Cool move: Albert Bartlett ventures into chilled potato market; set to open new production plant

Related imageAlbert Bartlett, based in Scotland, is venturing further into the prepared potato market with the development of several chilled potato products. Having already entered the frozen potato market in 2015, the potato supplier is now set to open a new chilled plant at the company headquarters in Airdrie in September. Creating 50 new jobs, the factory will have capability to process 50,000t of potatoes for sale at retail and foodservice. This equates to roughly a third of the current total prepared market. Albert Bartlett confirmed it had already won a three-year contract with one of the big four supermarkets for its new range, but preferred not to specify which. As well as buttery mash, the plant is likely to produce other dishes such as cheesy mash, root veg mash and Colcannon. Potatoes for the new products will be supplied by Albert Bartlett’s group of 85 growers, with producers in Scotland accounting for around 90 per cent of the potatoes used. The move represents a major development for the potato producer, which processes a fifth of the fresh potatoes sold in the UK. Read more

Upcoming AHDB Potatoes event to showcase newest post harvest and storage technologies

Image result for ahdb potatoes storageAHDB Potatoes and Agri-Tech East are are jointly hosting an event this coming Wednesday 20 June to showcase some of the newest technologies and innovations in post-harvest management and storage. The meeting will be hosted at the Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research, Lincs. From rapid refrigeration to seed cleaning, and from electronic noses to automated environmental control systems, good post-harvest management systems are vital to prevent deterioration and retain the value of the harvested crop. This event will explore new innovations being used to help maintain the quality and integrity of the crop post-harvest, for short and long-term storage. There is also the option for a tour of the facilities to see first-hand the research programmes underway at Sutton Bridge, and the chance to meet Laura Bouvet, our latest new recruit who is working jointly with Agri-Tech East and the AHDB. Presentations by Adrian Cunnington, Head of Crop Storage Research, AHDB; Ronnie Laing, Managing Director, Omnivent; Kees Wijngaarden, Area Sales Manager, Tolsma Storage and others. To register please contact information on this page

Plant disease diagnostic company expands into the US

Related imagePocket Diagnostic® announces the addition of another distributor of its plant disease rapid tests in the United States. Potadaho Seed Services (“Potadaho”) joins the Pocket Diagnostic distributor network having amassed a wealth of knowledge and experience working in the potato industry in the Pacific Northwest over many years. UK based Pocket Diagnostic plant disease tests have been benefiting the potato, horticulture and forestry industries for nearly twenty years. Pocket Diagnostic produces in-field results in a matter of minutes, which enables advisors, inspectors and growers alike to confirm the presence of a plant pathogen quickly, including Potato virus Y, Ralstonia solanacearum, and Phytophthora. Says Sales and Marketing Executive Malcolm Briggs: “We are pleased to add to our growing distributor network in North America. Last year we were delighted to announce our first partner in the States alongside the addition of a Canadian distributor. The addition of another distributor in this region further enhances our position in the plant health testing market.” Read more

Old foe, new offspring: What do we know about the new, emerging clones of Phytophthora Infestans in Europe?

In an insightful and important article published earlier this week on the EuroBlight website, late blight expert Dr Jens Gronbech Hansen in Denmark asks: What do we know at this time about the new clones of all potato growers’ arche enemy, Phytophthora Infestans? Hansen says that over the last five years EuroBlight has undertaken and coordinated an extensive survey of European populations of the late blight pathogen, P. infestans. The most recent data from the EuroBlight monitoring initiative highlighted the emergence of three new clonal lineages, named EU_36_A2, EU_37_A2 and EU_41_A2, in different parts of Europe. As ever, this raises the question of the epidemic potential of these newcomers, and of their impact on late blight management strategies. Are those strains more aggressive than other types? Are they less sensitive to fungicides? What cultivars are now under threat? Do I have to change my control strategy? These are the questions farmers and potato advisors are asking. Read the full article on the EuroBlight website

Kettle Foods to invest £2.7M in facility upgrades

Kettle Foods is to invest in Norwich siteKettle Foods, the crisp manufacturer, is to invest £2.7m at its Norwich site in the UK to develop a new potato intake building. The new project will see the relocation and upgrade of Kettle Foods’ entire potato reception process to a new building on spare land adjacent to the existing factory. This will mean that there will be almost no interruption to current manufacturing, the company said. The project will see the introduction of a new intake and grading building that includes a bulk trailer bay suitable for housing eight articulated potato trailers. New potato grading equipment will be installed to remove soil, stones and small potatoes, along with a barrel washing machine that cleans the potatoes delivered to site. Sampling and lab services will be conducted in the new building by a team from the Kettle Growers Group. This is the biggest investment since the site was expanded in 2011. The company has been processing potatoes in Norwich for 30 years and for 25 years at the current site in Bowthorpe. Read more

British expert provides timely advice on common scab control with irrigation

Related imageRecent dry weather in parts of the UK will mean that more and more growers will be thinking about irrigation, which is a vital time for common scab control. Dr Mark Stalham, Senior Scientist at NIAB CUF whose research, combined with demonstrations held at the Strategic Potato Farm network provided the most up-to-date guidance on common scab control, advises: “Despite late planting, emergence from late April and early May plantings has been rapid and has occurred over a very short period in 2018.  Tuber initiation will occur in most varieties 14-18 days after emergence and this is the key timing for scab control irrigation. We would estimate that soil moisture deficit (SMD) would be around 20-25mm at this stage of the season (15-18 mm in the ridge), unless irrigation has taken place”. Dr Stalham says well-timed and evenly distributed water applied at three- to seven-day intervals “is as beneficial to the crop as daily irrigation, and offers potential water savings and an effective control measure against common scab.” It’s also worth keeping an eye on the Environment Agency (EA) and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) websites for their regular water situation reports. Read more

Danish growers in the grip of severe drought; millions of Euros at stake

Danish news site ATL reports that Danish farmers are seriously affected by the ceaseless drought. If the drought lasts as long as in 1992, total losses could rise to millions of euros. Precipitation in Denmark is still a no-show, and many experts are already making comparisons with the extreme drought in 1992, when agricultural yields dropped by 23 per cent. According to regional newspaper Fyens from Funen, the drought affects growers of a variety of crops, including potatoes. For example, potato grower Johnny Larsen from Blemmemølle, on the isle of Bornholm, is very worried. He installed a pump that provides his thirsty potato plants with water, but that does require power, costing him unforeseen expenses. Chairperson Carl Heiselberg of industry organisation Danske Kartofler, reports potato growers throughout Denmark are faced with these problems. According to him, 80 to 90 per cent of the total potato area is not getting enough water. Read more

Blight programmes in sharp focus as British growers attempt to unlock yield potential

CPM finds out why potato experts are advocating robust blight programmes after challenging spring planting conditions. Later harvests in some key growing areas are being planned and every effort will be needed to maintain green leaf area to maximise yields where inclement weather delayed planting. At the time of writing it is estimated that as much as 10% of the UK crop is still not planted with storm-hit Midlands’ growers experiencing further setbacks after the bank holiday weekend rain. “It’s the most variable season I have seen in my career,” said one of the UK’s most respected potato advisors, independent agronomist Andy Alexander. “The key for every grower is to tackle blight and the main strategy must be to run a really robust protection programme. Growers need to use all the chemistry in the toolbox in the correct place at the right interval.” Some growers have made the UK’s first commercial applications of the brand new blight fungicide Zorvec Enicade in the past week. Read more

Untying the knots: Dutch researchers look at biocontrol of root knot nematodes by increasing soil disease suppressiveness

Related imageIn organic vegetable cultivation in the Netherlands, root knot nematodes are one of the major problems. According to scientists at Wageningen Plant Research, the problems with root knot nematodes is also increasing in other soil based cultivation systems. The numbers of available and effective chemical control products against soilborne diseases and pests are limited, though. In addition, the combination of different pathogens can be a problem in soil-based cultivation. The presence of root knot nematodes, for example, can increase the sensitivity to Verticillium and Fusarium. The researchers at Wageningen believe that disease suppressive soil might be a viable alternative. Disease suppression in soil is a result of various factors and therefore requires a system approach, they say. In addition, combining different measures can increase soil disease resilience through synergistic effect. A research project is currently underway looking into the possibility of increasing soil suppression against root knot nematode (Meloidogyne sp.), Pythium ultimum and Verticillium dahlia. Read more. Further information from Microbial Ecologist, dr. Marta Streminska.

Mission accomplished: Kiremko signs agreement with Indian potato fry processor

Image result for kiremkoDuring a recent Dutch trade mission to India, potato processing equipment manufacturer Kiremko signed a deal with Hyfun Foods, a potato processor headquartered in Mumbai, India. Dutch based Kiremko’s Director, Paul Oosterlaken, and the CEO of Hyfun Foods, Haresh Karamchandani, signed a contract for a potato fry line with a capacity of six tonnes of frozen french fries per hour. Accompanied by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Kiremko joined a delegation of 131 Dutch companies that visited Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore during the 4 day trade mission to India from May 22 to 25, 2018. Kiremko is fully dedicated to the potato processing industry, active worldwide with an exclusive network of local offices in Russia, India, China and exclusive agents elsewhere. Kiremko designs, manufactures and installs complete processing lines, factory upgrades and capacity expansions, as well as stand-alone equipment. The company recently produced developed a new corporate movie, showing details about the company’s activities – the movie can be viewed on YouTube. (Source: Kiremko)

Ditch the soil: British company claims 50 times higher potato yields with aeroponics technology

Hawk Energy, a knowledge-based business solutions provider based in Dubai with a research and development branch in London, has partnered with British start-up Airponix, which will harvest its first large crop of potatoes grown without soil, in a promising sign for a technology that claims it can deliver high vegetable yields with minimal costs and environmental degradation. At its new 1000 m2 greenhouse in Norfolk, Airponix has ditched soil to grow potatoes using a nutrient-rich ‘fog’ sprayed out of modified inkjet printers down long polythene tunnels of crops. Airponix, which won the Business Green Technology Awards and the Rushlight Award for its bio technology, states its growing technique can produce yields 50 times higher per hectare per year compared to commercial UK potato growers, while requiring no arable land and 85% less water than conventional agriculture. “The use of 85% less water to grow crops was one of the main factors that made us determined to introduce this pioneering technology to the Middle East Region where water for irrigation is scarce and very costly,” said Mohamad Al Shihabi, Founder of Hawk Energy. Read more

Media nonsense exposed: AHDB Potatoes busting myths on potatoes and health in mainstream media

Related imageAHDB Potatoes in the UK recently produced a document outlining the truth on the nutritional benefits of the potato. The aim was to ‘cut through the noise’ and ‘bust the myths’ on potatoes and health that appear in the mainstream media. Everything in the document is scientifcally proven, by sources such as nutrition bible McCance and Widdowson’s the Composition of Foods​, and Public Health England. AHDB Potatoes also created a bank of Twitter and Facebook graphics. Download the guide and graphics here, and promote the potato using statements approved by the EU, and Public Health England. Despite the simple truth about the health benefits of potatoes, consumers often feel confused about nutrition based on conflicting messages in the mainstream media. Much of this stems from the practice of taking isolated facts, out of context, to produce an attention grabbing headline. In June 2018, AHDB Potatoes made a statement on behalf of the industry, after a  misleading article in the Daily Mail. Read the full statement here. Confusion, when it comes to potatoes, often arises over the treatment of carbohydrates. An extract from the June 2018 statement addresses this… Read more

Bayer completes $63-billion Monsanto takeover; name to disappear forever

Related imageGerman chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer said Thursday its two-year pursuit of US-based Monsanto over, as the two firms signed off a $63-billion merger deal. “Shares in the US company will no longer be traded on the New York Stock Exchange, with Bayer now the sole owner of Monsanto Company,” the German firm said in a statement. In an industry preparing for a global population surge with billions more mouths to feed, Bayer was keen to get its hands on Monsanto’s market-leading line in GM crop seeds designed to resist strong pesticides. It was also lured by Monsanto’s data analytics business Climate Corp, believing farmers will in future rely on digital monitoring of their cropsContinue reading

‘Good potential market’: British seed potato growers look to Cuba to export

Britain is looked on favourably by the Cuban Government due to its high status and recognitionBritish seed potato producers are considering Cuba as an export destination after recent meetings with government officials in the country. While British producers are technically able to export to Cuba they have not been able to take advantage of this market due to a lack of awareness on how to get products into the country. However, fresh discussions have led to the development of a clear process for exporting product into Cuba. Presently, Cuba currently imports 17,000 tonnes of seed mainly from the Netherlands and France. Canada used to be a supplier but in recent years European sources have been preferred. According to Rob Burns, AHDB Heads of Crops Export, Britain is looked on favourably by the Cuban Government due to a high health status. If growers are interested in nominating crops for Cuban exports they are urged to compile a list to send to SASA by the end of June, and SASA will work with Cuba’s export company Alimport to identify Cuban companies looking for British seed. Read more

Innovative weed management: German companies Neudorff and Zasso create herbicide free solutions

Image result for zassoW. Neudorff GmbH KG and Zasso GmbH in Germany intensified their mutual technology cooperation and recently formed a joint venture. With the formation of this joint venture, both companies are breaking new ground in weed management. The joint venture is aimed at developing completely new methods and technologies for weed management without the use of herbicides. With the help of so-called electro-physical forces, both the shoot parts and the roots of weed plants are destroyed with Neudorff and Zasso’s new technology. This innovative and advanced technology will no doubt protect the environment and can therefore be applied in sensitive areas that until now have posed major challenges for effective weed management. Neudorff and Zasso’s approach opens up completely new possibilities for weed control.  Continue reading