Focus on healthy soils: The value of cover crops for soil health

During the recent Hutchinsons Alnwick Farmer Conference in the UK, the value of cover crops was on the agenda. Agronomist Alice Cannon presented on what cover crops can do for your soil. In a very informative and practical demonstration, Alice presented on the benefits and agronomic features of how the right cover crop can help you manage soil issues and improve the soil’s structure greatly. She discussed the value of 6 different cover crops. Watch the video of her presentation. Read more about Hutchinsons focus on Healthy Soils and the impact it can have on crop performance.

‘Potatoes in Practice’ event in the UK coming up

Image result for potatoes in practicePotatoes in Practice (PiP) is the largest field-based potato event in the UK. Every year the event brings together variety demonstrations, research and trade exhibits in one place, making it an essential date in the potato industry calendar. In the field, you’ll find commercial breeders showcasing the latest varieties, agronomists demonstrating what’s new in crop protection and researchers discussing their most recent findings, all on hand to share their knowledge and give advice. Indoors, you’ll find a range of exhibitors from agricultural advisors and scientific researchers to processors and technology companies. There will also be a series of technical seminars open to all attendees complementing the research demonstrations. And of course, no field event would be complete without machinery – both moving and static. This year the event will take place on Thursday 9 August 2018 at James Hutton Institute’s Balruddery Farm. Exhibitors are encouraged to book space in good time. More

Cornell potato virus Y Detection Training Workshops on again this year

Newer strains of potato virus Y spread by aphids cause damage to the flesh of the tubers. Photo courtesy Washington State UniversitySeveral newly evolved strains of the disease known as potato virus Y, or PVY, have emerged and are threatening the North American potato industry. These new strains can render potatoes unmarketable and reduce crop yield. What’s worse is the new viruses are particularly difficult to detect with the naked eye. Training workshops by Cornell College of Agriculture this year will cover field identification of PVY (strains O, N-Wi and NTN), including visual identification of foliar symptoms on 20 cultivars commonly grown in each region (NW, Mid-West and NE). Workshops will be hosted in Washington State, Wisconsin and Maine. A high attendance rate is expected because recent standardization of seed certification programs across the U.S. includes the requirement for documentation of inspector training. Continue reading

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)

Ireland ready to host World Potato Congress in 2021

Romain Cools, President and CEO of World Potato Congress Inc., Andy Doyle TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Dublin; Angus Wilson, Chairman Wilson's CountryThe Irish Potato Federation has won the bid to host the World Potato Congress (WPC) in 2021 in Dublin. The successful bid is the result of a lot of hard and will give the local potato sector its chance to take centre stage. The President of the Irish Potato Federation, Michael Hoey, said: “Winning the World Potato Congress for Ireland is the culmination of a lot of hard and creative work by a very dedicated committee and I know that the 2021 Congress will shine a spotlight on the importance of the potato in Ireland and across the globe and become a centrepiece of world-class marketing excellence.” It has also been confirmed that the potato sector in Northern Ireland will also play a role in part-hosting the event. It is envisaged that 1,000 delegates, from developing and developed countries across the globe, including growers, researchers, producers, traders, processors and manufacturers, will attend the Congress. More

Video: Highlights of the ‘2018 Potato D.C. Fly-In’ event hosted in Washington

Image result for 2018 Potato D.C. Fly-In national potato councilDuring February 26 – March 1, potato growers and industry partners took part in the annual Potato D.C. Fly-In event in a push to make a difference on issues affecting the potato industry. The Potato D.C. Fly-In is aimed at advocating for the industry in the center of the action, the nation’s Capital. The Fly-In features speakers from the political and policy arenas who address key issues facing the potato industry. More than a hundred participants met face-to-face during the 2018 Fly-In with members of Congress and key staff to communicate industry priorities, and to convey real-life farming practices to influential administration officials and regulators on Capitol Hill. John Keeling, executive Vice President and CEO of the National Potato Council that hosted the event, said delegates addressed pressing issues such as trucking shortages, research matters, and trade – in particular the current NAFTA trade negotiations. Watch video summary 

‘Global potato demand up, US market share for frozen products down,’ says CEO

Image result for potatoes usaWorldwide consumption of potatoes is increasing, according to Blair Richardson, chief executive officer of Potatoes USA. “We’re seeing a reversal of the downward trend in global potato-product sales that we’ve been in since the 1970s,” Richardson related during a recent meeting of Wisconsin potato growers. “Not only are we seeing positive growth at the retail level, we’re also seeing significant increases in the food-service sector,” he said. “This year, for the first time ever, food-service sales will exceed retail sales.” Only about 10 percent of Americans love to cook anymore, he reported. “We love looking at food and we love eating but we just want somebody else to do the cooking. That’s why people are switching back to potatoes and why the demand for potatoes is increasing,” he said. “If you’re depending on other people to cook part, or all, of your meals, we fit well in all the cuisines that people are interested in.” Critical challenges, however, remain for the U.S. potato industry., including losing global market share in frozen potato products. More

GREATsoils Webinar: Intended to help growers make changes to soil management practices and improve growing systems

Related imageAHDB Horticulture funded GREATsoils project in the UK has found that growers are becoming increasingly interested in soil health and how it affects the success of their business. The information that will be provided in this webinar will help growers to make changes to their soil management practices and improve growing systems. The project has used grower field trials, field labs, case studies and workshops to assess current soil testing tools and what they mean for growers in the field. This webinar will take place tomorrow, 27 March. It will cover what’s been learned thus far, and will increase your knowledge of the potential business and agronomic benefits of paying greater attention to soil. The webinar is aimed at growers and crop consultants and other advisors working in horticulture, though other agricultural advisors will also find it useful. Go here to register and for further information

Ireland selected to host 2021 World Potato Congress and Europatat Congress

The Irish Potato Federation – with the support of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Bord Bia, Failte Ireland and Teagasc – has won the bid to host the World Potato Congress (WPC) in 2021 in Dublin. It is envisaged that 1,000 delegates, from developing and developed countries across the globe, including growers, researchers, producers, traders, processors and manufacturers, will attend the congress. The Irish Potato Federation has also secured the simultaneous hosting of the Europatat Congress, which is the annual congress of the European association of the potato trade. The president and CEO of World Potato Congress Inc, Romain Cools, said: “Ireland has a very important historical and cultural connection with the potato going back hundreds of years. The World Potato Congress in Dublin will be the perfect follow-up to this year’s congress, which will be held in May 2018 in Cuzco, Peru. I will be working closely with the Irish Potato Federation over the coming years and really look forward to visiting Dublin in 2021 for the Congress.” More

China: A potato production powerhouse

Hundreds of potato stakeholders from around the globe will descend on Cusco, Peru, in May for the 10th World Potato Congress (WPC). One the largest groups of participants will be from China, the leading potato producer in the world and the host nation for the last WPC in 2015. According to Peter VanderZaag, a WPC director, the event in China was a tremendous success for the host country. WPC 2015 was held in Yanqing near Beijing, China, only a few months after the government unveiled plans to ramp up potato production and promote consumption of potato products as part of a new “Potato as a Staple Food Policy”. CEO of the WPC, Belgian Romain Cools says the knowledge sharing and networking opportunities provided by WPC 2015 were a boon to the Chinese potato industry. Cools believes the congress in 2015 played a pivotal role in helping drive China’s Potato as a Staple Food Policy forward. Kaiyun Xie, chief technology officer for Xisen Potato Industry Group Co. Ltd. in Leling, China, says China might be the only country in the world to invest so much budget on potato research and development. More

Pennsylvania potato growers review lessons from 2017 season; updated on spud trials

Related imageMore than 50 growers attended Eastern Pennsylvania Potato Day on March 6. The annual meeting featured variety trial reviews, extension information, presentations on various controls for disease management, and discussions on seed certification, pest control and plant health. Mike Peck, a research technologist for plant pathology and environmental microbiology with Penn State’s potato research program, reported on findings from the 2017 potato variety trials. Curtis Frederick, a senior agronomist at Sterman Masser Inc., discussed the importance of bolstering the production of russets, which make up 60 percent of potato sales in Pennsylvania. Doug Gergela of the TriEst Ag Group talked about his company’s chloropicrin-based soil fumigation products, which have increased yields, suppressed potato diseases and rapidly degraded with little residue. Bob Leiby, an agronomist for Pennsylvania Co-operative Potato Growers Inc., discussed soil health for potatoes, seed certification, plant health and pest management. More

Potatoes on the right track as performance food

Image result for potatoes performance foodA year ago, Potatoes USA members started a new campaign to market potatoes as a performance food. A year later, they confirmed that’s the right track. “We did research on what works and what doesn’t work,” said Blair Richardson, CEO of Potatoes USA, March 14 at the group’s annual meeting in Denver. “Potatoes as a performance vegetable is something we can achieve. We’re asking people what they’re eating when they perform, and if they’re eating potatoes, that’s what we’re trying to create.” The consumer marketing campaign encourages active people to be their best and beat their best, and potatoes are the fuel for that. “We can all customize this program,” Richardson said. “If we all get behind it, we can change the perception of potatoes.” Director of marketing programs Kim Breshears said the industry needs to move potatoes from “You can eat potatoes” to “You should eat potatoes.” More

‘Potatoes are on an upward trajectory,’ says Potatoes USA

potusa 1 webThere are consumers who love potatoes, and Potatoes USA’s fiscal year 2019 will target them. That’s not to say potatoes aren’t popular among all consumers. Board leaders showed how potatoes are consumers’ favorite vegetable, and that’s reflected in the board’s mission statement: Strengthen demand of USA Potatoes. At the USA Potatoes annual meeting March 12-15 in Denver, the board started with a review of its domestic marketing plans. It approved FY19 domestic marketing investments of $4.86 million for the July to June fiscal year. The primary domestic strategies for the board are to inspire potato innovation across all channels, promote potatoes as performance food, cultivate strategic partnerships and advocate for scientific research to show potatoes’ role in enhancing physical and mental performance. John Toaspern, chief marketing officer, said potatoes are on an upward trajectory, which is a nice trend after some flat recent years. More

Digital copy of Dickeya and Pectobacterium Summit presentations now available

Related imageA Dickeya and Pectobacterium Summit was held in November 2017 at the University of Maine. A digital copy of the presentations are available to purchase on the university’s website. The main bacteria causing potato blackleg and tuber soft rot are Pectobacterium atrosepticumP. carotovorumsubsp. carotovorum, and Dickeya spp., all formerly belonging to the genus ErwiniaDickeya and Pectobacterium affect a number of host species including potato. Some experts say it is a relatively new threat to potato production in North America. Some of the several presentations at the meeting in Maine include: an overview of dickeya and pectobacterium in Europe and the US; current advances in detection and diagnosis of Dickeya; future dickeya research needs; potential sources and emerging dickeya and pectobacterium species; and more. Questions regarding the Summit can be directed to Steve Johnson at or 207.554.4373. More information

Latest issue of the PAA newsletter published; final call made for meeting papers

The March issue of the Potato Association of America’s official newsletter has been published and can be downloaded online. “Visibility and relevance. That is my daily mantra as I’ve settled in at the helm,” writes the PAA President, Shelley Jansky. “My two main goals this year are to enhance the visibility of the PAA and try to find ways to make it more relevant to its membership. The two main faces of PAA are our annual meeting and our journal, The American Journal of Potato Research. If you are like most PAA members, you are passionate about your work and about potatoes. Let’s work together to make sure the PAA remains visible and relevant.” The next PAA meeting will be held in Boise, Idaho from July 22 – 26.  A second and final call for papers to be presented at the 102nd Annual Meeting of the PAA was issued recently. Download the latest newsletter as a pdf file. Further information on the PAA website