About Lukie Pieterse

Content Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today; Newsfeed Curator: HZPC Holland and HZPC Americas; LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/lukie. Blog: www.reflectionsonloss.wordpress.com

UK: Guidance on reduced fluazinam sensitivity in late blight populations

Image result for late blight ahdbIn July 2017, AHDB in the UK notified its blight network about reports of the spread of EU_37_A2, a strain of blight first discovered in the Netherlands in 2013 which has shown reduced sensitivity to Fluazinam, a common fungicide used to tackle blight and other diseases. As a result, you can find the two below links to guidelines on how the potato industry should respond to reduced fluazinam sensitivity in late blight populations, which derives from research funded by the AHDB and carried about by SRUC and ADAS. For a full report please use the following – Guidance on how the potato industry should respond to reduced fluazinam sensitivity in late blight populations​. For a summary of the report please use the following – Guidance on reduced fluazinam sensitivity in late blight populations: summary

Bayer launches digital farming solution for field crops

Image result for bayer potatoBayer has launched its xarvio Field Manager in five countries – Germany, France, Austria, Poland, and Ukraine. The new digital solution is for now available in field crops such as potato, wheat, barley, sugar beet and oilseed rape. Further expansion to other crops and countries is expected in the coming months. Field Manager will support European farmers in growing healthy crops by providing recommendations about the right dosage, timing and place of crop protection applicaton. With its digital solutions, Bayer is paving the way for a new agriculture revolution that makes farming more precise, efficient and sustainable. “xarvio Field Manager will enable farmers to be more pro-active in managing their crops and be a step ahead of pests and diseases,” says Andree-Georg Girg, Head of Commercial Operations Digital Farming at Bayer.  Continue reading

New storage service launched for British potato growers

Related imageAHDB’s Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research has announced the launch of a new potato storage service called VarietyCheck for the forthcoming season. According to AHDB, new regulations on acrylamide and fewer sprout suppressants it is more important than ever to get the right storage conditions for your variety of choice. The new service will be tailored to crop variety and dormancy, as well as end use. The VarietyCheck service will objectively assess grower’s new varieties or potato stocks under defined and accurately controlled storage conditions with processing or fresh pack storage options. For processing crops, selecting a variety with long dormancy and an ability to store at lower temperature without sweetening helps your customers overcome these challenges. Similarly, for fresh pack varieties, maintaining appearance and avoiding black heart are high on markets’ wish-lists.  Please contact Adrian Briddon on 01406 359412 to discuss your VarietyCheck requirements.

New report: Consumers are moving away from old definitions of healthy potato snacks

Related imageSnacking is central to the strategy of food companies, with explosive growth in the number of new such products launched between 2010 and 2017: 125% in Europe and 47% in North America. According to a new report from New Nutrition Business, Strategies in Healthy Snacking, this also means that the healthy snacking segment is now an intensely competitive and crowded. “Companies have to work even harder to create a product that brings a real point of difference for the consumer,” says Julian Mellentin, author of the report. Commenting for potatobusiness.com on what consumers are looking for when they ask for healthy potato snacks, Mellentin says: “Consumers are moving away from old definitions of healthy such as reduced fat and reduced salt – reduced salt is of interest only to a minority of people aged 65+. Potato snacks are primarily about indulgence and pleasure and bringing health benefits mustn’t lose sight of this fact.” The report outlines 10 strategies for success in healthy snacking, illustrated with 15 case studies of healthy snacking brands in the US and Europe. More on Potatobusiness.com

Embracing technology key to Australian potato grower’s success

Image result for Scott Rockliff Australian potato growerScott Rockliff knows a thing or two about potato growing. For six generations, the Rockliff family has been growing potatoes along the north-west coast of Tasmania in Sassafras, a 200-year old town renowned for its food and wine production. A lot has changed since Scott Rockliff’s ancestors established the original farm in the 1800s. Nowadays, innovation is a must – understanding the latest in technology required for potato growing and thinking outside the square to produce a consistent crop is essential. Scott says the biggest issue potato growers have faced over the years is that the earnings from their product have stagnated. In an attempt to combat this challenge, Scott has embraced technology on his farm. He added that it was important to not only embrace tractors and ground working equipment but other larger inventions such as the Robot for Intelligent Perception and Precision Application (RIPPA), which the University of Sydney’s Australian Centre for Field Robotics developed for weed management in the vegetable industry. Experimenting with equipment and building on-farm machinery are activities that Scott enjoys. Read the full article on p20 of the latest Potatoes Australia magazine

Belaya Dacha Group and Lamb Weston / Meijer potato processing plant opened in Russia

Yesterday, a new potato processing plant was officially opened in Russia’s Lipetsk region, south of Moscow. This first Russian large-scale french fries production facility was built by a Joint Venture project of the Russian Belaya Dacha Group and Dutch based processor Lamb Weston / Meijer. The construction of the plant was subsidized by the Russian State Program for Agriculture Development. Local production of frozen french fries is said to be ensured and key customers can be supported in the rapidly growing Russian market. During the opening, the Minister highlighted the importance of this production facility, as it is another step towards meeting the Russian food demand through local production. The total investment amounted to 115 million Euros. By the end of 2019, the plant is expected to reach full capacity and process approximately 200 thousand tons of potatoes per year. More

Black dot a particular scourge of fresh market potato crops in GB this season

Black dot has been a particular scourge of fresh market crops this season, according AHDB Potatoes in the UK. Delayed harvesting has encouraged disease spread, increasing the crop’s exposure to infected soil and high levels of moisture. Here’s a reminder of why the problem has been so widespread. Black dot is a disease caused by Colletotrichum coccodes. There is evidence that microsclerotia (resting bodies) of the fungus can survive for many years in soil due, in part, to alternate hosts. It can infect weeds such as nettle, field bindweed and shepherd’s purse.  Survival is further enhanced by the presence of potato volunteers. Black dot can be both seed and soil-borne. Although seed-borne infection can cause disease in progeny tubers, soil inoculum poses a greater threat. Soil contamination is the main source of disease in a progeny crop. Disease risk should be based on evaluation of seed infection and, importantly, soil contamination for which a soil test is available. Black dot is commonly confused with silver scurf (Helminthosporium solani). More in the latest Storage Bulletin from AHDB

McDonald’s Russia turns to local fries from new processing plant, citing Western sanction woes

Related imageFrench fries at McDonald’s restaurants from Moscow to Murmansk will be Russian from now on, as the American fast-food chain turns to homegrown potatoes to deal with ruble volatility caused by fluctuating oil prices and Western sanctions. McDonald’s Corp, which opened in Russia in 1990 as the Soviet Union collapsed, has been gradually turning to local ingredients in its Russian outlets for everything from Big Macs to chicken burgers since it opened its doors there. But till now it had relied on frozen French fries from the Netherlands and Poland as Russian spuds weren’t quite right. Now a new plant near Lipetsk, a city 450 km (280 miles) south of Moscow, using potatoes grown on local farms will supply frozen fries to the chain of 651 outlets across Russia under a long-term contract, raising the share of the chain’s locally sourced products to 98 per cent. Globe and Mail report. Reuters report

Weed control goes digital: Advanced spot-spraying precision technology in development

Weed scientist Andrew McKenzie-Gopsill with digital camera, sensor and controller mechanism that can be  mounted on a sprayer and tractor to read crop plant locations.Researchers are combining new digital tools, computer technologies and machine learning to bring cost-effective weed control solutions to the field. This weed control solution is being designed as an advanced spot-spraying precision technology that will help farmers reduce input costs and add another management tool to their integrated management systems. “We are developing a high-tech ground-based sensor technology as another cost-effective precision agriculture tool for weed control in potatoes and other crops,” says Andrew McKenzie-Gopsill, weed scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Prince Edward Island. This five-year project was initiated in 2017 and is still in the early stages of data collection. The whole control system would be mounted to an existing sprayer, including a small inexpensive camera mounted above the canopy, and a mini computer to connect to the sprayer control system to control which nozzles are turned on or off. More

US: Grower due diligence important in control of newly emerged potato blackleg pathogen

A new blackleg pathogen, Dickeya dianthicola, emerged in the eastern U.S. in 2015. Since then researchers have been working to find ways to control the disease, as it causes significant yield loss in potato crops. While progress in terms of control methods has been slow, growers who have adapted suggested best management practices have contributed to the disease’s decline. While the disease’s decline could be attributed to weather conditions, which were mostly unfavorable to the its development, Gary Secor, professor of plant pathology at North Dakota State University, attributes the drop-off to seed lot testing and growers’ due diligence. “It is a bacterial disease, so we don’t have any really good chemicals that we can use to manage dickeya,” Secor said. Antibiotics were proposed as a possible solution, but Amy Charkowski, head of bioagricultural science and pest management at Colorado State University, says they’re really not an option since they’re very costly. More

Late sown potato crops could be vulnerable to blight

Related imageThe potato blight season has got underway in Great Britain with blight found on dumps in Kent. While such reports are not unusual at this time of year, it is important to be aware of the infection risk posed by cull potato piles, volunteers and solanaceous weeds, says Dr David Cooke of the James Hutton Institute. “Last year we had very early reports then it dried up and blight did not get started until July. But if it continues to be wet until planting, inoculum could stay active and that would be an issue.” Potato agronomist John Sarup says monitoring crops will be particularly important. He adds. “Start early and keep up with spraying. Start with something with early kickback containing cymoxanil. I would not be recommending fluazinam. More

Frito-Lay subsidiary in Egypt launches important programme for local potato seed production

Image result for chipsy egyptChipsy for Food Industries in Egypt, a subsidiary of Pepsico (Frito-Lay) announced a significant new programme for the local production of potato seed. “This comes as a result of Chipsy’s long journey of conducting scientific research and field trials, which saw it being rewarded for its use of innovative and state of the art technologies,” the company said in a press release. Through this programme, Chipsy will be able to provide locally cultivated seeds to the Egyptian market. In 2017, the project helped the company to provide 70% of its seeds from local sources, and thanks to this programme, 100% of Chipsy’s potatoes are now locally sourced. Tamer Mosalam, general manager at Chipsy Egypt, stated, “we are very proud of launching this programme, as it will strongly affect the overall Egyptian agricultural sector, the consumer, and definitely the economy.” More

Potato growers warned that new late blight strain requires fresh approach to control

Image result for New Blight Strain Requires Fresh Approach to ControlBlight control strategies will have to change this season if potato growers are to combat the spread of a new aggressive, fungicide-insensitive/ resistant strain of the disease, leading agronomy firm Hutchinsons in the UK says. The dark green 37_A2 form of Phytopthora infestans has quickly spread across Europe, reaching England two years ago when five cases were reported. Around 20 cases were officially recorded in 2017, mainly in the West Midlands, Yorkshire and Kent, and more recently in Suffolk, but Hutchinsons root crop technical manager Darryl Shailes believes the actual figure could be higher and all crops no matter where they are grown are potentially at risk. The new strain is at least, if not more, aggressive than the dominant blue 13 and pink 6, but the crucial difference is that it appears equally aggressive on foliar and tuber blight, he warns. More

Biofertilizers 2018: Finally making inroads?

Related imageAlthough they may seem like newer entries into the agricultural marketplace, some of the products that are part of the biofertilizers sector have been around for a long time. “Considering some of these products have actually been around for over 20 years, we are just starting to recognize their potential,” observes Dr. Chris Underwood, Chemist and Product Development Manager for AgroLiquid. Of course, part of the reason could be because of some confusion as to what constitutes a biofertilizer vs. a biostimulant. According to most of the experts CropLife® magazine spoke with, biofertilizers are defined as microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi that can increase nutrient availability and utilization by plants. They are oftentimes referred to as a “sub-category” of biostimulants. “Common examples of biofertilizers include mycorrhizai fungi, rhizobium, and plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR),” says Jane Fife, Chief Science Officer for 3Bar Biologics. More

Mixed results for US potato exports, but strong growth in frozen sector

Related imageU.S. exports of fresh potatoes were down 7 percent by volume but up 27 percent by value to $13.6 million in February 2018 compared to 2017. The volume of exports of fresh potatoes (table-stock and chip-stock) were caused by the 33 percent decline to the largest market, Canada. Despite the higher prices, exports of fresh potatoes to Mexico were up 34 percent while Japan (chip-stock) grew by 17 percent and Taiwan was up 95 percent. Frozen potatoes saw strong growth with volume up 6 percent and the value up 6 percent as well, to over $90 million. Exports of dehydrated potatoes were off 12 percent by volume and 6 percent by value for a monthly total of just under $14 million. The increase in frozen exports was driven by 20 percent volume increase to Mexico, 38 percent increase to Central America, 64 percent increase to Taiwan and a 23 percent increase to the Philippines. More