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
Tomato 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
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
A research project in New Zealand is determining if different field soils affect development of powdery scab on potatoes, and whether soil physical, chemical and/or biological characteristics influence this important potato disease. The project is developing new knowledge that may provide a basis for manipulating soil factors to reduce the harmful effects of the powdery scab pathogen. A cross-discipline team is working in the project, including plant pathologists, soil scientists and molecular biologists. In the study’s first phase, 12 field soils (including the soil from the 10-year Pukekohe trial site) have been evaluated for disease “conduciveness”, and their physical, chemical and biological characteristics are being determined. Data gathered from these different analyses will be integrated to determine if individual or combinations of soil physical, chemical or biological characteristics are associated with suppression of Spongospora diseases. Information about the project is available from research lead, Prof Richard Falloon, at Richard.Falloon@plantandfood.co.nz. Further details can be found on this page of the Potatoes NZ website.
The newest frozen chip range (frozen french fries) now launched by McCain Foods Australia – Shake Shake – takes hot potato chips from the side of the plate to the centre of attention, with seasonings never before seen in the frozen chip aisle. According to Simone Formisano, McCain Foods Product Manager, “snack-based dinners that can be enjoyed on the couch or shared around the coffee table are trending, so we wanted to create an easy-to-prepare and shareable product that promotes a social and stress-free eating experience with family and friends. We know that 95 per cent of frozen potato products are currently consumed side of plate as part of a main meal. We wanted to focus our newest release on making hot chips the hero of any meal rather than an add-on. Our Shake Shake varieties are flavours that Australians know and love. McCain wants to ‘shake’ things up with a product that takes centre stage!” (Source: McCain Foods Australia)
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development in West Australia has wrapped up autumn surveillance for the tomato potato psyllid (TPP), with no detections of a damaging plant bacteria associated with the pest. Department acting horticulture director Rohan Prince said it marked completion of the third surveillance round in WA since the pest insect was detected in Perth in February last year. TPP is a tiny sap-sucking insect that affects a range of plants including tomato, potato, capsicum, chilli, eggplant and tamarillo. The detection of TPP has impacted on trade of a range of host plants and produce to other states, in particular potatoes which have been unable to enter these markets. This has been due to concerns about the status of the damaging plant bacteria Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum (CLso), which can be associated with this pest in other parts of the world. More
Scott 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
Just a month into harvest and Australia’s biggest potato seed producer, Agronico, is reaping the benefits of recent investments through a 30 per cent increase in productivity. Agronico has invested heavily in its business over the past 12 months through its new coolstore at Spreyton and adding a four-row planter, canopied hoppers and twin-row harvesters to its fleet, chief executive Robert Graham said. “In the first three weeks 4,000 tonnes of seed potato were harvested with minimum downtime from rain, productivity has increased each year, but this is the best result so far,” he said. “At each stage of the process our efficiency is improving; harvest is quicker because of a combination of factors.” Agronico will continue to invest in infrastructure to support its capabilities. (Source: The Advocate)
A Yarloop potato grower in Australia says a $150,000 State Government grant for a custom-built washing/grading/packaging line will benefit the South West industry in that country. Fox Farms Pty Ltd owner Patrick Fox said his company had identified an opportunity overseas in Singapore and the Middle East to supply premium washed and brushed potatoes. “We are hoping that will relieve some of the pressure on the local market here at the moment as prices are at the lowest they have ever been,” he said. “We already currently export around three-and-a-half thousand tonne of seed potatoes and fresh processing potatoes. Mr Fox said he hoped the first shipment of washed potatoes would leave in August. “By the end of next year we expect to be exporting around 5000 tonne of fresh, washed potatoes,” he said. More
Agronomy service provider and aspiring agribusiness CropLogic has made a rather big splash in the Australian market, by acquiring privately-held company Ag Logic. CropLogic has just recently embarked on a value-accretive acquisition strategy aimed at absorbing productive agriculture technology businesses. Last year, CropLogic acquired US-based Professional Ag Services in order to gain access to approximately 60,000 acres or 30% of the potato market in Washington State, USA. Having completed its US deal last year, CropLogic quickly turned to Australia as its next port of call. CropLogic says that by replicating its market strategy in Tasmania, the company hopes to create similar operational efficiencies and generate similar commercial returns later this year. Tasmania’s potato yield per hectare is currently 31% above the national average and accounts for 76% of Australia’s total potato production each year. More
West Australia’s struggling potato industry is poised for recovery after the State Government chipped in nearly $750,000 towards expanding processing and exports. Four local growers and potato export and processing businesses will receive the money under the Potato Industry Assistance Grants program. Total private investment planned across these four projects is about $2.58 million. Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said most of the projects would source potatoes from other growers, meaning growth in these businesses would have wider benefits. WA Potato Growers Association chief executive Simon Moltoni said demand for WA potatoes would rise by tens of thousands of tonnes. WA growers produce about 85,000 tonnes a year, most for the fresh market, about a quarter of which is processed, exported or used for seed. More
The Australian potato industry continues to be at the forefront of innovative research, with world-leading production practices resulting in increased efficiency and profitability on-farm. The high quality of Australian potato produce is made possible by ongoing investment in research and development, and this is once again highlighted in the latest edition of the publication “Grower Success Stories: Real results from the potato R&D levy.” In this edition, published by Horticulture Innovation Australia and AUSVEG, you will find examples of growers who have enjoyed real benefits and success as a result of their involvement in strategic levy investment projects under the Hort Innovation Fresh Potato and Potato Processing Funds. Read how grower John Jackson tapped into international expertise to combat the tomato potato psyllid (TPP) problem. Tasmanian seed potato grower Andrew Wilson is using a DNA-based soil testing service that helps growers with paddock and disease management planning. It has given him the confidence and peace of mind to manage existing crops and plan for future growth. It has not only identified potential disease borne soil, but allowed Andrew to switch potato varieties better suited to his soil. Continue reading
The transformation of food waste with limited value to a premium product with high value is on the agenda through a project being undertaken by Potatoes South Australia, the University of Adelaide and Adelaide Hills Distillery. While potatoes are traditionally used to make vodka in many parts of the world, these three organisations are partnering to look into the feasibility of making vodka from potato skins – helping to increase returns for growers on what would otherwise be waste product. The University of Adelaide is undertaking research into the most effective technique to create vodka from peel, taking advantage of its extensive capabilities in analytical chemistry, wine science and sensory science, and starch profiling. This is being paired with the expertise of Adelaide Hills Distillery to turn it into beverage spirit. To read more about this project and the new value-adding opportunities it’s uncovering for potatoes, have a look at the February/March 2018 edition of Potatoes Australia magazine (page 18 of the online version). This article appeared in the AUSVEG Weekly Update published 20 March 2018.
Potato farmers in West Australia (WA) could see Eastern States’ markets reopen in the near future which are still closed to WA following the tomato potato psyllid outbreak last year. Potato Growers Association of WA chief executive officer Simon Moltoni said the potato industry and State Government were working through the Transition to Management Plan, with the aim to reopen market access. “We still haven’t regained market access to the East coast,” Mr Moltoni said. “That’s been a major issue to our growers. During spring the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development undertook testing of psyllids, looking for the bacteria, Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum, which causes the damage to the crops. Mr Moltoni said those tests came back negative and if the autumn round of testing this March returned the same result, discussions could begin to reopen interstate markets. More
In the latest Strategic Update report issued by Potatoes New Zealand, CEO Chris Claridge writes that the 2017 calendar year values and volumes are now available and the news is very positive. “Our total industry value to Dec 2017 including domestic retail sales, food service such as restaurants takeaway chips and exports, is closing on a Billion dollars per annum,” Claridge says. He notes that Potatoes New Zealand has two important key strategic goals which they are endeavouring to achieve by 2025, namely to double the value of fresh and processed New Zealand based exports by 2025, and to enhance the value of the domestic market by 50% by 2025. “In summary, when tracking performance at December 2017 we are well on track to achieve these goals,” Claridge says. Based on the levy received, the 2013 farm gate value was estimated at $103 million. The 2017 estimated farm gate value is now at a $170 million, showing an increase of 65%. “Evidence that increased market value is being returned at the farm gate,” says Claridge. Full report