Author: Lukie Pieterse

What are farmers in England investing in to increase income?

Almost half of all farmers in the south-east and east of England have already invested in non-farming activities such as building lets and agro-tourism, as they seek to diversify their income sources, Farmers Weekly reports. The survey found almost one-third of farmers have already invested in things such as tourism and letting building, with another 15% expecting to do so in the next three years.

Canada: PVY in 2019 New Brunswick crop near lowest levels since regulatory caps began

Recent research presented at the N.B. Potato Conference and Tradeshow, Feb. 6th 2020, has highlighted the low levels of Potato virus Y (PVY) in the 2019 seed harvest in New Brunswick, Potato Country magazine reports. PVY levels in the N.B. industry have dropped dramatically since 2009. Average PVY level in all tested potato seed lots harvested in 2009 was 11.8%, which over a decade dropped to only 0.63% in the 2019 harvest.

Washington State trial program: Helping potato growers diagnose seed-borne issues

A Washington state trial program highlights the seed-borne diseases impacting potato crops across the region. The Washington Commercial Potato Seed Lot Trial has been conducted for 56 years since 1961. This useful trial also helps individual growers diagnose seed-borne issues that occasionally show up in their crop. Prof Carrie Huffman Wohleb at Washington State University explains how it works in an article published by American Vegetable Grower magazine.

Branston hopes for purple patch for Violet Queen potato variety

Branston, potato supplier based in the UK, is asking shoppers whether they want to see its new Violet Queen variety become a mainstay of the potato aisles as part of its launch of the eye-catching purple variety, Fruitnet reports. Violet Queen is being launched into selected Tesco stores for a limited time from this month, having been developed for its unusual colour and rich texture.

Coronavirus Opinion: When a danger is growing exponentially, everything looks fine until it doesn’t

There’s an old brain teaser that goes like this: You have a pond of a certain size, and upon that pond, a single lilypad. This particular species of lily pad reproduces once a day, so that on day two, you have two lily pads. On day three, you have four, and so on. Now the teaser. “If it takes the lily pads 48 days to cover the pond completely, how long will it take for the pond to be covered halfway?” The answer is 47 days. Moreover, at day 40, you’ll barely know the lily pads are there.

Backing up biodiversity: CIP deposits potato seed in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault

The International Potato Center (CIP) recently joined 34 other organizations across the globe in depositing more than 60,000 seeds in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a biodiversity bunker in a mountainside of an Arctic island in Norway. That mass deposit of seeds of an array of crops helped raise the number of samples stored in Svalbard to more than one million, but for the CIP genebank, it was just the latest such delivery in an ongoing effort to back up its extensive collections of potato, sweetpotato, Andean roots and tubers, and the wild relatives of those crops.

Australian shoppers urged to eat smarter and add more potatoes to supermarket trolleys

Australians stockpiling groceries to prepare for COVID-19 are being warned against wasting food by a leading Australian authority. “International experience tells us that food becomes much more valued during these trying times, and in turn everyone should focus on reducing their food waste,” Dr Lapidge said. Potatoes South Australia is launching a five-day social media campaign telling buyers to think about alternatives to emptying supermarket shelves of dry staples like pasta and rice.

Idaho stores somehow selling out of potatoes

Odd as it may sound, Idaho retailers have been experiencing fresh potato shortages lately, John O’Connell of Post Register reports. Several produce departments throughout the Gem State were sold out of every potato consumer bag and loose spud by Tuesday, as consumers seeking to stock their pantries for the coronavirus outbreak bought foods that store well by the cartload. “It is strange. I didn’t think I’d ever see a shortage, at least at the store level, of potatoes in Idaho,” said Travis Blacker, industry relations director with the Idaho Potato Commission.

South Koreans are coming to the rescue of the country’s coronavirus-hit potato farmers

Some people outside of South Korea may remember Gangwon province, located some 50 miles from North Korea, as the location of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. To locals, however, the cool and mountainous region is known for its firm, large potatoes that are used to produce delicacies such as dumplings and pancakes. Demand for Gangwon’s famed potatoes, however, came crashing down this year with the coronavirus outbreak.,

From hunger to profitable harvest: How GMO, CRISPR-edited plants can help curb $220 billion in annual crop losses

Plant diseases arguably pose the biggest threat to agriculture, exacting a dramatic economic toll and endangering the livelihoods of farmers all over the world, writes Steven Cerier in this article published by Genetic Literacy Project (GLP). Scientists in the Netherlands and Ireland have successfully carried out field trials of a disease-resistant genetically engineered potato. The new variety was created through a process of cisgenesis.

In India’s Assam state, potatoes are grown with no-tillage; growers receive post-harvest training

As farmers look to grow more food for their families and the marketplace, increasing production sustainably remains a consistent challenge. But a CIP project in Assam state in India has discovered an easy way to produce an annual crop of potatoes with no-tillage and very few additional inputs. For the first time in the State, a day-long training of post-harvest management of potato was recently conducted.

COVID-19: Labour shortage but plenty fruits and vegetables available

The horticultural industry in general relies greatly on international workers and the travel limitations could become a serious issue. “I’ve been on the phone all morning and with this Covid-19 virus and people not being allowed into the country, the farming community in British Columbia [Canada] is in a panic because there’s so many farmers that rely on the arrival of migrant workers from Mexico and Central America.” Also in New Zealand the effects become clear. The situation in Australia is the same.

No diquat: How to plan potato planting for trouble-free crop desiccation

With the absence of desiccant diquat, British potato producers are being advised to pay careful attention to field layout, nitrogen management and blight control strategy before planting this spring, according to an article published in Farmers Weekly. Machinery manufacturers have reported a big increase in topper sales in recent months, suggesting that many growers and contractors are gearing up for this mechanical approach.

India: Windfall for Punjab’s potato farmers as crop hits all-time high prices

It’s a happy time for the potato farmers of Punjab, with their crop hitting the highest rate ever known due to low production in other states because of a delayed monsoon last year. Farmers are currently getting Rs 1,600 per quintal for their table crop, which is currently being harvested. For the past four years, they had been getting Rs 300 to Rs 400 per quintal. Traders and stockists of other states like Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are hoping to get higher prices after purchasing the crop from Punjab.

Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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