Potato power: London marathon runner smashes Guinness World Record running as Mr Potato Head

A Borders runner has smashed a marathon world record dressed as Mr Potato Head. Gala Harrier Bob Johnson completed the London race in a time of 4:59.30 at the weekend – peeling 30 seconds off the Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon dressed as a three-dimensional toy. Bob was raising money for the humanitarian charity Afghanaid. This was Bob’s second attempt. Last year he completed the marathon in the costume just 19 minutes over the five hour record. As the costume was solid with very little ventilation, Bob had to endure difficult conditions as temperatures in London soared to a marathon record high of 23.2 degrees centigrade. During his challenging attempt, Bob tweeted: “I’m a baked potato with extra blood, sweat and tears!” With limited space to move and with only an inch gap to see out of, water and energy gels had to be passed up from his knees.  More

Hi-tech: New imaging technology to spot diseases and infestations at an earlier stage

The expected benefits of adopting the equipment could have a significant impact on overall crop yieldA new type of imaging system for use in agriculture, designed to be far less expensive than existing technology and to increase crop yield, is being developed in the UK. Academics and the farming industry have teamed up to develop a new type of hyperspectral imaging (HSI) system. The UK government-funded collaboration has the potential to introduce an affordable spectral imaging technology to help agricultural businesses monitor and maximise crop production in fields and greenhouses. The sensors in development are expected to be up to 90% cheaper than equivalent equipment currently on the market. It is anticipated that adopting the technology will allow farmers to monitor various crop attributes including plant health, hydration levels and disease indicators. As a result, it is envisaged that farmers will be able to: optimise the impact of fertilisation; save water by employing more efficient irrigation methods; and, critically, spot diseases and infestations at an earlier stage, allowing them to avoid blights. Report by FarmingUK

Report: ‘5.4 billion UK meal occasions features fresh potatoes eaten at home; 2.8 billion featuring frozen potato products’

Image result for british potatoesAHDB Potatoes in the UK recently published its latest annual Market Intelligence Report. In this highly informative report, it is noted that the GB market is increasingly influenced by the European potato market. Volatility in potato supply and prices, due to issues such as weather, means that imported European product plays a part in the GB market. In 2016/17, of non-EU countries, the UK imported the majority of fresh potatoes from Israel and processed potato products from Canada, South Africa and the USA. For non-EU exports, the UK continued to export the largest amount of seed potatoes to Egypt, fresh potatoes to Norway and processed potatoes to Nigeria in the 2016/17 season. According to the report, AHDB conducts a consumer tracker with YouGov to monitor attitudes toward potatoes on a six-monthly basis. The most recent findings of this survey show that 76% of consumers eat potatoes on a weekly basis and when asked, 71% of people surveyed said they considered potatoes to be healthy.  Continue reading

Late planting: ‘Patience now can result in better potato yields,’ experts in Great Britain say

Image result for potato planting wet soilAfter watching it rain for six weeks, as your expected planting dates disappear behind you, it can be tempting to jump on the planter at the first break in the weather. Patience and risk mitigation now, can help prevent poor results come harvest – says AHDB’s Claire Hodge.​ The key message is not to panic, waiting a few days and planting in the right conditions is often better than ‘losing’ a couple of days growing time. In an article published today on the website of AHDB Potatoes, some of the key risks associated with the timing of planting are described, highlighting some resources available to potato growers in Great Britain to help manage these risks. Planting in wet conditions can lead to yield losses larger than that you would experience from delayed planting, Mark Stalham of NIAB CUF says. “Serious yield loss due to late planting only really starts occurring after 7 May in England for a Group 3 determinancy variety. With longer daylight hours in Scotland, this may even be a few days later. The risks are associated with delayed emergence and the crop not reaching full cover by the longest day of the year.” More

New potato variety said to have higher proportion of nutritious “slow” carbohydrates

Image result for Mistra Biotech potatoA research group at Mistra Biotech has recently made a major breakthrough: they have developed a new potato variety with a higher proportion of nutritious “slow” carbohydrates. “This is wonderful news. This potato, with its higher content of resistant starch, has many good health characteristics,” says Xue Zhao, a PhD student researching vegetable food at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Uppsala. The new potato was developed by a group of plant breeders in Mistra Biotech, headed by Mariette Andersson. This potato’s main characteristic is its relatively high content of “resistant starch” —starch that behaves like fiber; that is, instead of being absorbed by the small intestine, it enters the large intestine undigested. This confers numerous positive health effects. For example, it reduces glucose levels and insulin reactions; optimizes bacterial flora in the gut and gives a good boost to processes in the stomach; and can also facilitate weight loss. More

British potato growers can now sign up for new BlightCast alert service

Image result for blightcastPotato farmers in the UK can now sign up for the new BlightCast service to receive advance warning of Blight in their area via a five-day email report. With the Syngenta BlightCast agronomy tool, potato growers and agronomists will be better prepared to cope with more aggressive blight strains this season. It includes two prediction models: one for conventional Smith Periods and a forecast using the Hutton Criteria proposed to model strains of blight capable of developing at shorter periods of 90% relative humidity. BlightCast uses local weather forecasts and sophisticated disease modelling algorithms to predict blight risk for up to five days ahead – enabling growers and agronomists to plan strategies more effectively. Visit this page for details

Lamb Weston raised its annual outlook for 2018 sales growth

Related imageLamb Weston Holdings, Inc. announced its third quarter 2018 results and updated its outlook for fiscal 2018 in a public press release issued last week. The company says net sales increased 12% to $863 million during third quarter 2018, while income from operations increased 17% to $169 million; and Adjusted Income from Operations increased 14% to $171 million. Net sales is expected to increase at upper end of mid-single digits range in fiscal 2018, up from a previous estimate of mid-single digits. “Our strong top- and bottom-line performance in the third quarter reflects the benefits of our capital expansion investments, our focus on delivering industry-leading customer service and our commitment to operational excellence,” said Tom Werner, President and CEO.  Continue reading

Focus on healthy soils: The value of cover crops for soil health

During the recent Hutchinsons Alnwick Farmer Conference in the UK, the value of cover crops was on the agenda. Agronomist Alice Cannon presented on what cover crops can do for your soil. In a very informative and practical demonstration, Alice presented on the benefits and agronomic features of how the right cover crop can help you manage soil issues and improve the soil’s structure greatly. She discussed the value of 6 different cover crops. Watch the video of her presentation. Read more about Hutchinsons focus on Healthy Soils and the impact it can have on crop performance.

TNA inaugurates new potato processing equipment facility in the Netherlands

TNA inaugurates new potato processing facilityTNA has officially opened a brand new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in the Netherlands, further reinforcing its position as a leading manufacturer of food processing equipment for the potato and vegetable processing industries. Located in Woerden, 30 kilometres outside of Amsterdam, TNA Netherlands Manufacturing will be dedicated to TNA’s cutting edge processing equipment, including its range of fryers and freezers, but also pre-processing equipment such as peelers, washers and dryers. The facility will also incorporate an expanded ‘Food Technology Testing Centre, ’ which will show clients how TNA’s food processing equipment operates in a fully-operational factory setting. With a total area of 3,600 m2, the new facility will allow TNA to increase its production capacities to better respond to the growing demand for its wide range of solutions. More

‘Potatoes in Practice’ event in the UK coming up

Image result for potatoes in practicePotatoes in Practice (PiP) is the largest field-based potato event in the UK. Every year the event brings together variety demonstrations, research and trade exhibits in one place, making it an essential date in the potato industry calendar. In the field, you’ll find commercial breeders showcasing the latest varieties, agronomists demonstrating what’s new in crop protection and researchers discussing their most recent findings, all on hand to share their knowledge and give advice. Indoors, you’ll find a range of exhibitors from agricultural advisors and scientific researchers to processors and technology companies. There will also be a series of technical seminars open to all attendees complementing the research demonstrations. And of course, no field event would be complete without machinery – both moving and static. This year the event will take place on Thursday 9 August 2018 at James Hutton Institute’s Balruddery Farm. Exhibitors are encouraged to book space in good time. More

Not snake oil any longer: The case of new generation nitrogen products for potatoes

Some experts say nitrogen is the most used but least understood input on potato crops. Novel forms of fertiliser have often been dismissed as snake oil, but now a new generation of products have been developed, created by scientists and led by the physiology of the potato crop. From a scientific point of view, fertiliser technology is still very much in its infancy. The forms currently widely used today have been adopted because they’re easy to source in large quantities. They’ve been designed by chemists rather than biologists and haven’t had the crop’s physiology in mind. As a result, fertiliser uptake by plants is an inefficient process, with rates of recovery for nitrogen fertilisers in the region of 25-35%. But the tide is turning. Fertiliser technologies are now being developed that are physiologically-led and underpinned by sound, peer-reviewed scientific research. Dr David Marks, managing director of Levity Crop Science, explains why these products are better and can help achieve a higher marketable yield of potatoes. Read this in-depth article on the CPM website

EuroBlight report: New emerging blight clones continue rapid spread across Europe

Image result for potato late blightEuroBlight is continuously examining the ongoing evolution of the European population of the potato late blight pathogen and now reports on the 2017 results. Almost 1500 samples were genotyped from 16 countries last growing season. In its latest report, EuroBlight concludes that three new clones (EU_36_A2, EU_37_A2 and EU_41) continue to spread in 2017 and are displacing other populations. Around 75% of the samples belonged to defined clonal lineages also observed in previous seasons. Some clones are widespread and have been present in Europe for more than a decade, but the three emerging clones increased their combined frequency from 10% in 2016 to 28% of the population in 2017. The EuroBlight model of pathogen tracking is a rapid, cost-effective and co-ordinated approach to understanding pathogen evolution on a European scale. Data on the dominant clones has been passed to growers, advisors, breeders and agrochemical companies to provide practical management advice and shape longer-term strategies. More

East Anglian potato growers face ‘very difficult’ spring as wet weather takes its toll

Andrew Francis with a previous potato harvest from the Elveden Estate. Picture: SONYA DUNCANElveden Estate’s senior farms manager Andrew Francis admits it has been a “very difficult” spring. “Even on the lighter soils the constant wet weather and generally cool and overcast conditions have had a big impact,” said Andrew, whose operation near Thetford is taking part in an important potato growing project, as levy payers’ group AHDB’s Strategic Potato (or SPot) East Farm. “We are about seven to 10 days behind with our potato planting. This may have a significant impact on early season crop yield as our customers will still require crops for their factories by a certain date,” he said. “One of our battles has been unpredictable or vague weather forecasts,” he said. Andrew Blenkiron, estate director at the Euston Estate, near Thetford, said: “Even on our very light land it’s not going well, so it must be a nightmare on anything else. Beet and spuds are only about one third planted. More

Calcium prevents a wide range of tuber quality problems

Are your potatoes getting enough calcium?Calcium deficiency is widely known as internal rust spot – a physiological internal defect in which small brown spots, due to cell death, appear in the tuber. This is directly related to a lack of calcium within the cell walls, meaning that they aren’t strong enough and when cell expansion takes place they collapse and necrosis occurs. Once calcium is incorporated into cell walls it can’t be redistributed therefore it is important to have a sufficient supply as new cells develop. Therefore a sufficient supply will help ensure the skin has a good finish as well as helping against physical damage which can occur during harvesting and handling. Finally it can also help prevent bacterial diseases affecting the tubers. Stronger skins means less damage; which helps decrease bacterial infection through the broken surface. It’s not only the timing of calcium that needs to be right , but also the source of calcium that is being applied. More

New greenhouse complex inaugurated at Agrico Research breeding station

Potato Cooperative Agrico inaugurated its new greenhouse complex at the Agrico Research breeding station in the Netherlands last Friday, April 6. This was followed by an Open Day on Saturday at the research station. During the past 18 months, the greenhouse complex at Agrico Research has been expanded and completely renovated. The area under glass has doubled in size. Investments have also been made in the latest technology to enable more cross breeding so that new varieties can be bred more efficiently and effectively. The Agrico cooperative was founded 45 years ago on 2 April 1973. Said Managing Director Jan van Hoogen:“The extended facilities equip us for the long-term so we can breed the ideal, strong varieties of the future. There is huge demand for our varieties globally, and that is set to rise in the years ahead. The world’s population is growing and potatoes are the most nutritious crop that can be cultivated under the most sustainable conditions.” (Source: Agrico)