Over 40 potato growers and agronomists met at AHDB Potatoes’ Welsh Potato Day near Haverfordwest on 2 February to exchange technical knowledge aimed at producing the perfect crop. Pembrokeshire is renowned nationally for producing high-quality potatoes using an eco-friendly farming system, where potatoes are usually grown in rotation with grassland. This method has many benefits including maintaining healthy and nutritious soil, but the grassland is attractive to wireworm, a pest that causes damage to potato crops. Wireworms, the larvae of click beetles (Elateridae), live for several years in the soil, and can drill deep holes into potato tubers. Left untreated, this can leave a potato crop completely unsaleable resulting in big losses for the grower. Puffin Produce, a Pembrokeshire potato company, has helped sponsor a PhD student at Swansea University to conduct research on managing the pest. Ben Clunie addressed the event on the various biological ways of tackling wireworm that he has studied during his first year. These include using natural enemies such as fungi and nematodes, essential oils and pheromone traps. Download the full presentations from the event here
As a part of a Registration Review process, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) in the US is reviewing the data associated with the use of Chlorpropham (CIPC) – the major sprout inhibitor used in the potato industry. The Task Force representing the companies that manufacture and sell CIPC are actively working with EPA to provide any additional data to support the continued registration of this important compound. The output of the models used by EPA to evaluate any potential impacts of the use of CIPC on applicators, the environment or human health, depends on the accuracy of the assumptions about use patterns. EPA initially assumed that 100 per cent of the crop is treated. The National Potato Council (NPC) provided comments that questioned that assumption. Based on the percentage of the crop used for seed and that used directly from the field after harvest, NPC estimated that between 55 and 65 percent of the potato crop is treated with CIPC. These comments encouraged EPA to use that estimate, or per cent crop treated, as they evaluated the use of CIPC. (Source: National Potato Council)
British potato suppliers Albert Bartlett have signed up to Sport Relief by pledging to donate 5p for every promotional bag of Rooster potatoes sold. [Sport Relief is a biennial charity event from Comic Relief, in association with BBC Sport, which brings together the worlds of sport and entertainment to raise money to help vulnerable people in both the UK and the world’s poorest countries.] The company said they were creating a number of sporting initiatives and campaigns to encourage its consumers and staff to get involved with Sport Relief, which runs from 17 – 23 March. Albert Bartlett head of marketing Michael Jarvis said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Sport Relief and helping its work both to improve the lives of people in the UK and internationally and in getting the nation off the couch.” More
Seed potato farmers in Kenya’s potato growing regions are adopting promising technology with potential to boost quality seed availability. The farmers are using rooted apical cuttings as starter material for seed production as opposed to certified seed. The cuttings technology has been introduced in Kenya by the International Potato Center (CIP) under a programme funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). A cutting is similar to a nursery-grown seedling, except that it is produced through vegetative means and does not originate from a seed. Cuttings are produced from tissue culture plantlets in the screen house, rather than minitubers, and after rooting, are planted in the field. Each cutting produces 7 to 10, and up to 15+ tubers which are multiplied a further season or two, then the harvest is used and/or sold as seed. This means that the seed that farmers buy is equivalent to basic or ‘certified one’ seed in seed certification systems, and will produce high yielding crops. Currently the technology targets seed multipliers, but expanding to ware farmers. Continue reading
Tanzania has excelled in experimental trials of high yielding and disease resistant potato varieties under a Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) programme of the FAO aimed to improve food security in the country. Three of 14 varieties brought into the country by the International Potato Centre (CIP) for field trials did well and two of them will soon be released. Two of these are Unica, locally known as Mkanano (and known as ‘Qingshu 9’ in China); and Shangii, which will be released to farmers for cultivation after proving resilience to climate vagaries. The third variety, Mvono, is now with the Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute for national performance trials. “Mvono is being tested for the first time in the world. Its first field trials are taking place in Tanzania”, said Dr Stephano Sebastian, the principal agricultural research officer with HORTI-Tengeru. Experimental trials and promotion of potato is one of the projects implemented within the East African region under the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) research programme on climate change, agriculture and food security. More
Two Kingston University graduates in the UK have created an environmentally friendly, sustainable and biodegradable alternative to medium-density fibreboard (MDF), and the product was produced from potato peelings. Graduates Rob Nicol and Rowan Minkley are the team behind Chip[s] Board® – a potato-based product turning food waste material from restaurants into a robust ready-to-use chipboard-like sheet. “Unlike its resin based counterparts, Chip[s] Board® is biodegradable post-use and doesn’t contain formaldehyde or any other toxic resins and chemicals”, according to a dedicated website for the product. The environmentally friendly product is strong enough to construct temporary structures designed to last more than a month. “We have some samples that are over a year old now – It lasts as a material without degrading,” Rowan explained. More
For decades, potatoes have been branded unhealthy and we have been advised to avoid consuming too many of them. But now, researchers say that consuming the popular tuber is actually good for you. In fact, they claim that you could eat potatoes, and nothing else, for the rest of your life and ‘remain pretty healthy‘. In a medical U-turn, scientists who reviewed a host of evidence are pushing for potatoes to be reassessed for their ‘clear’ health benefits. They have uncovered evidence in a 60-page report that the humble crop could slash the risk of having a heart attack and may even protect against dementia. Professor Derek Stewart, from the James Hutton Institute in Scotland, and co-author of the report said: “The studies we looked at found a whole raft of different benefits. If you have to live the rest of your life on just one thing, you could do it on potatoes and remain pretty healthy. There are not many crops you can say that about. …Other research has found a strong association with enhanced cognitive function in the elderly if they’re eating potatoes.” The full report can be downloaded as a pdf file. Or go to this page and follow the appropriate link.
Scottish seed potatoes sent to Kenya have performed strongly on three trial sites, AHDB has revealed. The farm levy organisation has been working with Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) to open the Kenyan market for GB seed potatoes since a bilateral agreement was signed by the Scottish and Kenyan governments in 2016. Well-known British varieties were exported to Kenya and planted on three different farms to assess the yield and quality of each. Cara had the strongest performance with average yields across all three farms at more than 20 tonnes per acre. AHDB said the yields were similar to those achieved in Britain, but much higher than those normally achieved by farmers in Kenya who typically experience yields of around 4tonnes per acre. This is blamed on the fact that 95% of farmers in the country use poor quality home-saved seed, rather than high-quality imported seed. More
In a new study published in the American Journal of Potato Research on potato black dot disease, entitled “Potato Black Dot – The Elusive Pathogen, Disease Development and Management“, scientists Dennis A. Johnson, Brad Geary and Leah (Lahkim) Tsror say black dot caused by Colletotrichum coccodes was initially considered a mild disease of potato, mainly infecting weakened plants. In the past two decades however, the fungus has been reported to infect roots and stems relatively early in the growing season, be prevalent on potato and in field soil in major potato production regions of the world, cause early death of foliage by itself and in association with other pathogens, reduce plant and root growth, and to reduce potato yields, as well as causing unsightly blemishes on tubers. The scope of this research paper is to define our current understanding on the disease and summarize disease management strategies. An abstract of the study and instructions to obtain the full paper can be found here.
The 2018 Ontario Potato Conference & Trade Show in Canada will be held on March 6 at the Delta Hotel and Conference Center in Guelph. Several topics related to potato production issues important to growers will be on the agenda, and attendees will be addressed by several experts in Canada, the US as well as the United Kingdom. Some of the topics include seed performance, late blight fungicides, latest on blackleg research, common scab control, Zebra chip, and Dicamba drift ( said to be a new danger for potato growers). The full programme is available on this page, and online registration can be completed here. Further information is available from conference organizer, Dr Eugenia Banks: email@example.com
This free webinar with Scott Stuntz, managing editor of Spudman magazine, features YARA’s potato crop manager in North America, Jimmy Ridgway, and the director of agronomic services at YARA in North America, Dr. Steve Petrie. Petrie and Ridgway share insights from extensive crop nutrition research and trials done over the years by YARA. They also discuss technology, tools and services to provide growers with practical guidelines related to potato crop nutrition. Just access this page in your browser and then complete a simple registration form to join the hour long presentation on ReadyTalk.
Leading potato supplier, Albert Bartlett, is enjoying significant environmental savings within its supply chain thanks to the use of Chep’s pooled pallets. The Scottish potato company supplies own label and branded lines of potatoes to retail, wholesale, food service and processing customers, and recently signed a three-year contract renewal with Chep, an international company dealing in pallet and container pooling services. Russell White, Head of Operations, said: “The savings that we’re able to realise through the use of Chep’s pooling model are fantastic. It feels like we are making a real difference, working together to minimise the impact our supply chain is having on the environment.” Chep UK & Ireland Managing Director Helen Lane: “Environmental sustainability is at the heart of everything we do at Chep. 100% of our timber now comes from forests certified as sustainable. Our pallets are continually repaired, reused and shared, and because they are made to a higher standard than white wood pallets, they last up to 10-times longer.” More