farming and where food comes from. There are five different ways farmers can help children learn more about farming.
As the ‘no travel’ trend continues into the holidays, Side Delights offers easy solutions for consumers choosing to stay home or close to home this holiday season. In a recent study, 58% of consumers are not planning to travel for the holiday season—up from 49% last year. In August, data showed that winter holiday bookings were 65.4% behind where they were around a similar time period in 2019.
LOCKWOOD Manufacturing has expanded its service reach for customers in the Columbia Basin of Washington and Oregon. SS Equipment, LOCKWOOD’s service dealer in the area, hired Justin Benzel as a dedicated LOCKWOOD service technician. “We’re proud to expand both our sales and service support for potato growers of the region,” said Dan Birrenkott, president of Crary Industries and LOCKWOOD Manufacturing.
While shoppers’ smiles are currently hidden behind their masks, they’ll soon spot plenty of friendly faces in the snack aisle thanks to Lay’s, which is converting millions of potato chip bags to feature the real smiles of 30 “ordinary” people doing extraordinary things in their communities. During a time when joy is needed more than ever, the new Lay’s bags continue the brand’s mission to inspire even more smiles in 2020, with up to $1 million in proceeds benefitting Operation Smile.
With the Scottish seed potato harvest beginning a fortnight ahead of normal, SRUC consultant Dr Stuart Wale has reminded growers of the threat from dry rot, according to a news article published by Potato Review magazine. He recommends two fungicide options in this situation: Gavel (imazalil) and Storite Excel (thiabendazole) which can be used alone or in mixture. Dr Wale urged growers to have a conversation with their seed suppliers sooner rather than later to discuss treatment.
British potato growers have entered some uncharted waters this season, as they cope with the first season without desiccant diquat for many years. In addition, spuds are now being loaded into store, with no prospect of treatment using the cheap, but now-banned sprout suppressant CIPC, adding further uncertainty to the production process this year. Two potato storage experts give tips on how to minimise losses as we enter the 2020-21 storage period: Norfolk-based storage specialist Tim Kitson of Potato Solutions, and Adrian Cunnington, head of AHDB’s Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research.
Historically, biotech has been primarily associated with food, addressing such issues as malnutrition and famine, writes Brian Colwell in this article published by Genetic Literacy Project (GLP). Colwell concludes his article saying: “Today, biotechnology is being used in countless areas including agriculture, bioremediation and forensics, where DNA fingerprinting is a common practice. Industry and medicine alike use the techniques of PCR, immunoassays and recombinant DNA. Genetic manipulation has been the primary reason that biology is now seen as the science of the future and biotechnology as one of the leading industries.”
Forget pizza. The potato is America’s favorite food, next to dairy products. Idaho is the undisputed leader in the U.S. potato industry and that makes our famous potatoes the top crop in the state. But it hasn’t always been that way. Science and modern technology have transformed potato production from the labor-intensive endeavor it used to be when the crop was hand-picked and sacked in the field.
Total losses from the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the Washington State’s potato industry is estimated to top $1 billion, according to a study by Washington State University. Farmers have lost about $29.2 million from the drop in demand and quality of the 2019 harvest, according to the release. Acreage for the 2020 fall harvest dropped 13%, which represents a drop of more than 729,000 tons of potatoes, according to the commission.