Key Technology and Heat and Control announce strategic partnership in Australia, New Zealand and India

Key Technology, Inc., a member of the Duravant family of operating companies, and Heat and Control Pty Ltd. announced that they have entered into a strategic partnership to support customers in Australia, New Zealand and India. Under the terms of the agreement, Key has appointed Heat and Control as their exclusive agent to sell and service Key’s digital sorters, vibratory conveyors and other automation systems in Australia, New Zealand and India, effective immediately. The partnership leverages Heat and Control’s extensive sales and service organization to sell and support all of Key’s equipment in the defined regions, including providing application testing, field service and spare parts. Additionally, Heat and Control will manufacture select Key-designed vibratory conveyors at their facilities in Australia and India in strict accordance with Key’s specifications. Bringing these two well-established, world-class suppliers together to achieve a common purpose augments both companies’ value propositions and benefits customers.  Continue reading

West Australia’s spuds set for all-clear to head east again

Image result for australia potatoWest Australia’s potato growers could regain access to Eastern States markets by the end of the year, after a big biosecurity effort demonstrated a rare bug found in WA does not carry a damaging bacteria. The tomato potato psyllid was detected in WA 18 months ago, causing Eastern States markets to shut their doors to WA potatoes, a move estimated to have cost local growers tens of millions of dollars. While it has been accepted the psyllid itself cannot be eradicated, WA has met surveillance requirements to demonstrate the absence of the bacteria known as CLso in WA, meaning other States can reopen their borders to the State’s potatoes. To achieve an area freedom certificate, Department of Primary Industries officers tested more than 10,000 psyllids and almost 12,000 host plants over three growing seasons. Albany grower Colin Ayres estimated the problem cost his business more than $2 million, after he found there was no market for perfectly good seed potatoes. He halved his plantings the following season. Read more

New Zealanders take a closer look at ‘the good oil on fish and chips’

Seafood Bazaar manager Petrina Taua-Hunt says the Hamilton business prides itself on serving top quality fish and chips.While other countries regulate fryer fat use, experts in New Zealand say degraded oils at its favourite chippies is concerning. The key to producing good fish and chips is to use top-quality oil, filter the frying vats each day, regularly change the oil, and cook oils at the right temperature. But industry experts say not all fast food operators are making the health grade, and neighbourhood chippies are some of the worst offenders. Chemist Dr Laurence Eyres, a specialist in oils and fats, says the prevalence of fast food outlets using old degraded oils is concerning. “How often have you been in a fish and chip shop and it makes your eyes water because they are using the cooking fat well past its shelf life? It’s these oils that can have high levels of nasty compounds and which can be bad for you.”  Continue reading

Australian drought: Devastating impact of worst drought in living memory across New South Wales

Harry Taylor plays with the bones of dead livestock on his family farm. The worst drought ever recorded is sweeping large parts of in particular eastern Australia. The entire Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) has been declared in drought after a drier-than-expected June and July.  The entire state of New South Wales is effectively, and now officially, drought-declared. There is virtually no fodder left for livestock. June and July have been much drier than expected, resulting in failing crops, water shortages and a diminishing supply of fodder to sustain stock, Australian Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said. “Producers are now faced with some very difficult decisions on whether to graze sown crops or rely on potential rainfall in the next two months in order to increase yield production.” A farmer has shared a horrifying image of a standing kangaroo skeleton to demonstrate the devastating impact of the drought on wildlife. It’s not just those on the land who are feeling the pinch, however. Across the state, businesses in rural and regional centres are reporting a downturn in business as belts are tightened. Read more. And more

McCain Foods Australia being investigated for “unconscionable conduct towards growers”

Related imageA Northern Tasmanian farmer has lashed out at McCain Foods (Australia) over contract potato pricing, as the consumer watchdog begins its investigation into the vegetable processor. The farmer, who has a contract with McCain, doesn’t wish to be identified due to potential backlash, said growers were sick of the low prices they were being paid by the processor for their product. “We are being paid $26 less that what we were being paid 10 years ago,” he said. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is investigating the processor over allegations of unconscionable conduct towards growersLetters have been sent this week to McCain growers from the ACCC, urging them to be part of its investigation. The farmer said growers had engaged in conversation with the processor regarding the price but they had not been very productive. “Farmers are the ones that have to take all the risks, we have to contend with everything nature throws at us and we still get such low prices,” he said. Read more

Ways to reduce the impact of black scurf on potatoes

Image result for black scurf potatoesRhizoctonia solani causes a number of common disease symptoms found in potato
crops including black scurf, leading to skin disfiguration, stunted plants and restricted
stem and plant growth. Syngenta Technical Services Lead Dave Antrobus in Australia examines the best management practices potato growers can undertake to minimise the damage caused by this disease. Writing in the latest issue of Potatoes Australia, he says Rhizoctonia solani causes a number of common disease symptoms found in potato crops including black scurf, leading to skin disfiguration, stunted plants and restricted stem and plant growth. There are specific conditions that help AG3 to survive and thrive. Its impact on potato crops depends largely on soil conditions at, and soon after, planting. Cool, wet soils typical of this time of year can often result in significant economic damage. The thing to remember with this disease is that complete
control is not possible, however the severity of the pathogen can be limited to a relatively small impact with best practice management. Read article on p36 of the June/July issue of Potatoes Australia

Australian experts underscore importance of certified potato seed for black leg disease control

Related imageAround the world, blackleg of potato is caused by several species of bacteria that can be carried and transmitted through seed tubers. Potatoes Australia spoke to Agriculture Victoria Research Scientist Dr Rachel Mann and ViCSPA General Manager Dr Nigel Crump about the identification and management of the blackleg disease. The main causal agent of blackleg in Australia is Pectobacterium atrosepticum although another bacterium known as Dickeya dianthicola was discovered in Western Australia in 2017. Dr Rachel Mann has been assisting with the traceback of the disease. “Blackleg is something that people can readily identify in the field, although it is not possible to determine which bacteria is causing it,” Dr Mann said. Seed tubers are the most important source of inoculum in the blackleg disease cycle. Therefore, management of the disease largely relies on the use of certified seed. “Due to the use of clean seed, blackleg is not very prevalent in Australia,” said Dr Nigel Crumm. Read full article on p20 of the June/July issue of Potatoes Australia

McCain NZ pilot programme puts the power into potatoes

Image result for Pilot programme in Timaru puts the power into potatoesThe humble potato is in for a shocking multi-million dollar makeover in New Zealand. An industry pilot programme worth almost $16.8 million, is being trialled at McCain Foods in Washdyke, Timaru, in what has been described as “electrocuting potatoes“. The three month test of the new Pulsed Electric Field Technology (PEF) machine, from Germany, began in Timaru on Wednesday and involves industrial-scale food processing of the popular french fry. The machine uses a brief electric pulse to modify and disrupt the membranes of cells in plant or animal material. The aim is to produce healthier fries as the potatoes absorb less oil during the cooking process after having the PEF treatment. The electric field being pulsed through uncut potatoes during processing alters their microstructure, which results in a more controlled release of sugar, more uniform coloration and reduced oil uptake. Read more

‘Electrocuted’: Pilot programme in New Zealand puts the power into potatoes

The Pulsed Electric Field Technology (PEF) machine on display at McCain Foods in Washdyke.The humble potato is in for a shocking multi-million dollar South Canterbury makeover. An industry pilot programme, part of the Ministry for Business and Innovation funded Food Industry Enabling Technology (FIET) programme worth almost $16.8 million, is being trialled at McCain Foods in Washdyke, Timaru, in what has been described as “electrocuting potatoes”. The three month test of the new Pulsed Electric Field Technology (PEF) machine from Germany, began in Timaru on Wednesday and involves industrial-scale food processing of the popular french fry. The machine uses a brief electric pulse to modify and disrupt the membranes of cells in plant or animal material. Otago University researchers are leading the pilot trial on potato processing – with initial research showing promising results for minimising waste through having fewer broken chips during processing.  Continue reading

Underhanded down under? Australian wholesaler accused of ‘unfair’ potato contracts

Related imageAustralia’s largest potato wholesaler, Mitolo, is facing legal action after being accused of entering into unfair contracts with its potato farmer suppliers. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on Tuesday said it had started Federal Court proceedings against the South Australian-based company – the first legal action taken under the recently introduced Horticulture Code. Mitolo, a major supplier to Woolworths and Coles, is facing allegations of unfair contract terms including signing exclusive supply contracts that allow it to vary prices unilaterally and prevent farmers from selling to other buyers. ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said Mitolo’s exclusive contracts also did not specificy how and when the price of potatoes would be determined. “These are some of the most egregious terms we have seen in agricultural contracts, and are key examples of the contracting practices in the sector that we want to address,” Mr Keogh said. Read more

Let’s automate, mate: South Australian potato company partners with automation specialists to bring field to fork

Related imageThe South Australian Potato Company, founded by the Raschella family in that region, has been supplying potatoes for “every recipe, every occasion and every season for more than 20 years,” they say. Dealing with more than 60, 000 tons of potatoes annually obviously requires quality automation by reliable suppliers to ensure always-on productivity and extreme care with this wholesome produce. When looking to kit out its factory – which does everything from washing and sorting to weighing and packaging potatoes – The South Australian Potato Company eventually looked to SMC as its preferred supplier. Jay Dawson, maintenance manager for the company says: “In selecting the perfect automation partner we look to deciding factors such as an excellent, broad product range, superior technical expertise, a factory maintenance plan, a reputable brand that aligns with ours and a company that is innovative and keeps up with the trends. SMC fitted the bill to the tee.” Read more

Low-carb gold: ‘Lotatoes Potatoes’ campaign the winner of PMA Australia-New Zealand award

Related imageProduce Plus and PMA Australia-New Zealand are pleased to announce the T&G Global Marketing Team as the winner of the Marketer of the Year Award 2018 for the ‘Lotatoes Potatoes’ campaign. The New Zealand-headquartered company was presented with Australasia’s premier marketing award for the fresh fruit, vegetable and floral industries at the Hort Connections conference and trade show in Brisbane. The presentation took place during the event’s Gala Dinner on Wednesday, 20 June. The Lotatoes Potatoes campaign centred around the launch of a new low-carb and low-calorie potato variety. Having observed a consumer trend moving away from high-carbohydrate options among health-conscious consumers in New Zealand, T&G Global specifically sought the low-carb potato variety from its breeding partners. Extensive testing against two of New Zealand’s most common varieties (Rua and Agria) found Lotatoes to be a unique 40 per cent lower carbohydrate product that met the functional and health needs of its target audience. Read more

Western Australia releases latest update on presence of tomato potato psyllid

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Western Australia (DPIRD WA) has released the latest industry update on the presence of the tomato potato psyllid (TPP) in the state. This update, which is available in English or Vietnamese, contains information on a range of related areas, including the wind-up of the transition to management phase for the response, a snapshot of results from TPP research and development, and reminders about pre-harvest control options and the Quarantine Area currently in place in Western Australia. The TPP research and development profiled in this latest industry update includes laboratory trials on insecticides; laboratory trials on biological control agents (BCAs); glasshouse trials on the efficacy of insecticides with BCAs against TPP in capsicum, tomato and potato; and laboratory trials on post-harvest disinfestation. There continues to be no detection of Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum (CLso) in Australia to date. Read more

Chasing after psyllids: Tasmanian tomato potato psyllid research used across Australia

FLYING UNDER THE RADAR: Tomato potato psyllid. Picture: Western Australia Primary Industries and Regional Development departmentTomato potato psyllid is considered a serious threat to Tasmania’s potato, tomato and capsicum crops, with research conducted by the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture used to manage the pest around the country. Tasmanian researchers have conducted a tomato potato psyllid surveillance program in commercial potato crops since 2011. The project, which is funded by North-West Tasmania potato processors Simplot, McCain and Smiths as well as Horticulture Innovation Australia, became even more relevant when tomato potato psyllid was discovered in Western Australia last year. Its proximity to New Zealand makes Tasmania a potential location for psyllid migration, AUSVEG Tomato Potato Psyllid program coordinator Alan Nankivell said. The institute’s tomato potato psyllid research involved placing 2,300 yellow sticky traps in potato crops across Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia since the program started. To date Tasmania has been declared free of tomato potato psyllid. Read more

Rather safe than sorry: Aussies to release Potato Growers’ Biosecurity Manual

The Potato Growers’ Biosecurity Manual is a guide to farm biosecurity measures to reduce the risk of weeds, pests, and diseases impacting production. It was developed by Plant Health Australia (PHA) with consultation from AUSVEG and potato growers across NSW, Victoria and South Australia. The manual is designed for use by potato growers and their staff, as well as contractors, processors, researchers, and consultants working in the potato industry. It gives specific advice on what potato producers need to be aware of, and what measures they should be taking on their farm to reduce biosecurity risks. A broader explanation of Australia’s biosecurity system including pre-border, at-the-border and post-border biosecurity procedures is also provided in the manual. The manual will be released with the upcoming edition of Potatoes Australia magazine. Further information