Potato virus Y: Reasons why potato growers should pay attention to this serious disease

Related imagePotato virus Y (PVY) is one of the most common problems in potato fields, but can be hard to detect and some people do not recognize it when they see it. With plenty of other things to worry about, some growers may not consider PVY a serious threat and have not learned to recognize the symptoms. But this attitude is changing as more potato crops are impacted by the virus. PVY has been around a long time but only recently has become a serious problem for potato growers in North America. There are some reasons for this, according to American Vegetable Grower magazine columnist, Carrie Wohleb. She is Associate Professor/Regional Specialist – Potato, Vegetable, and Seed Crops, at Washington State University. In an article published last week, Wohleb discusses a range of important issues regarding PVY, including how growers and consultants can identify the presence of the disease in a timely fashion when scouting potato fields. Read the article

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

More than a mouthful: Doritos launches ‘world’s largest’ foot-long chips…

Doritois just launched the "world's largest" foot-long chips, available for a limited time.So much for snack-sized. Doritos is launching special foot-long Doritos, the biggest in the world, available for a limited time. The “Jurassic”-sized chips are part of a special collaboration with the upcoming dinosaur sequel, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.” In a special promo video advertising the colossal Doritos, Dr. Henry Wu (played by BD Wong) can be seen in the lab cooking up his latest creation by merging Doritos and dinosaur DNA. His assistant, meanwhile, can’t help but munch on the first successfully “hatched” chip. Anyone interested in adopting one of these monster creations, available in the classic Nacho Cheese flavor, can do so by tweeting Doritos with the hashtags #JurassicDoritos #entry or bid in an auction at JurassicDoritos.com until June 20, according to a press release. All proceeds from the auction will be donated to the American Red Cross for disaster relief efforts in Hawaii, where many scenes from the Jurassic films were shot. Doritos is an American brand of flavored tortilla chips produced since 1964 by Frito-Lay, a wholly owned subsidiary of PepsiCo. (Source: Fox News Life)

In the firing line: Trade war targets iconic Idaho potatoes

As the centerpiece of state’s agricultural industry, the Idaho potato is iconic. For many Americans, it’s Idaho’s only notable characteristic, a source of annoyance for locals and tourists who have plenty of reasons to love the Gem State. Whether or not one relishes Idaho’s reputation as the land of potatoes, the vegetable remains an important pillar of the state economy — a resilient export backed by proven quality and true marketing power. That reliability may be in question following a suite of tariffs imposed by Mexico in retaliation to President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Mexican steel and aluminum. Among the products targeted, which largely center on major exports from predominantly Republican states, are potatoes, which were hit with a 20-percent tariff. According to Idaho State Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Chanel Tewalt, those tariffs could put the Idaho potato’s quality and brand strength to the test. Read more

McCain trialing multi-species cover crop blend for rotation in Canada’s potato province

Soil organic matter (SOM) has become a popular topic of discussion in the past year in Canada. On Prince Edward Island, still Canada’s largest potato producing province, the issue of low SOM levels is also a concern. During the 2018 International Potato Technology Expo this past February, soil health was one of the topics for presentation and discussions, as much of a concern among industry stakeholders as it is for growers. One of the surprising sights at the 2018 Potato Expo was at the McCain booth, where attendees could view a slide presentation on the company’s introduction of a multi-species cover crop blend, with a bag of the seed mix on display. Bryce Drummond, territory manager with McCain Fertilizer, a division of McCain Produce, notes the soil organic matter issue has been developing for decades but that it’s become more serious in the past 10 to 15 years. In the past few years, McCain has come up with two blends of rotation crops to try and boost soil organic matter of potato fields on PEI, a one-year (annual) and a two-year. Read more

King of the vegetable tribe in the US: The Spud. Of course…

According to the USDA/ERS (Economicc Research Service) food availability data, Americans consumed an average of just over 156 pounds of fresh and processed vegetables per person in 2015. The loss-adjusted food availability data series takes per capita supplies of food available for human consumption and adjusts for some of the spoilage, plate waste, and other losses in restaurants, grocery stores, and the home to more closely approximate consumption. Potatoes claimed the #1 spot at nearly a third of the total – just more than 48 pounds per person. This includes both fresh potatoes and processed products (frozen, canned, and dehydrated potatoes and potato chips and shoestrings). Canned tomatoes are the leading canned vegetable, and total tomato consumption—fresh and canned—came in second at about 28 pounds per person. Fresh and dehydrated onions came in at a sad 7.7 pounds per person in 2015, with carrots, sweet corn, and romaine and leaf lettuce lagging behind to finish the list of America’s top seven vegetable choices. A chart was published in ERS’s Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials data product. High resolution chart. [Said someone at the water cooler: “Told ‘ya so…” – Editor, PNT]

Survival test: Gardeners in Newfoundland enlisted to put Chilean potato varieties through the hoops

Assistant manager Jackson McLean holds four red smile potato seeds in E.W. Gaze Seeds Co. in downtown St. John’s. The store is giving away red smile potato seeds to its customers to test.E.W. Gaze Seeds Co. in St Johns Newfoundland and Phytocultures Ltd. based in Prince Edward Island are working together to bring new types of potatoes to Newfoundland and Labrador from Chile in South America. E.W. Gaze Seeds Co. specializes in selling “high-quality vegetable and flower seeds,” according to the company’s website. Recently the store started giving away free samples of Chilean potato varieties (supplied by Phytocultures) to local gardeners who will plant the potatoes and see if they will grow well enough in the rather harsh local conditions. The sample potato seeds soon ran out due to eager demand. The new type of potatoes were developed by plant propagation specialist Don Northcott, who founded Phytocultures in 1986.  Continue reading

US and Indonesia sign market access agreement for US fresh potatoes

Related imageOn June 5, the United States and Indonesia reached a market access agreement that will allow U.S. fresh potatoes to be exported to Indonesia under a defined set of phytosanitary requirements. The agreement comes after four years of discussions and will include both U.S. chipping potatoes for further processing and table-stock potatoes for direct consumption. Potatoes produced in all U.S. states are included in the agreement. U.S. potato growers and exporters will need to follow the requirements in the protocol to ensure Indonesia’s quarantine security, according to a June 12 press release issued by Potatoes USA. This includes growing from certified seed potatoes, taking actions to address any potential pests of concern, and sprout inhibiting the potatoes prior to export. Importers in Indonesia will be required to obtain an import permit prior to export. Indonesia is a market of 261 million people and is the largest market in Southeast Asia to which U.S. fresh potatoes had not previously secured formal market access. Read more

‘Pretty, unique and tasty’: In northern Maine, a new spud rises

The University of Maine last month announced the release of the Pinto Gold, a new variety of gourmet potato developed by the school's potato breeding program.One thing you should know about Dr. Gregory Porter — the man behind the University of Maine’s well-regarded potato-breeding program — is that he is not just a researcher of potatoes, he is also a fan. “Oh, I love ’em,” Porter said last week, during a break from working the 35 acres of potato fields he oversees at the Aroostook Research Farm in Presque Isle, Maine. “I eat ’em all the time. Never get sick of ’em. I like ’em baked, like ’em roasted, like ’em scalloped…” He likes ’em so much, in fact, that — in a development that recently drew national notice — he went ahead and created a brand new one. Dubbed the Pinto Gold for its yellow flesh and distinctive patchy skin pattern, the gourmet specialty potato introduced last month by the university is said to be particularly good for roasting but versatile enough to be boiled, baked, pan-fried, or chopped up and tossed atop a salad. “Pretty, unique, and the tastiest roasting potatoes you could ever have,” is how Porter described them. Read more

Fries, mash, hash browns, chips, vodka, and now… The art show that’s all potatoes

Seongmin Ahn's "Multifaceted Potato" incorporates actual potatoes. Consider the humble potato. Linguistically, it’s often used to denigrate. Unimportant things are “small potatoes,” and we all try not to be “couch potatoes.” Nearly alone among vegetables, its nutritional value is questioned by some, making mashed potatoes and french fries something of a guilty pleasure. But to artist and professor Jeffrey Allen Price, potatoes transcend their homely image. Potatoes remain “humble, earthy, versatile, and healthy,” Price says. In fact, he might be the potato’s number one hype man. Price is the proud owner of 5,000 pieces of potato ephemera, from toys to books to snacks. He collects on behalf of his Think Potato Institute, which encompasses potato art, potato music, and potato events. Until June 15, 100 of his collectables will be on display at Stony Brook University’s Charles B. Wang Center in New York. At the exhibition—titled Potasia: Potatosism in the East—the potato is king. Each and every work incorporates potatoes, whether in paint, video, or actual embellished potatoes. Potasia is the sixth potato-themed art show that Price has curated. Read more

Luther Burbank: A tribute to America’s greatest horticulturist

Luther Burbank, at one of his experimental farms in 1901. Luther Burbank was America’s most legendary horticulturist. At the turn of the 20th century, he developed hundreds of new fruit, vegetable, and flower varieties, creating marvels such as the Shasta daisy and the Santa Rosa plum. If America had a national plant, it might be his russet Burbank potato, which alleviated the lingering effects of the Irish famine and makes up most of McDonald’s potato fries today. The media portrayed Burbank as a saintly, botanical wizard. For decades, thousands of people traveled to his Santa Rosa home, trying to catch a glimpse of him at work. Thomas Edison and Henry Ford sought his friendship, and after his death, both Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera painted him. Around his grave at the Luther Burbank Home and Gardens, the plants he pioneered are still growing, watched over by garden curator Rachel Spaeth. “A man can patent a mousetrap or copyright a nasty song,” Burbank once groused. “But if he gives to the world a new fruit that will add millions to the value of earth’s annual harvests, he will be fortunate if he is rewarded by so much as having his name connected with the result.” Read more

Allies in the skies: Drone industry launches into specialty agriculture market

In this well researched, in depth article on the current application of drones in agriculture, Stephen Kloosterman, Assistant Editor at Vegetable Growers News writes that drone scouts are poised to make precision agriculture even more exact as drone technology advances. Seventeen percent of all commercial registered drones in 2017 in the US were used for agriculture, making it the third-highest use for the machines. Specialty agriculture is a part of that precision agriculture market for drones. Aeronautics firms such as the French-based company Delair-Tech and the American defense drone contractor AeroVironment are marketing their integrated sensor agriculture drones to specialty crop producers. Academics, too, are studying drone uses for specialty crops. Making drone data and imagery relevant to growers’ management decisions is essential, Kloosterman writes. According to one specialist: “The market is increasing every year. There’s a lot of people getting more excited about incorporating imagery into their management decisions, so definitely there’s a lot of growth going on.” Read the full article

Breath of Life: How to optimize ventilation in potato storage facilities

Related image“Potatoes in storage are living. It is the job of the storage manager to ensure the crop sustains that life,” writes storage specialist Duane Gorman in the Potatoes in Canada magazine. He points out that after a final holding temperature is achieved in storage, it is important to ventilate properly in order to manage the byproducts of respiration, ensure a uniform temperature and an ideal environment for the duration of the storage period, which will maximize the value of the crop. Condition and end use of the crop, as well as the airflow capacity of the ventilation system are all factors that will lend to a ventilation schedule. Ventilation should be kept to a minimum as overventilation or recreational ventilation will cause unnecessary weight loss and increased power consumption. In addition to temperature, the second byproduct, carbon dioxide, must also be managed. Carbon dioxide is known to have a darkening effect on processed end products, such as chips and fries. Despite the temptation to overventilate, as a result of fear of condensation or hot spots, storage managers must take care to ventilate only as required. Read the full article

Pick-a-choose your Big Mac: Burger and fry chain to add more customer choice and variety

Love the sauce? Wait for it ...As McDonald’s seeks to modernize its business, the company is placing a big bet on mobile and other tech platforms, including mobile phones. McDonald’s has been systematically adding self-service ordering kiosks and table service to stores as it works to “build a better McDonald’s.” “What we’re finding is when people dwell more, they select more,” CEO Steve Easterbrook told CNBC on “Squawk on the Street” on Monday. In fact, the company plans to upgrade 1,000 stores with this technology every quarter for the next eight to nine quarters. International markets like Canada, Australia and the U.K. are already fully integrated with kiosk service and mobile ordering. “We’re introducing many options,” Esterbrook said. “Customers can order through mobile, they can come curbside and we’ll run it out as well as the existing traditional ways. You can pay in different ways and customize your food in different ways. I think we’re trying to add more choice and variety.” Read the full report on CNBC

Tit-for-tat: Mexico slaps 20 percent tax on US potatoes

Image result for What do Mexico's tariffs mean for Idaho potatoes and cheese? Maybe not too much.In response to President Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum from Mexico, the nation has slapped tariffs on several types of American produce, including a 20 percent tax on potatoes. But the head of the Idaho Potato Commission and the spokeswoman for a new Meridian-based dairy-marketing group say they aren’t worried. “We are going to weather this storm,” said Frank Muir, president and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission. Mexico is a major market for Idaho’s potatoes, specifically frozen ones. In 2016, a Mexican judge ruled that fresh American potatoes were allowed only 16 kilometers into the country’s border, citing concerns over pests and public health, Reuters wrote. Because of that, frozen potatoes make up a much greater number of what Mexico receives, according to Muir. Also, other countries around the world will keep buying Idaho’s frozen potatoes, Muir said. He also said Mexico is a big importer of frozen potato products, and that such a tariff will harm Mexican citizens more than anyone else. Read more. And more