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

Washington Potato Commission exec: ‘We’re out of acres’

“We just don’t have any room for any more potatoes,” Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington Potato Commission, says.Washington potato exports continue to grow each year but not as fast as those of competing countries, said Chris Voigt, executive director of the state’s Potato Commission. Potatoes from the European Union have cut into Washington potatoes’ market share on the Pacific Rim, Voigt said. “We’re starting to see a lot of European french fries showing up in Japan, China and places where we normally didn’t run across as much of them,” he said. “We’re actually hoping there’s a way we can grow or plant more potatoes here in Washington, because we know there is demand in the Pacific Rim, but we’re out of acres,” Voigt said. “We just don’t have any room for any more potatoes.” The only way to increase exports is to cost-effectively bring more water to dryland production areas, or somehow increase yields, Voigt said. “We’re trying to work on both of those,” he said. Read more

The Canadian way: More than 100 volunteers help in harvest after Saskatchewan farmer’s death

It was a day that Jeff Brown will never forget. On Sunday, 20 combines and drivers, along with around 100 spectators and volunteers, joined forces to harvest Brian Williams’ crop of durum wheat in the province of Saskatchewan. Williams died on Friday, right as harvest was getting underway. “We were hoping to get six or eight combines,” said Brown, a family friend and organizer. “Next thing I know, we were telling guys, ‘No, don’t come.’ It just snowballed.” When neighbours heard Williams was in the hospital, they immediately offered their help during harvest but the family held off. After his death, the family relented. “They knew everybody was busy, and had their own stuff to do, and they kept putting us off,” said Brown. “Finally, they said if a few of you want to come together, go tackle a field or two.” Brown said he has never seen such a coordinated effort as the 20 combines harvested the section of land (258 hectares) in a matter of hours. The combines drove in a v-formation, headed up by Williams’ beloved Case IH harvesters.  Read more and watch video

Smoke, heat knock Washington State potato crop down to average

Potato harvest in Washington state. Yield and quality look promising, but smoke and heat slowed growth, potato industry leaders say.   Heat and smoke have hindered Washington’s potato crop, industry leaders say. The early part of the crop had been slightly above average in quality and yield, said Dale Lathin, executive director of the Potato Growers of Washington. Smoke from wildfires became more dense, interfering with the potato plants’ photosynthesis, Lathim said. “Basically it did nothing this week in terms of growth,” Lathim said. “The guys had to turn off their water because the plants just weren’t taking it up because they weren’t photosynthesizing.” During field samples two weeks ago, Lathim said, the crop looked well-above average for yield and quality. Last week, samples showed closer to average because of heat and he expects even lower this week. “By the time we get to harvest, we’re still going to be above average, but not by much,” he said. “But the quality should be very good. We’re going to have a very manageable crop. Nothing bountiful, but very good quality, manageable size crop.” Read more

Canadian farmers caught up in fight over chemicals

It’s fair to say that Canadian farmers are feeling a little shell-shocked after not one, but two, decisions in the space of one week that could fundamentally change their access to chemical control. First was the California jury’s decision to award US$289 million to a man dying of cancer after deciding his exposure to the commonly used herbicide glyphosate contributed to his condition and that product labels did not adequately warn him of the risk. The second was a decision announced this week by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, a division of Health Canada, to phase out neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides widely used in canola, corn, soybeans and horticultural crops. These insecticides first came under scrutiny because of their link to unusually high losses of bees and other pollinators. But it is their impact on aquatic insects that are critical food sources to fish, birds and other animals that led to the decisions announced this week. Reaction from the Canadian farm community is a mix of incredulity and outrage. Read more

University aims to strengthen Canadian potato industry

The University of Lethbridge is opening its potato research lab doors to partners and local producers.It’s an industry that professionals say injects more than $1 billion into Canada’s Alberta province’s economy each year. “The potato industry in this province is not just in southern Alberta, but province-wide,” said Terence Hochstein, executive director with the Potato Growers of Alberta. “We have about 55,000 acres of production within this province, making us one of the largest growing areas in Canada.” Hoping to expand on that market, the University of Lethbridge in Alberta has opened the doors to its Potato Research Lab on Friday, which showcases the work being done to support producers when growing the tasty spuds. “It’s a program that has been 10 years in the works,” Hochstein said. “It’s between the industry, the Potato Growers, Cavendish Farms, Lamb Weston, McCain and the university. It’s a collaborative project to create a first-of-its kind program in Canada, specifically focusing on potato research.” Read more

PAA Honorary Lifetime Member ‘put his heart into spud research’

SteveLoveIt’s been 13 years since Steve Love was involved in potato research and development but his effect has not been forgotten. During last month’s Potato Association of America banquet in Boise, Love, a professor of plant sciences at the University of Idaho’s Aberdeen Research and Extension Center, was recognized with the PAA’s Honorary Lifetime Membership for his work in potato research. These days Love is Idaho’s consumer horticulturist specialist helping develop the native plant program at the Aberdeen center. For 20 years he led the UI’s potato variety development program at Aberdeen. During that time Love and the close-knit team of researchers in the Tri-State program were responsible for 12 new varieties, including the Ranger Russet, currently the third most widely grown potato variety in the United States. Love said that receiving the PAA’s Honorary Lifetime Membership was a great honor. Read more

Tobacco rattle virus in potato explained

Photo, S.K.R. Yellareddygari, NDSUCorky ring spot is becoming more economically important across several potato production regions in the U.S. largely due to the spread of tobacco rattle virus (TRV) and because of restrictions on the use of current chemical control options. Potato specialists at NDSU/University of Minnesota recently published a factsheet explaining the influence of TRV on potato production. They note that tobacco rattle virus incidence has been reported in potato production areas in California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin. The virus has a broad host range, including potato, tobacco, corn, barley, sunflower, ornamental (tulip, iris, etc.) and a variety of weed hosts. The virus is transmitted in the field by soil-inhabiting stubby root nematodes of the genera Trichodorus and Paratrichodorus. Nematicides, soil fumigation and resistant cultivars can be used for nematode management. Detecting and quantifying viruliferous nematodes is important for making planting decisions and management approaches. Read more

Does glyphosate cause cancer?

Image result for roundupPosted on A year in the Life of a Farmer: “Glyphosate and cancer. This is something we are hearing so much about, seemingly all of the sudden, with major stories breaking in the last week. Just last Friday, a court case in California resulted in a $289 million dollar payment to a man named Dewayne Johnson, who claimed his years of using glyphosate (also known as Roundup) caused him to develop cancer. A few days before this story broke, glyphosate use was suspended by a judge in Brazil pending a government reevaluation of its toxicity. What is going on here? I am a farmer who uses glyphosate. My dad started using it decades ago, and it has absolutely been the single greatest invention in agricultural history. And it is unequivocally, fantastically safe. It is one of the lowest toxicity herbicides we use on our farm. It is less toxic than alcohol. Less toxic than caffeine. So what is all this about?” Read more

Understanding soil microbes could boost potato yields

Soil is sometimes considered the last knowledge frontier because so little is known about the microbial and fungal communities that live within it. What we do know is that in just a small handful of dirt live thousands upon thousands of microorganisms, some helpful to plant production, some not. Soil health and crop production go hand in hand, which is why scientists, like Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) Claudia Goyer, are working hard to better understand it. Her work on soil microbes using next generation sequencing could help potato growers increase production. Goyer, a noted soil scientist and potato researcher, has been using next generation sequencing to better understand microbial and fungal communities in soil. In the first of two projects, she looked at how different potato cultivars impacted bacterial communities and pathogens, like common scab. Read more

New President at the Potato Association of America

Image result for rich novy potatoFor four days, beginning on Sunday, July 22, more than 300 people, from 16 countries came to the Boise for the 102nd annual meeting of the Potato Association of America (PAA). Shelley Jansky, 2017-2018 PAA president and a research scientist with the USDA-ARS and horticulture professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said that attendance was so good that they had to close registration because they couldn’t accommodate any more people. Succeeding Jansky as PAA president was Rich Novy, USDA-ARS research geneticist at the Aberdeen, Idaho facility. Novy said that he wants to continue the PAA’s role continuing to develop collaboration among researchers and the industry and encourage young researchers to stay involved in the potato industry during his one-year term as president.  Continue reading

Trade dispute: China retaliates with tariffs on fries and dehy

Image result for national potato councilThe escalating trade war between the U.S. and China increased further as both sides recently announced new multi-billion tariffs on a host of goods. As expected, China included U.S. fries and dehy on their announced retaliation list. The new tariffs are 10% on fries and 25% on dehy. “We’re monitoring this situation in coordination with U.S. trade officials. Our message to all parties has not changed. They need to settle these issues at the negotiating table urgently, as the negative economic impacts of these tariffs will only increase over time,” said John Keeling, NPC CEO. The implementation date for these tariffs is currently unknown and contingent upon the U.S. taking firm action following the announcement of increased tariffs against Chinese exports. (Source: Potato Bytes / National Potato Council)

The glyphosate saga: $289 million Roundup cancer verdict sends Bayer shares reeling

Roundup products are seen for sale at a hardware store in San Rafael, California, on July, 9, 2018Bayer shares plunged on Monday, losing about $14 billion in value, after newly acquired Monsanto was ordered to pay $289 million in damages in the first of possibly thousands of U.S. lawsuits over alleged links between a weedkiller and cancer. After the verdict in favor of a California school groundskeeper with terminal cancer, Monsanto faces more than 5,000 similar lawsuits across the United States over claims it did not warn of the cancer risks of glyphosate-based weedkillers, including its Roundup brand. But the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to insist that glyphosate is safe when used carefully. Bayer shares were down 11.2 percent, the worst performing stock on the Stoxx Europe 600 index, and on track to close at their lowest in almost five years. Barclays analysts said Bayer was in for a “litigious headache”.  Continue reading

Seed export woes: Major British seed potato market could be killed off with no-deal Brexit

A letter circulated to industry stakeholders signed jointly by Defra and Scottish Government has made it clear that exports to EU countries would stop immediately with a no-deal Brexit. It says bluntly: “The European Commission has stated that without an agreement seed potatoes will not be marketable in the EU.” Annual seed potato exports from Scotland are normally stated as totaling between 70,000 and 80,000 tonnes but critically that does not include the 25,000 to 30,000 tonnes which goes to EU countries with Spain and Ireland the major customers. To add salt to the wounds of Scottish producers it seems that there are no plans to restrict the flow in the opposite direction. The seed potato sector may have well justified fears over Brexit but leaving the EU could open up opportunities for the potato industry as a whole according to David Swales of AHDB. Read Farmers Guardian article