Key considerations for potato farmers: The importance of crop rotation

When making decisions about how to achieve optimal product and yield, many potato growers turn to crop rotation. This method has proven time and again to help growers manage diseases that might affect their crop. “If you continually grow potatoes on the same ground, you’re going to get buildup of diseases that could lead to yield or quality problems,” said Curtis Rainbolt, Technical Service Representative at BASF. “You’re going to see benefits from planting a crop that isn’t a host for the same diseases potatoes are prone to.” If a grower rotates from a broadleaf crop susceptible to many of the same diseases as potatoes to a grass crop that is not so susceptible, then Rainbolt’s advice rings especially true. Whether growers decide to grow a broadleaf crop like sugar beets or a grass crop such as corn, it’s important for them to have diversity in their operation. “The more diversity you have in your rotation, the more you’re going to lower the disease pressure,” said Rainbolt. More

Idaho potato crop returns to average volumes

Idaho has bounced back to a more normal potato crop this season from its bumper crop last year. Last season, Idaho had more potatoes available for the fresh market than any other year in its history, said Ryan Wahlen, sales manager for Pleasant Valley Potato Inc., Aberdeen, Idaho. The United Potato Growers of Idaho reported that planted acreage statewide is down nearly 15,000 acres, from 322,629 in 2016 to 307,776 in 2017. Total fresh potato production in Idaho last season was 38.2 million cwt., according to the group. This season, it’s estimating production between 31 million and 32.5 million cwt. — a potential decrease of nearly 19%. “We expect that, as harvest finishes, shippers will realize how much lower yields were this season compared to last season and will adjust their pricing to reflect their reduced inventory,” Wahlen said. “The 15,000-acre decrease in potato acreage coupled with the lower yields we’ve experienced should translate to better grower returns this year.” More

UK: Branston invests GBP6m in Lincoln factory

Branston has announced the completion of a GBP6 million investment at its Lincoln site, in UK, installing a state-of-the-art grading system and WarmStor system. Designed to improve the efficiency of grading and sizing the 2,500 tons of potatoes packed each week, a high tech optical grader unit has been installed at the site. Additionally, the newly installed WarmStor – a low-energy system to adjust the temperature of the potatoes to the optimum level for prepacking – significantly improves the way crops are handled through the packing process, enhancing the end quality and reducing waste. This investment follows major redevelopment work at the company’s Perthshire site as well as complementing Branston’s recent prepared foods factory extension in Lincoln, both of which form part of the company’s strategy to meet increased customer demand and reduce its environmental impact and food wastage. More

Canada: McCain’s state-of-the-art potato specialty production line officially opened

McCain Foods marks 60th business anniversary with official opening of new $65M production line expansion in Florenceville, NB. From left to right: Hon. Andrew Harvey, New Brunswick Minister of Agriculture, Mines and Rural Affairs,  Andrea Davis, Director Government and Public Relations at McCain Foods Canada; Shai Altman, President of McCain Foods Canada; Jeff Delapp, President, North America, McCain Foods Limited;  Marc Kilfoil, Plant Manager McCain Foods Canada;  Allison McCain, Chairman, McCain Foods Limited; Dale McCarthy, Vice President Integrated Supply Chain, McCain Foods Limited; Germain Pinette, Manufacturing Director,  McCain Foods Canada; ; TJ Harvey, M.P. for Tobique-Mactaquac; Nancy Whyte-McCauley, Deputy Mayor, Florenceville-Bristol. (CNW Group/McCain Foods (Canada))McCain Foods (Canada) has officially opened its new $65M state-of-the-art potato specialty production line, expanding the company’s flagship potato processing facility in FlorencevilleBristol, in the province of New Brunswick. The new 35,000 square foot McCain Foods potato specialty production line addition represents the largest capacity expansion investment in Canada in nearly 10 years.  The investment is reflective of the continued growth of the North American frozen potato and potato specialty segments in both the retail and food service businesses. “Florenceville continues to be the French fry capital of the world. The official opening of the new production line reflects McCain’s ongoing commitment to invest in the needs of our consumers and customers today, and also the company’s focus towards future product development and innovation,” said Jeff DeLapp, President, North America, McCain Foods Limited. More

Zebra chip pathogen found in Western Canada for the first time

Image result for zebra chip imageFor the first time, evidence of the zebra chip pathogen has been found in potato fields in southern Alberta, but the University of Lethbridge’s Dr. Dan Johnson cautions against panic. “So far, the zebra chip pathogen has appeared in only small numbers of potato psyllids,” says Johnson, a bio-geography professor and coordinator of the Canadian Potato Psyllid and Zebra Chip Monitoring Network. “The number of potato psyllids in all Alberta sites is very low and many sample cards have found no evidence of the potato psyllid insect. Zebra chip does not normally become a problem unless the potato psyllids are found in much higher numbers than are currently being found in Canada.” An infected potato psyllid insect carries the Lso (Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum) pathogen that can cause zebra chip disease in potato crops. Zebra chip has affected potato crops in the United States, Mexico and New Zealand and caused millions of dollars in losses. Potatoes with zebra chip develop unsightly dark lines when fried, making affected potatoes unsellable. More

Robinson Fresh and Albert Bartlett bring British potatoes to North America

Robinson Fresh and Albert Bartlett bring premium potatoes to North America. (Photo: Albert Bartlett)Robinson Fresh®, a division of C.H. Robinson, is now the exclusive provider of Albert Bartlett potatoes in North America. Albert Bartlett is a leader in the fresh and frozen potato market for the United Kingdom, and is increasing its presence in North America with headquarters in Denver and growers throughout the continent. “When we heard Albert Bartlett was looking for opportunities to further expand into the North American market, we knew we wanted to get involved,” said Michael Castagnetto, vice president of global sourcing at Robinson Fresh. “Albert Bartlett plays in a unique space in the food industry that we see as the forefront of consumer trends — the company prioritizes flavor to drive the category and provides a premium option to offer a meaningful culinary experience. As Michelin-star chefs and home cooks alike are utilizing this product, we believe this is the future direction of the produce industry.” More

US: RPE to feature new product innovations at Fresh Summit

What’s new in the fresh potato category? From RPE, Inc. a new potato item, a unique approach for commodity product and fresh innovations that add value for both consumers and retailers alike. New featured item: SteamPak Mini™, for the health conscious and on-the-go consumer, is a single-serve package of fresh potatoes. Microwaving in four minutes for a great snack or side dish, SteamPak Mini has no additives and addresses a trend toward smaller pack sizes and a desire from consumers to reduce food waste. Unique approach for commodity product: Old Oak Farms® Party Potatoes, offered exclusively by RPE, are fingerling potatoes re-imagined with precise size specifications. RPE will also highlight Tasteful Selections Steam & Savor™ steamable bags featuring Organic Mini Sweet Potatoes, and White Russet® brand potatoes. More

Low carb potato variety wins New Zealand Food Award

Image result for LotatoesT&G’s Lotatoes has won The Ministry for Primary Industries Primary Sector Products Award at the 2017 New Zealand Food Awards. The category promotes, recognizes and showcases innovations in primary sector products, processing and packaging methods. Lotatoes came out on top with the judges being particularly impressed with the process used to naturally breed and sustainably grow the lower carbohydrate and fewer calorie potato that’s taken New Zealand by storm. “Lotatoes is a high-quality and delicious potato, sustainably grown right here in New Zealand by passionate farmers loved by kiwi consumers. We’re extremely proud of Lotatoes win at the 2017 New Zealand Food Awards,” says Andrew Keaney, executive general manager, T&G who accepted the top award. This potato, with 40% less carbs and fewer calories than other potato varieties, was developed by cross-breeding different varieties of potato seeds together. More

Uganda: GMO potatoes expected to reach store shelves in 2020

Scientists say the first batch of locally grown genetically modified potatoes will be on sale in Ugandan retail markets in 2020. Dr Alex Barekye, the director of Kachwekano Zonal Agriculture Research Institute in the western district of Rubanda, said agricultural biotechnology research on potatoes is underway to create a genetically modified variety that will be resistant to diseases. Barekye said three trials have been conducted on the Victoria potato variety and so far, tests did not find any disease, yet the yield is high. “When we look at all the products in the GMO line and look at the duration of the crop, I think potatoes will be the first GMO crop to be commercially available in Uganda. We have conducted three trials and found that the disease is not there. The yield is good and there is nothing that has changed,” Dr. Barekye told The Observer in an interview during the World Food day celebrations in Rubanda on October 16. More

Potato diseases remain for Western Australia crop

Image result for Dickeya dianthicola potatoThe blight of the WA potato industry is worse than originally reported and it is unclear how and when things will improve now that WA farmers will have to live with the tomato potato psyllid (TPP) and Dickeya dianthicola bacteria. The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) confirmed last week that five properties in the potato-growing areas north and south of Perth have had quarantines lifted after extensive work in tracing the origins of the Dickeya dianthicola bacteria. The bacteria was detected for the first time in June in a potato crop north of Perth, prompting an immediate biosecurity response. Dickeya dianthicola can cause blackleg and soft rot diseases in potatoes and affect other horticultural crops. DPIRD had developed a rapid and high-throughput PCR test for Dickeya dianthicola – the first of its kind to be used in Australia. More

Report: 5 Key insights on the frozen potato market through 2022

global-frozen-potato-market.jpgAccording to a new study by Fact.MR,  global frozen potato market for frozen potato is estimated to bring in US$ 60,109.5 million revenue by 2022 end. The market is projected to register moderate growth of 4.0% CAGR during the forecast period 2017-2022. The growing business of quick service restaurants and increase in disposable income of consumers are some of the key factors fuelling the growth of the frozen potato market globally. Manufacturers are focusing on using advanced technology for refrigeration at the right temperature, thereby preserving frozen potato for a longer period of time. Some insights discussed in the report show how the global frozen potato market will perform in the next five years. Europe is expected to dominate the global frozen potato market, and North America is expected to emerge as the second most lucrative market. By the end of 2022, modern trade is projected to exceed US$ 25,100 million revenue. More

US: Red River Valley potatoes having good year

Potato growers in the northern plains region, which includes the Red River Valley on the border of North Dakota and Minnesota, are enjoying healthy harvest yields, good quality and high demand. Red, and more so yellow varieties, have seen increases in market share in recent years. Ted Kreis, of Red River Valley Potatoes, said that the harvest has almost concluded for the year and yields have been above average for most potato varieties. “We grow all the main types of potatoes in the Valley for four fresh markets – fresh, seed, frozen processing and chips,” he noted. “The red and yellow varieties, in particular, have enjoyed above average yields, thanks to favorable growing conditions.” Consumers are turning more towards different colored potatoes, and the red and European yellow varieties are enjoying a surge in popularity. And despite the large volumes, demand is strong enough to absorb that stock. More

New potato variety with superior heat tolerance released in India

New potato variety in India, Kufri Lima, to take on the heat...Potato farmers in India can expect higher yields and profits with the release of a new variety, Kufri Lima. Developed in collaboration with the International Potato Center (CIP for its acronym in Spanish) and the Central Potato Research Institute (CPRI), Kufri Lima, proved to be both early, heat tolerant and virus resistant, preferred traits by local farmers. It is the first CIP clone recommended for release in India. Earlier CIP germplasm was crossed with CPRI parents resulting in the release of eight varieties since 1975. According to Mohinder Kadian, a CIP Regional Research Scientist based out of New Delhi, earlier planting is possible with Kufri Lima due to its heat tolerance, giving farmers the ability to sell their potatoes at a premium price before other varieties hit the market. Other farmers have to wait for temperatures to cool down before they can plant. More

US: Wisconsin tour has all eyes on seed potato business

sb_ct_POTATOES1_101817-1Wisconsin’s Central Sands is known for potato crops that are sold fresh and processed as chips and fries, but there is an important growing area in Langlade County that specializes in another type of potato. “There are about 60,000 acres of potatoes in Wisconsin, and this little Antigo area has about 10,000 acres, and about 8,000 of them are seed potatoes,” said JD Schroeder with Schroeder Brothers Farms, one of about 15 seed potato growers in the county. Schroeder Brothers hosted visitors in September from Marathon County’s Partnership for Progressive Agriculture to learn more about the process of growing seed potatoes. Schroeder Brothers manage 6,000 to 7,000 acres of crops with about 30 varieties and 2,200 acres of potatoes in the rotation. About 80 percent of the potatoes are sold for seed and the remainder as fresh table potatoes. Much of the seed stock grown at Schroeder Brothers was initially developed at UW-Madison. More

UK: Chip producer Burt’s ups capacity in Devon to cope with demand

Image result for burts chips logoBurt’s Chips has installed a high-speed potato frying line at its Devon facility to cope with growing demand. A company spokesperson told BakeryandSnacks the $3.9m investment in equipment and staff will help meet the growing demand from across the UK, as well as in the US, Canada and EMEA. The new equipment has increased production capacity for Burt’s hand-cooked chips from 160 tons to 200 tons, while volumes of the Better For You range will jump to 23 tons.The British-owned company also employed another 12 staff to help operate the new fryer and cope with the additional volumes, bringing the factory’s total headcount to 168. The latest investment is part of the company’s five-year $15.9m program to increase production capacity and drive efficiencies at the Plymouth site. This has enabled us to realise significant year-on-year growth across all areas of our UK and export business, taking the company from $15.1m in 2013 to $32.5m in 2016, said David Nairn, Burt’s MD. More