Re-fry: Potato news that sizzled…

Below is a short list of some of the news items that readers of Potato News Today found most interesting during the past month, according to our statistics – in case you missed it. Remember that you can also get updated daily with the latest news if you follow us via email (click follow button on the right), or on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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European organizations looking to find alternative markets for surplus potatoes

The organisations UNPT (National Union of Potato Producers, France), ABS (Algemeen Boerensyndicaat, Flanders) and FWA (Walloon Federation of Agriculture) launched a project last year with the aim to find alternative markets in the North of France, Wallonia, and Flanders during seasons of an overproduction of potatoes. The Interreg GEPOS project was started last January and is being carried out with the support of the European Regional Development Fund. It will be finalised in July 2019. The organizations say that during the past 10 years, three seasons were marked by a very large surplus of potatoes produced, and consequently very bad prices. During these years, large volumes of “very cheap” potatoes were available, which made it necessary for growers to find alternative market outlets for surplus potatoes not absorbed by existing agreements.  Continue reading

New biofumigant crop mix: Turning up the heat on potato cyst nematode

Image result for biofumigant mustardA new summer-sown biofumigant plant mix that offers improved suppression of potato cyst nematode, compared with autumn-sown, overwintered varieties, is being launched this season by Agrovista in the UK. Summer Vindaloo is a mix of the hottest mustard varieties and very hot rocket, which grows quickly and develops powerful biofumigation activity within three months of sowing, says Shropshire-based agronomist Andrew Wade. The mix will appeal, especially on trickier land, to growers who prefer or need to complete their deep cultivations before winter sets in, he says. “It can be incorporated in October and deliver at least as powerful a punch as the more traditional over-wintered mixes,” he explains. Summer Vindaloo has been developed as a result of an extensive trials network and PhD research pioneered by Agrovista Agronomist Luke Hardy. Another new study in Agrovista’s Shropshire trials is investigating trap cropping, using plants that produce a similar exudate to potato roots, fooling the PCN into hatching. More

Injury prone: What dicamba damage does to potatoes, and how to fight it

Plant injury from dicamba has been in the news for the past two years. In the potato world, there are always concerns of potato plants’ unintended exposure to herbicides. “We have been gathering data to determine what effect dicamba has on seed tubers and potato plants,” according to Andy Robinson, extension research potato agronomist with North Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota. Dicamba injury on potato tubers is expressed as elephant hide, smaller tuber, and/or malformed/cracked tubers. “We typically see greater tuber malformations as a result of herbicide injury when plants are exposed during tuber initiation through early tuber bulking. At high enough concentrations, dicamba residues can carry over in tubers,” according to Robinson. “This is problematic for commercial production, because dicamba residues are not allowed by the EPA in potatoes for food. Seed potato plants can have slower emergence, a reduced stand and injured leaves, all resulting in a lower yield.” More

Washington Potato Commission searching for ‘early adopters’ of alternative farming

Image result for washington state potato commissionThe Washington State Potato Commission (WSPC) is looking for growers who are embracing alternative methods. “How can we enhance pest control and potato production while decreasing off-farm impacts?” the group said. “The WSPC wants to learn what ‘early adopters of alternative farming methods’ are doing.” The WSPC is interested in unconventional or inventive techniques including, but not limited to: The use of cover crops or green manures to enhance soils or suppress nematodes and diseases; adhering to a crop rotation that provides specific benefits to potatoes; field corner or edge plantings that enhance natural enemies; novel phytosanitary methods to quell the spread of nematodes or disease agents. Interested growers can contact Matthew Blua, WSPC director of industry outreach at or by phone at 509-765-3680. (Source: Spudman magazine)

‘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

Funeral potatoes are not as grim as they sound…

Walmart has been advertising to my friend Terry in his Facebook feed. He showed me screenshots of the ads. They were all strange (octopus, anyone?) but the first one was particularly odd, one neither one of us had ever heard of before: funeral potatoes. The name made me curious, of course. I needed to learn more. The first thing I discovered is that they’re are a Utah thing, usually served after Mormon funerals (hence the name). But what are they exactly? Well, Food & Wine describes them as “one of the greatest American triumphs” and offers this description of their ingredients: …the cheesy potato casserole is made with hash browns, cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soup, lots of cheese, lots of butter, lots of sour cream and … cornflakes. (Or crushed potato chips instead of cornflakes, I also learned.) Read more

UK: AHDB looking to expand Knowledge Exhange team

AHDB is expanding its arable team and has created new Knowledge Exchange (KE) and Knowledge Transfer (KT) roles. If you are passionate about arable farming and would enjoy working with potato growers and the supply chain to ensure useful information is receieved by those who need it, then AHDB would love to hear from you. There are four roles advertised – two regionally based KE managers (based from either Stoneleigh, Taunton, York or Huntingdon) and two KT roles based at the AHDB Head Office at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire. Check them out here:

US: Public invited to comment on proposed special potato pesticide registration

US NEWS ENV-PESTICIDES-2 3 TBThe public has until April 4 to comment on proposed special pesticide registration to help potato growers control early and late plant diseases and two fungal diseases in their crops, according to a Wednesday statement by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). The proposed registration by the DATCP involves Bravo Ultrex, Bravo WeatherStick and Bravo Zn, which all contain chlorothalonil, a fungicide available in several different consistencies. The products are registered by Adama, according to DATCP. The special registration would end on Dec. 31, 2022 and would not require a full environmental impact study. For a copy of the full assessment, contact Alyssa Foss by calling 608-224-4547. Comments can be mailed to Alyssa Foss, DATCP, P.O Box 8911 Madison, WI, 53708-8911 or by emailing (Source: The Chippewa Herald)

Video: Why your controlled release fertilizer didn’t work as expected

Image result for Video: Why your controlled release fertilizer didn't work as expectedIn this video, Nelson Gonzalez, Territory / Key Account Manager at ICL, discusses the top 10 reasons your controlled release fertilizer may not have performed as you expected. Fertilizer displacement? Not choosing the proper longevity? Not using the proper formulation? Not choosing the proper rate? Over irrigation? Too high or too low media pH? Micronutrient package? Read more and watch the video

‘Eat fish and potatoes’: Family of 107-year-old Canadian man reveals secret to his longevity

Related imageThe family of a man in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, who just recently celebrated his 107th birthday, is sharing the secret to the man’s longevity: a diet heavy in fish and potatoes. Arnold Hawkins, from a little fishing village on the east coast of Canada celebrated his 107th birthday in January, where he received love and best wishes from his 14 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren. Cheryl McKinley, Hawkins’ granddaughter, told CTV Atlantic: “When I was little, (I’d ask): ‘How do you keep going for so long?’ And he told me ‘The secret is fish and potatoes. Eat fish and potatoes.’” For the family, Hawkins was more than a fisherman from Beaver Harbour. He served as great role model and father. “He was such a wonderful, wonderful father,” said Violet McKinley, Hawkins’ daughter. “He was just a perfect dad. I don’t remember ever hearing a harsh word come out of him.” He lives in the same house where he spent the majority of his adult life and still plays the accordion on occasion. CTV report and video

US potato industry has a lot to lose if NAFTA scrapped, says Potato Council CEO

Idaho and potatoes are synonymous for good reason; the Gem State is the nation’s biggest producer of the vegetable. With the fate of NAFTA unknown as negotiators head into an eighth round of talks, the potato industry is monitoring those talks closely. Maintaining free trade in North America is crucial, says John Keeling, the CEO of the National Potato Council in Washington, D.C. “Right now we have duty-free access to Mexico for potato and potato products,” he says. “Keeping that access is critically important. If we were to lose that duty-free access, and, say Mexico continued a deal with Canada, we could face a 20 percent tariff differential.” Potatoes are a $1.2 billion industry in Idaho and provide thousands of jobs. Beyond farms, there are companies like Simplot and Lamb Weston that process the spuds. Keeling says his organization – and much of the agriculture sector – has a motto when it comes to NAFTA: “Do no harm.” More

Old foe on the attack: British growers warned against new, aggressive fungicide-resistant late blight strain

Signs of blight on a potato plant.Potato growers in Britain are being warned to change their blight control strategies this season to combat the spread of an aggressive fungicide-resistant strain of the disease which has reached Suffolk. The dark green 37_A2 form of Phytopthora infestans has quickly spread across Europe, reaching England two years ago when five cases were reported. Around 20 cases were officially recorded in 2017, mainly in the West Midlands, Yorkshire and Kent, and more recently in Suffolk. However, Darryl Shailes, root crop technical manager at agronomy firm Hutchinsons, believes the actual figure could be higher, with all crops – no matter where they are grown – potentially at risk. The new strain is at least, if not more, aggressive than the dominant blue 13 and pink 6 forms of blight, but the crucial difference is that it appears equally aggressive on foliar and tuber blight, he says. In addition, dark green 37 has reduced sensitivity to fluazinam, which features in many fungicides often used towards the end of the season to reduce tuber blight. More

From spud to french fry: Information experts optimize potato production

IMAGEFarmers can optimize harvesting procedures and improve yields, food manufacturers can improve planning reliability. Information systems specialists at Saarland University are working to optimize the entire potato production chain, from field to fork. When it comes to the world’s most popular tuber, Professor Wolfgang Maaß and his team are aiming to make all of the processes totally transparent. Starting with the farmer out in the field, Professor Maaß’ team can offer forecasts that assist the decision-making processes. To provide these services, the team has built networks filled with data and information on topics as diverse as agricultural machinery, price forecasting and how often and how hard potatoes get knocked on a conveyor belt – the latter data being collected by harvesting an impact-sensitive artificial potato. The research team will be exhibiting their information system at Hannover Messe from April 23rd to April 27th (Hall 2, Stand B46) and are looking for partners with whom they can develop practical applications. More

Unmanned: Drones and robots working together to target weeds

Image result for unmanned aerial vehicle potatoIt sounds like a futuristic farming scene, but researchers in central Europe are working on developing an autonomous farming system where drones and robots work together to control weeds. The Flourish Project in Europe is an effort to create an autonomous, robotic system that foresee collaboration between unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and multi-purpose unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs). The system utilizes UAV surveillance capabilities to generate a map of the field, capture image data, and identify areas with a high probability of pest concerns, like weeds. Once the UAV has completed its task, or detects its battery status as low, it docks on a UGV, where it can then transfer its data. The UGV prototype, called BoniRob, is the “platform vehicle” for its flying counterpart. It utilizes the data delivered from the UAV to determine the best route to take, and changes its driving speed dependant on identified hot spots. The hope is that the collaboration between UAV and UGV will enable farm managers to increase yields while lowering pesticide use. Read full article and watch video