Welsh potato growers unite to tackle wireworm

Image result for wireworm potatoOver 40 potato growers and agronomists met at AHDB Potatoes’ Welsh Potato Day near Haverfordwest on 2 February to exchange technical knowledge aimed at producing the perfect crop. Pembrokeshire is renowned nationally for producing high-quality potatoes using an eco-friendly farming system, where potatoes are usually grown in rotation with grassland. This method has many benefits including maintaining healthy and nutritious soil, but the grassland is attractive to wireworm, a pest that causes damage to potato crops. Wireworms, the larvae of click beetles (Elateridae), live for several years in the soil, and can drill deep holes into potato tubers. Left untreated, this can leave a potato crop completely unsaleable resulting in big losses for the grower. Puffin Produce, a Pembrokeshire potato company, has helped sponsor a PhD student at Swansea University to conduct research on managing the pest. Ben Clunie addressed the event on the various biological ways of tackling wireworm that he has studied during his first year. These include using natural enemies such as fungi and nematodes, essential oils and pheromone trapsDownload the full presentations from the event here

UK: Albert Bartlett is raising money to help vulnerable people

Eat potatoes to reduce povertyBritish potato suppliers Albert Bartlett have signed up to Sport Relief by pledging to donate 5p for every promotional bag of Rooster potatoes sold. [Sport Relief is a biennial charity event from Comic Relief, in association with BBC Sport, which brings together the worlds of sport and entertainment to raise money to help vulnerable people in both the UK and the world’s poorest countries.] The company said they were creating a number of sporting initiatives and campaigns to encourage its consumers and staff to get involved with Sport Relief, which runs from 17 – 23 March. Albert Bartlett head of marketing Michael Jarvis said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Sport Relief and helping its work both to improve the lives of people in the UK and internationally and in getting the nation off the couch.” More

Upcoming potato Conference in Canada to focus on several production issues

The 2018 Ontario Potato Conference & Trade Show in Canada will be held on March 6 at the Delta Hotel and Conference Center in Guelph. Several topics related to potato production issues important to growers will be on the agenda, and attendees will be addressed by several experts in Canada, the US as well as the United Kingdom. Some of the topics include seed performance, late blight fungicides, latest on blackleg research, common scab control, Zebra chip, and Dicamba drift ( said to be a new danger for potato growers). The full programme is available on this page, and online registration can be completed here. Further information is available from conference organizer, Dr Eugenia Banks: eugeniabanks@onpotato.ca

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

‘Potato industry needs to present itself more confidently to consumers’, attendees at German event were told

On 6 February, the German Potato Trade Association welcomed around 500 guests from 16 countries to the traditional International Berlin Potato Evening. In his opening speech, DKHV President Thomas Herkenrath called for more attention to discussions on food and agriculture. “Potatoes are an important staple food and can best meet the high ethical demands of consumers and their desire for a healthy diet in cultivation, processing and distribution. The potato industry only has to present itself more self-confidently to the public in order to be perceived more positively by the consumer. This means listening carefully and analyzing the worries, fears and needs of our customers.” The new President of the World Potato Congress, Romain Cools, also addressed attendees. 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

US: International Crop Expo returns

The International Crop Expo began 17 years ago and the event returns Feb. 21-22 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. Roughly 4,000 people and 170 exhibitors are expected to attend. It begins at 9 a.m. both days and ends at 5 p.m Feb. 21 and 4 p.m. Feb. 22. Admission and parking are free. “We think there’s a lot of good speakers and good information again this year,” said Lionel Olson, an agronomist with Integrated Ag Services in Northwood, N.D. who has helped to manage the show for many years. The Crop Expo — created by the combination of events hosted individually by small grains, potato and soybean groups after the Alerus Center opened — will again host educational sessions geared specifically to spuds, small grains and soybeans/dry beans. More

US: Potatoes, politics kick off conference

A year after predicting how the new Trump Administration might affect agriculture, National Potato Council Executive Vice President John Keeling was back to give an update on politics and agriculture during the first day of the 2018 Southern Rocky Mountain Agricultural Conference and Trade Fair on Tuesday in Monte Vista. Keeling said he had anticipated that President Donald Trump might act differently once he was in office, but he said on Tuesday, “I haven’t seen anything different. He is who he is.” The subject of trade is “very confusing and uncertain,” Keeling said. Talks are ongoing to renegotiate NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), Keeling said, but the atmosphere around the re-negotiations is “difficult or confusing at best”. Keeling also talked about the progress of expanding potato exports in Mexico. He said in the last 10 days he met with three undersecretaries with USDA who are continuing to push Mexico to take the steps they need to open the market back up again. More

Spud growers turn out for 2018 Potato Production Days in Canada

This year’s Potato Production Days saw a range of speakers from 
emerging technology to resistance and regulatory issues. Resistance issues, management strategies and pathogens both new and old. Just a few of the issues that had potato growers’ attention at the 2018 Potato Production Days Jan. 23-25 at Brandon’s Keystone Centre in Canada’s Manitoba province. This year’s speakers tackled disease and damage diagnosis, drones, seed and vine management, weeds and rapidly rising concern over resistance, both in fungicide for early blight and Colorado potato beetle. The pest has been on the rise in recent years, according to Dr. Tracy Shinners-Carnelley of Peak of the Market. Fungicides are facing similar resistance problems, Dr. Neil Gudmestad told the room Jan. 24. The North Dakota State University professor noted a once rare, but increasing mutation in early blight with a high resistance to boscalid, the active ingredient in several common fungicides. More

Presentation: ‘The weird and wild world of physiological disorders’

Robinson photoThis presentation by Dr Andy Robinson at North Dakota State University (NDSU) shows many physiological disorders of potatoes. These disorders can cause minor or major losses in tuber quality. They can be difficult to identify and replicate. This presentation was given at the recent 2018 Manitoba Potato Production Days meeting in Brandon, Canada. Dr Robinson is Extension Agronomist and Assistant Professor at NDSU. Dr. Robinson’s areas of responsibility are in Extension and research for potato production in North Dakota and Minnesota. View the presentation as pdf file

US: Webinar – Crop Nutrition for Quality Potato Production

Header ImageJoin Agronomist Steve Petrie and Jimmy Ridgway, Crop Manager-Potatoes Yara North America, for this free webinar as they share insights from extensive crop nutrition research and trials that Spudman magazine partner YARA has conducted. They’ll discuss technology, tools and services to help you grow your best crop yet. Jimmy Ridgway has worked in the crop nutrition business in retail, wholesale and manufacturer representation since 1984. Dr. Petrie has been Director of Agronomic Services for Yara in the western US since 2013 where he continues to conduct field research & promote the sound use of Yara products to increase crop yields and grower profitability while protecting the environment. More information and registration details for this webinar on Tuesday, February 13, 2018

US company sees ‘solid interest’ in organic express-bake potato

Image result for express bake potatohFarm Fresh Direct featured its organic “Express Bake PotatOH!” at the inaugural Global Organic Produce Expo Jan. 27, which is presented by The Packer and parent company Farm Journal.. The Monte Vista, Colo.-based company actually launched the product a couple of years ago, but the market was not quite ready, said Lonnie Gillespie, director of organic sales and marketing. With its re-release in September, however, there has been solid interest. “There’s some real positive feedback on them,” Gillespie said. “Everyone wants organic and convenience, and that’s both.” The potato is pre-washed and can be cooked in its wrap in a microwave in 6-7 minutes, according to its label. Farm Fresh Direct also spoke with expo attendees about its value proposition. “Customers are able to fill trucks with organics and conventionals and specialties out of the same area, so it’s a huge cost advantage,” said vice president Dave Yeager.