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

Canadian breeder brought botanical potato seed to China for variety now worth billions in benefits

Junhong Qin, Research Assistant, CIP, surveys a local potato farmer.In the mid 1980’s, potato breeder and grower Peter VanderZaag, based in Ontario, Canada brought the botanical seed of the Cooperation-88 (C88) potato variety to Yunnan province in China. The C88 variety developed from that seed eventually became one of the most important potato varieties in Asia and it ended up being grown on 1 million acres (200,000 ha) of land annually. The estimated present value of benefits from planting C88 in Yunnan ranges from a low of US$ 2.84 billion to a high of US$ 3.73 billion. In a recent report published by the CGIAR, the impacts of this variety, developed by CIP in partnership with Chinese researchers, is assessed. It is said that tremendous benefits have been generated by the variety – and are still accruing. Starting in the mid-1980s, in response to the devastating effects of late blight, the International Potato Center (CIP) and Yunnan Normal University collaborated to develop the Cooperation-88 (C88) as a late blight resistant variety. C88 was officially released in 2001 and quickly became popular. Its success was attributed to its high yield, high quality, and good taste, in addition to late blight resistance. Read full report

Canadian scientist to identify traits that will help potatoes face impacts of climate change

Dr. Keshav Dahal, a crop stress physiologist who joined Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Research and Development Centre in Fredericton, New Brunswick during summer 2017, is helping unlock how some plants sense and react to stress more effectively than others. He is also using physiological, biochemical and molecular techniques to determine how stress impacts a crop plant’s productivity and quality. “Climate change poses a major challenge to growth and yield of key crop species in several regions of Canada,” he notes. “I’m currently focusing on potatoes, but I am interested in studying wheat, rye and canola in the future.” Dahal says the impacts of climate change have already been felt by Canadian crop farmers. As a cool season crop, potatoes are considered to be sensitive to hot weather as well as drought, Dahal explains. When asked if there one “tolerance” aspect that Dahal considers more important than others in the face of climate change, he identifies drought tolerance first and then heat tolerance. 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)

Potato farm with Michigan roots reaching across continents

Image result for Potato Farm With Northern Michigan Roots Reaching Across ContinentsSixty percent of the potato chips made in the United States come from potatoes grown in Northern Michigan. It all starts at the Sklarczyk Seed Potato Farm, located in Michigan. “The greenhouse operation is something my father started in the early 80’s and my father grew up on the diversified farming operation and he was looking for a way to make a batter potato and that led him to the tissue culture lab and the greenhouse operation and it’s grown and evolved from there,” said CEO of Sklarczyk Seed Farm, Ben Sklarczyk. Once the Sklarczyk family perfected the potato – it was time to perfect the technology they use. “Now our facility is 100% hydroponics so we are growing our potatoes without the presence of soil,” he explained. It allows them to check in on the potatoes regularly since they’re not buried in the soil. “The process starts with the tissue culture lab on the cutting process and at that point we will get plants from different plant breeders from different universities throughout the United States,” he said. Read report and watch video

Researchers from the US, Indonesia and Bangladesh creating GMO potato to fight late blight

Image result for potato late blightResearchers from the U.S., Indonesia and Bangladesh is creating a genetically-engineered potato to fight the late blight. The disease remains an issue for farmers worldwide, especially in Bangladesh, where many struggle with hunger. “Late blight is the number one constraint for potato production, and Bangladesh has a perfect environment for this disease,” said Jim Bradeen, co-director of the University’s Stakman-Borlaug Center and a scientific advisor for the project. The United States Agency for International Development’s Feed the Future partnership, led by Michigan State University, is a collaboration between the University of Minnesota and the University of Idaho, along with the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute and the J.R. Simplot Company. The researchers are working to implement durable disease resistance in potatoes using three disease-resistant genes, Bradeen said. Since the pathogen that causes late blight disease can evolve and become resistant to the genes designed to protect the crop, researchers hope using three genes will be an adequate defense. They hope to introduce the potato in Bangladesh in the next six months to a year. More

This nutritive ‘golden potato’ is the latest GMO superfood

Image result for yellow flesh potatoSufferers of malnutrition in the global south could soon find help from an unlikely source: a humble potato, genetically tweaked to provide substantial doses of vitamins A and E, both crucial nutrients for health. Dubbed the “golden potato,” boosted levels of provitamin A carotenoids are converted into vitamin A by digestive enzymes when eaten. The potato was genetically engineered in Italy using a technique called biofortification. It was created in a lab in Italy and studied at Ohio State University, is the most recent staple crop to be genetically transformed into a colorful superfood, joining such creations as antioxidant-rich purple rice and beta-carotene-enhanced golden rice. Continue reading

Seeds of Change: True potato seed trialled in Bangladesh

Image result for true potato seedThe production of potatoes from “true potato seed” (TPS) is being trialled in Nilphamari, Bangladesh. This method involves allowing potato plants to mature until they produce male and female flowers. With cross-pollination the plants then bear a greenish fruit about the size of a small tomato. The fruit are full of seeds. These “true seeds” can later be planted to establish another potato crop. The main advantage of producing true seeds is easy storage. True potato seed can be stored securely and simply, in an airtight glass jar. According to Ataur Rahman, the assistant director of the Domar Foundation farm where the Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation sponsored trial is underway, “only 600 grams of seeds are needed to sow an acre and produce a 4.5 tonne yield. To achieve 3.5 tonnes of potatoes per acre using tubers, around 720 kilograms of potato tubers would be required at the outset. Thus the true seed method is significantly more practical at the planting stage, and also produces a better harvest.” More

Canadian breeders developed Colorado potato beetle resistant varieties – after 30 years of trials

 A Colorado potato beetle feeds on potato leaves. (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada photo) It’s taken almost 30 years, but Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) scientists have finally won a monumental battle against the Colorado potato beetle (CPB). Dr. Benoit Bizimungu and Agnes Murphy, potato breeding research scientists at the Fredericton Research and Development Centre, recently developed two selections that are resistant to the major insect pest. Both varieties are available for industry to use in other trials as part of an accelerated potato variety release program. The new resistant varieties were developed as a team effort. Research scientist Dr. Helen Tai is part of the team. While she played an important role in the process, Tai said, “I stand on the shoulder of giants.” Tai stressed that traditional methods were used in all the breeding programs. “There are no GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in the potato breeding program at AAFC,” Tai says. She said the new varieties can be used in conjunction with integrated pest management. More

Playing it cool: University of Idaho installs a CoolBot to avoid fallout with nuclear potatoes

“Would you like fries with that?” Yes, of course you would. And chances are that those fries came from the pre-nuclear seed potatoes grown in the University of Idaho’s greenhouses. The University of Idaho’s Nuclear Seed Potato Program is extremely important to Idaho and the Pacific Northwest potato industry. The University of Idaho’s Nuclear Seed Potato Program is made up of an on-campus lab and greenhouse on the University’s farm, where plants are grown in gallon pots. Here, the University maintains germplasms of over three hundred potato varieties, from Purple Pelissa and Magic Molly to Nooksack and Heirloom, plus a bunch of really old strains and some of the newest cutting edge varieties. Storing the University of Idaho’s nuclear seed potatoes is complicated. They need to be kept cold for an extended period of time at 39°F with about 95% relative humidity — which is a challenging climate to maintain. The University of Idaho recently purchased a 6×6 CoolBot unit from Store-It-Cold to solve their problem in this regard. More

‘Rooted apical cuttings’: Promising technology with potential to boost quality potato seed production

Seed potato farmers in Kenya’s potato growing regions are adopting promising technology with potential to boost quality seed availability. The farmers are using rooted apical cuttings as starter material for seed production as opposed to certified seed. The cuttings technology has been introduced in Kenya by the International Potato Center (CIP) under a programme funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). A cutting is similar to a nursery-grown seedling, except that it is produced through vegetative means and does not originate from a seed. Cuttings are produced from tissue culture plantlets in the screen house, rather than minitubers, and after rooting, are planted in the field. Each cutting produces 7 to 10, and up to 15+ tubers which are multiplied a further season or two, then the harvest is used and/or sold as seed. This means that the seed that farmers buy is equivalent to basic or ‘certified one’ seed in seed certification systems, and will produce high yielding crops. Currently the technology targets seed multipliers, but expanding to ware farmers. Continue reading

Germicopa expects big growth in potato seed sales

Florimond Desprez, the general director of potato seed and breeding company Germicopa, expects that the company’s seed sales will grow in the near future to reach 80,000 tonnes by 2020/21, up from 63,000 tonnes last year. Germicopa is established in Bretagne, France and part of the Florimond Desprez Group. According to Florimond Desprez, “Traditionally, Germicopa focused on salad potatoes. Examples of this are Charlotte, Chérie and Amandine. Now we are also turning to other markets and developing potato varieties not only for the fresh market but also for industrial processing. Daisy is used to make French fries and Amyla is well developed on the starch market, notably in France where it is the number one variety.” During the Fruit Logistica, Germicopa put their organic varieties in the spotlight. Germicopa seed potatoes are produced by its own network of producers (c.180 growers in France). The company markets seed in 70 countries. More

Agrico presents its next generation of potato varieties

Agrico was exhibiting at Fruit Logistica in Berlin from Wednesday 7 to Friday 9 February 2018. During this leading international trade fair, Agrico, together with its subsidiaries, showed its future orientated growth power. Many years of intensive breeding efforts have resulted in Agrico being the first company to offer a complete package of phytophthora resistant varieties, the company says in a press release. In addition to their extremely high resistance to late blight these varieties offer outstanding consumption traits and good yields. This package allows Agrico to offer its customers a sustainable and diverse range with a variety of flavours, appearances and processing options. The package of varieties with high phytophthora resistance consists of Carolus, Alouette, Twinner, Twister, the recently introduced variety Levante and the new starch variety Nofy. Press release

GMO potato can help Bangladeshi farmers cut pesticide use

Bangladesh is the world’s seventh-largest producer of potatoes. Most of the crop is grown by small-holder farmers. To help small-holder farmers, the Feed the Future Biotechnology Potato Partnership based at Michigan State University in the US, is using the tools of biotechnology to develop a genetically engineered potato resistant to late blight disease. The Partnership will develop and bring to market a three-R gene late blight resistant potato to smallholder farmers in Bangladesh and Indonesia. By growing a disease-resistant variety, farmers will be able to reduce their use of fungicides and improve their yields, which means more money in their pockets at harvest time. Small-holder farmers anticipate better harvests with LBD-resistant potatoes. Agriculture minister Matia Chowdhury recently reaffirmed the government’s support for genetically engineered (GMO) crop technologies to ensure sufficient food for the people of Bangladesh. More

New Canadian potato varieties ‘could improve taste of french fries’, breeder says

Potato growers and industry in Canada gathered at the Fredericton Research and Development Centre for the Potato Selection Release Open House on Wednesday to learn about what new varieties are available for trial that could improve yields and taste — including a new variety that could improve the taste of French fries. The annual potato selection event was hosted by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and gave potato producers the chance to learn about 15 new selections of what researchers are calling “promising potatoes.”  The new varieties include five French fry potatoes, two types of spuds for those in the potato chip sector, six fresh market selections, and two potatoes with coloured flesh.  Continue reading