Applied Research: Ground-penetrating radar could help producers dig potatoes early

Dr. Dirk Hays, plant geneticist, is using ground-penetrating radar to test for early maturing potato varieties. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter)

Ground-penetrating radar might help the potato industry save water, according to Dr. Dirk Hays, Texas A&M AgriLife Research plant geneticist in the soil and crop sciences department at College Station. Hays’ latest project utilizes ground-penetrating radar to select early maturing potato cultivars, which can help producers make harvest decisions and increase water-use efficiency. His project is in coordination with AgriLife Research and the department of horticultural sciences potato breeding program conducted by breeders Dr. Creighton Miller and Dr. Isabel Vales, both at College Station. “We know radar will work on potatoes,” Hays said. “Radar works on detecting objects that are denser than the soil environment they are in. Potatoes are very moist versus the sandy soils they are grown in, so it’s relatively easy to image the potatoes with the ground-penetrating radar.”  Continue reading

Scotland: China invests £3m for new potato research lab in collaboration with James Hutton Institute

The announcement of £3 million towards a new international laboratory for scientists from Dundee and China underlines Scotland’s global reputation for potato research at the Potatoes in Practice (PiP) event. The Chinese Government and leading potato processing company,  Xisen Potato Group have committed the funds to a collaboration with James Hutton Limited (JHL) to breed new varieties and research resistance to pests and diseases, tuber storage and potato processing. The shared facility is likely to be located in China’s Shandong province. Continue reading

Onderzoeker veredelingsbedrijf Meijer: ‘De zoektocht naar de ideale aardappel is een soort Idols’

Een aardappel moet strenge tests doorstaan voor dat het een nieuw ras is (foto: Omroep Zeeland)

Een aardappel moet strenge tests doorstaan voor dat het een nieuw ras is (foto: Omroep Zeeland)

De zoektocht naar een aardappelras dat tegen extreme weersomstandigheden kan, zoals droogte, is selecteren, selecteren en nog eens selecteren. “Het is net Idols: je begint met duizenden kandidaten en daarvan valt meteen het grootste deel af. De honderden kandidaten die overblijven, worden verder getest en uiteindelijk kom je uit bij het ultieme ras”, legt Guus Heselmans uit. Hij is onderzoeker bij veredelingsbedrijf Meijer in Rilland. Dat onderzoeken gebeurt eerst in een kas, waar het zaadje ontkiemt, en daarna in het laboratorium. “Daar bekijken we het DNA om te zien of het de juiste eigenschappen heeft. Als dat zo is, komt het op een proefveld te staan.” Achter de kantoren van Meijer ligt een enorme lap grond. Daar worden duizenden plantjes getest. “We blijven altijd zoeken naar een stabiel ras dat tegen de extreme weersomstandigheden kan. Dat is een proces van zeven, acht, misschien wel negen jaar.” Meer 

Dutch organic sector unites against potato disease

On Tuesday morning, 25 Dutch organic potato breeders, growers, and big supermarket chains signed a unique agreement entitled “Expedited transition to more robust potato varieties”. With this agreement, the organic sector wants to find a sustainable solution for the devastating potato disease: Phytophthora. Bionext, the organic sector chain organisers took the initiative for this. The direct reason for the agreement is the large-scale damage this disease caused in 2016 to organically grown potatoes. Potatoes are prone to getting phytophthora and natural pesticides were found to be lacking. To speed up the process, the agreement partners have decided to give robust varieties preference in the breeding, growing and selling stages. In this way it will be possible to have 100% organic disease-resistant potatoes by 2020. More

Simplot: ‘154,000 fewer pesticide hectare-applications if all fresh potatoes in Canada had Innate® Generation 2 traits’

In a press release, the J.R. Simplot Company says Health Canada and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) have completed the food, feed, and environmental safety assessments of the J.R. Simplot Company’s second generation of Innate® potatoes. The authorizations enable the potatoes to be imported, planted, and sold in Canada, complementing the three varieties of Innate® first generation potatoes that received regulatory approval last year. research shows that Innate® second generation potatoes help reduce waste associated with bruise, blight, and storage losses by reducing waste at multiple stages of the value chain. According to academic estimates, if all fresh potatoes in Canada had Innate® Generation 2 traits, potato waste (in-field, during storage, packing, retail and foodservice for fresh potatoes) “could be reduced by 93 million kilograms. In addition, CO2 emissions could be reduced by 14 million kilograms, water usage reduced by 13 billion liters, and a total of 154,000 fewer pesticide hectare-applications would be needed,” Simplot says in its press release. 

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Canada: Parkland Potato Varieties to host open day in Alberta

Parkland Seed PotatoesParkland Potato Varieties will be hosting it’s annual open day at the Crop Diversification Centre South in Brooks, Alberta on August 18th from 10 am to 2 pm.  The company will be showcasing several varieties during the field day, including processing, main market whites and yellows, reds, creamers and chipping varieties. Although they continue to sell the standard open varieties, like Russets, Shepodies and Atlantics, Parkland is seeing a steady increased interest from growers in private varieties, in particular fresh market yellows. According to Kirby Sawatzky, Director of Parkland, new processing and chipping varieties have greater bruise resistance and can be stored for longer periods of time. Continue reading

NL: 25 partijen ondertekenen convenant voor meer ziekteresistente biologische aardappelrassen

Image result for BionextVanochtend, 8  augustus hebben 25 biologische aardappelveredelaars, aardappeltelers en grote supermarktketens het convenant ‘Versnelde transitie naar robuuste aardappelrassen’ ondertekend. Met dit convenant wil de biologische sector een duurzaam antwoord geven op de meest verwoestende aardappelziekte: Phytophthora. Bionext, ketenorganisatie voor de biologische sector, heeft hiervoor het initiatief genomen. Directe aanleiding voor het convenant is de grote schade die de aardappelziekte phytophthora in 2016 aanrichtte in de biologische aardappelteelt. Aardappels zijn gevoelig voor phytophthora en natuurlijke bestrijdingsmiddelen voor de schimmelziekte ontbreken. Om een nieuwe grote schade door phytophthora te voorkomen is een groei van het aandeel resistente rassen noodzakelijk. Om dit proces te versnellen, hebben de convenantpartners afgesproken deze robuuste rassen voorrang te geven: bij de productie van pootgoed, bij de teelt en in het winkelschap. Zo is het mogelijk om stapsgewijs op te schalen tot 100% aan robuuste biologische aardappels in 2020. Meer

Australia: Persistence pays off for Tasmanian seed-potato producer Agronico

Nothing happens quickly in the seed-potato business, but persistence has paid off for Agronico owner Julian Shaw. Mr Shaw, who describes himself as a mad scientist, started the business in 1985. Back then Agronico was focused more on production agronomy in crops such as onions but over time his interest in seed-potato production grew. Nowadays Agronico is one of the country’s biggest seed-potato producers – about 10,000 tonnes a year – and the only one using hydroponic mini tuber production. The company has 150 potato varieties in its collection and produces about 28 commercially. All the new varieties are imported as tissue cultures that must be grown out over about four generations before they can be used for commercial production. Hydroponic production allows the company to precisely control crop nutrition, producing evenly sized mini tubers and more of them. Ag Weekly report. Agronico was also in the news recently when they opened a new state of the art coolstore in Spreyton, Tasmania.

Canadian officials approve Simplot’s second generation GMO potatoes

Genetically Engineered Potatoes CanadaAssociated Press reports that three types of potatoes genetically engineered by J.R. Simplot to resist late blight are deemed safe for the environment and safe to eat, according to Canadian officials – who confirmed the approval of these potatoes on Thursday. The official approval by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency means the Simplot potatoes can be imported, planted and sold in Canada. The company said it received approval letters from Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in the last several days. Health Canada spokeswoman Renelle Briand confirmed the approvals to The Associated Press on Thursday. “We have no objection to the sale of food derived from J.R. Simplot Company’s” potatoes for human consumption, Karen McIntyre, director general of Health Canada, said in a letter sent on July 28 to the company. Canadian officials in two other letters sent on Monday approved the environmental release of planting the potatoes and using the potatoes for livestock feed. The three varieties of potato — the Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Atlantic — were approved by U.S. regulatory agencies in February. The company said the potatoes contain only potato genes and that the resistance to late blight comes from an Argentine variety of potato that naturally produced a defense.

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British potatoes put roots down in Africa

British potatoes put roots down in AfricaA potato seed trial in Kenya has passed initial tests and the plants are now growing well in three locations in the country. The trials are the result of a 2016 agreement between the Scottish and Kenyan governments to test 10 potato varieties expected to thrive in hot, dry conditions. These included four free varieties – Hermes, Atlantic, Cara and Russet Burbank – and six commercial varieties. The UK Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) hopes to reach the end of the trials and approvals, and open the market fully, by early 2018. According to SASA, once British varieties are approved in Kenya, it could open access to neighbouring markets. This would include the 19-country Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), of which Kenya is a member. More

Hi-tech production to fill demand for quality seed potatoes in India

.There is a huge shortage of certified seed in India. The incorporation of hi-tech seed production systems, coupled with advanced virus detection techniques is the only way out in fulfilling the huge demand for quality seed potatoes in the country. Keeping that in view, ICAR-CPRI, Shimla has standardized a number of high-tech seed production systems based on tissue culture and micropropagation technologies. The adoption of those systems of seed production will improve the quality of breeder seed, enhance seed multiplication rates and reduce field exposure of seed crops by at least 2 years. The systems were thoroughly tested at the seed production farm of ICAR-CPRI before passing them on to farmers and other stakeholders. The latest hi-tech seed production system, standardized by the institute, is based on the concept of soil-less, aeroponic technology. More

US: Two new Russet varieties to be released soon

Jeanne Debons, executive director of the Potato Variety Management Institute, with potato varieties under her organization’s management at the recent University of Idaho Potato Conference in Pocatello, Idaho. PVMI is releasing two new varieties — Castle Russet and Echo Russet.Two new spud varieties are coming soon to the Pacific Northwest. Echo Russet and Castle Russet — developed by the Tri-State Potato Breeding Program that includes Oregon, Washington and Idaho — are just about ready to be released commercially, according to Sagar Sathuvalli with Oregon State University. Sathuvalli, a potato breeder at OSU’s Hermiston Agricultural Research and Experiment Center, discussed the traits of each variety with local growers during the station’s annual potato field day Wednesday. Both varieties boast high yields and good cooking quality, and can be used either for french fries or fresh market. Echo Russet — named for the nearby town — and Castle Russet are about to cross that finish line. The Capital Press reports that the Potato Variety Management Institute, which handles licensing and royalties for Tri-State varieties, has decided to release the latest creations in December. In February, Capital Press reported that officials representing the Idaho, Oregon and Washington potato breeding programs say they’re releasing a pair of new russet varieties that should help position the industry to cope with more stringent regulations on soil fumigants. The new varieties are billed as medium- to late-maturing potatoes appropriate for use in both the fresh market and processing, also having good culinary qualities and cold sweetening resistance, so they fry with a light color even after months in storage. Read more

Researchers engineer heat tolerance in potato crops

Scientists at the James Hutton Institute and the University of St. Andrews have developed a technique to ‘engineer’ heat tolerance in potato crops, potentially providing potato breeders with a valuable tool in their quest to create varieties suited to the requirements of growers, industry and retailers. The potato crop is particularly vulnerable to increased temperature, which is considered to be the most important uncontrollable factor affecting growth and yield, according to the researchers. By comparing many different types of potato, scientists at the Institute have found a version of a gene involved in the heat stress response that is more active in potato types that can tolerant high temperature. The team went on to show that the switch that turns the protective gene on  is different in the heat tolerant types. More

Canada: 180 variétés de pommes de terre conservées à Fredericton

Banque de gènes des pommes de terreLa pomme de terre, ce tubercule abondamment consommé dans les provinces atlantiques bénéficie d’un statut particulier à Fredericton. La capitale néo-brunswickoise possède une banque mondiale de pommes de terre. Les petits plants et les tubercules sont conservés précieusement dans un environnement contrôlé, afin de garder ce patrimoine mondial de biodiversité. Tous ces tubercules sont préservés pour préserver la biodiversité, mais surtout pour protéger les pommes de terre des catastrophes naturelles. Les plants ou les tubercules sont conservés au Centre d’excellence du Canada en matière de recherches sur la pomme de terre de Fredericton et y sont présents en près de 200 variétés. Dans les réfrigérateurs on trouve des pommes de terre de type Batoche, Slovenian crescent et d’autres qui portent des noms qui rappellent les Maritimes. Rapport

UK: European agribusiness representatives visit Hutton Institute to establish potato links

German-Irish Chamber of Industry and Commerce visitors (c) James Hutton LtdJames Hutton Limited, the James Hutton Institute’s commercial subsidiary, has welcomed two delegations of European visitors to the Institute’s Dundee site as part of efforts to share knowledge and ideas with a huge variety of interest groups across the globe. A group of 20 visitors from the German-Irish Chamber of Industry and Commerce visited the Institute as part of a market research trip to investigate the potato supply chain in the UK and Ireland. After a brief introduction to the Institute’s work, the delegation visited the Commonwealth Potato Collection (CPC), the UK’s genebank of landrace and wild potatoes, which is held in trust at the Dundee site. Similarly, a group of 25 members of FIWAP, a non-profit organisation responsible for the promotion and improvement of potatoes and seed potatoes in the southern Belgian area of Wallonia, visited the Institute’s site in Dundee to gain a close understanding of the Scottish potato seed and exporting industries  Continue reading