Canadian researchers exploring an environmentally friendly solution to potato early dying complex

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada researchers in Fredericton are exploring environmentally friendly solutions to manage Potato Early Dying complex (PED), a disease that is limiting yields in many potato fields in eastern Canada. PED is a disease complex caused by a combination of a fungal disease (Verticillium wilt) and root-lesion nematodes. With few available treatments, a process called biofumigation is being used by some growers to manage PED.  The process involves tilling mustard plants into the soil at a specific stage of growth with enough heat and moisture in the ground to induce a chemical breakdown of the plant material. “As the mustard decomposes, it releases a chemical that reduces Verticillium wilt pathogens without adverse effects on the environment,” explains Dr. Dahu Chen, AAFC plant pathologist at the Fredericton Research and Development Centre.  Continue reading

GMO potato can reduce fungicide use by 90 percent, but activists not happy

Image result for GMO potato can reduce fungicide use by 90 percentResearchers in Ireland and the Netherlands have discovered that a genetically engineered potato carrying a blight resistance gene could help farmers reduce fungicide sprays by up to 90 percent. Scientists from Wageningen University in the Netherlands and Teagasc, the Irish agricultural research agency, conducted three years of field tests in the two countries to examine the effectiveness of potato genes aiming to confer resistance to Phytophthora infestans. In modern agriculture, late blight is kept in check via a regime of fungicide sprays, with farmers sometimes having to spray their potato crops as often as once a week during bad blight years. A blight-resistant commercial potato variety — Desiree was the variety chosen for the trials — would therefore help to reduce the environmental burden of agro-chemical sprays, as well as costs to farmers. Despite the potential for environmental benefits, anti-GMO activists have tried to stop trials in both countries. More

On the International Day for Biological Diversity, consider the beauty of the Potato

Today is the United Nation's International Day for Biological Diversity, a day to highlight the importance of the shared global heritage of food crops, the people who grow them, and working together to keep agriculture alive for the generations to come.In an article published today on, Mercedes Aráoz, a Peruvian economist and currently the First Vice-president of the Republic of Peru, writes: “The potato is a gift from Peru to the world, and we will always be its stewards. …On the United Nation’s International Day for Biological Diversity, I have potatoes on my mind. The fantastic variety of colors, shapes, and flavors that can be found among Andean potatoes is as beautiful to me as any other diversity in the plant kingdom. And beyond beauty, this diversity is also crucially important to more than a billion people who rely on potatoes as a major part of their diet. It is also a fundamental resource for farmers, in Peru and so many other countries, who grow potatoes for a living. As an economist, I am concerned when I see such an essential resource being under-valued. Potato breeders need the full diversity of this ancient crop to prepare the potato for a changing climate and shifting disease threats. Too much of that diversity has been lost over time, and more is in danger…” Full article

New locally bred gourmet potato variety for specialty markets debuts in the US

Courtesy / University of MainePinto Gold, a new gourmet potato variety developed by the University of Maine’s potato-breeding program, is making its debut in smaller specialty markets. The potato is a high-yielding, yellow-fleshed specialty variety with excellent roasting and eating quality, according to Gregory Porter, who leads UMaine’s potato breeding program. The oblong tubers have a red and yellow “pinto type” skin pattern, which makes them appealing to smaller specialty markets, and the Pinto Gold name highlights the unique skin color pattern and the tubers’ yellow flesh. Porter, a professor of plant, soil, environmental sciences and agronomy, said the potatoes are excellent roasted, but can also be used for boiling, pan frying, baking and in salads. Pinto Gold is the fourth potato variety released by UMaine since 2014. The university, in partnership with the Maine Potato Board, previously released Easton, Sebec and Caribou Russet. More

Lean and mean: Potatoes a part of the top five diets in the US

Image result for side delights potatoesSide Delights shared data from the recently released U.S. News and World Report 2018 Best Diets rankings report, with the top five focusing on vegetables, including potatoes. The top two ranked diets (a tie) are the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet. The Mediterranean diet is based on the healthy eating habits of the region and recommends foods such as olive oil, fish, and vegetables ­ such as potatoes. The diet may help prevent some chronic diseases and increases longevity. The DASH diet help reduce blood pressure, by focusing on fruit, vegetables, whole grain, and lean protein. Side Delights® said it offers a wide variety of fresh, healthy potatoes including bagged, bulk, gourmet and organic, in addition to fresh cut, convenience, and potato kits. The website,, offers hundreds of recipes that the company says is perfect for anyone watching their weight or just wanting to eat great tasting food. More

An electronic potato coming to your fields to help monitor crop development

The future of the potato sector could include the classification of potato production with a smartphone, while receiving information on soil temperature, humidity and CO2 levels in real time thanks to an electronic potato to be planted among the tubers. These new solutions were presented at Macfrut by Romagnoli F.lli Spa. The SolGrader technology was developed by Dutch company Solentum and enables, by taking a simple photographs of sample-tubers, the measuring of size, weight, average length, estimated yield and distribution level. Bluetooth SolAntenna electronic potatoes collect data on soil temperature, humidity, CO2 levels and physical shock levels during the entire production process and even during transport and storage. “The most recent technologies to monitor potato production mean we can have information available in real time. This way, we can intervene promptly to optimise production and storage, reaching quality standards that are increasingly higher,” explains president Giulio Romagnoli. (Source: EFA News via FreshPlaza)

Irish farmers use glasshouses to deliver on potato deal with Aldi

Picture Conor McCabeKilkenny farmers in Ireland used glasshouses to deliver new season potatoes to Aldi on time as part of a huge €70m deal with the retailer. Aldi today announced it will sell €24 million worth of Irish grown potatoes this year, with New Season Irish Potatoes arriving in select Aldi stores on Thursday May 24. Piltown, Co. Kilkenny based O’Shea’s Farms is supplying the potatoes to Aldi’s stores, with Queens and Home Guard due on shelf imminently and New Season Roosters to follow in August. Thanks to innovative glasshouse growing and harvesting techniques, O’Shea’s Farm will deliver the New Season Irish Potatoes to Aldi’s stores on schedule, despite a difficult 2018 growing period due to adverse weather. James O’Shea of O’Shea Farms said the extremely cold weather and snow in February and March this year posed significant challenges to potato growers nationwide. More

Canadian potato research project aimed at managing nitrogen fertilizer to reduce emissions

Could some new fertilizer products not only maintain potato tuber yield and quality but also reduce nitrogen losses to the air, enhancing the crop’s nitrogen use efficiency and sustainability? A two-year study in Canada aims to answer that question. Dr. Guillermo Hernandez Ramirez, the study’s lead investigator and an assistant professor in the Department of Renewable Resources at the University of Alberta, working with Dr. Michele Konschuh, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s potato research scientist. “If you’re looking at crops with a big nitrogen impact, potato comes up. In this research, the research team is evaluating several nitrogen options that have never before been tested in Canada, including a fertilizer, a nitrification inhibitor and a biostimulant. The goal is to provide more information to help growers in making nitrogen management decisions. More

Media campaigns help British potato sales recover

Related imagePotato sales have recovered in past three years, thanks in part to industry marketing efforts, according to the AHDB. Following declining price and sales in the UK potato market, AHDB launched ‘Bud the Spud’ three years ago and “More than a Bit on the Side” campaigns in a bid to improve its perception among the public. Using social media, advertising and traditional media, “Bud” was aimed at a younger audience in particular, in a bid to emotionally re-engage consumers with potatoes, through providing quick-and-easy meal inspiration to fit in with our ever-busier lifestyles. According to AHDB, their campaigns have contributed to a better than expected sales rise. Findings from all bursts of post-campaign research have shown around 9 in 10 consumers are now considering cooking potatoes either on weekdays or weekends. More

Belgapom reacts to a potential fries boycott by Russia

Related imageThere might be a Russian boycott on European fries. In response, Romain Cools said closing the borders is purely a form of protectionism.  He is from Belgapom, the Belgian potato trade and processing industry Association. “Russia has been trying to get their potato cultivation on track for years now. The average yield has, however, remained low. For a competitive production of fries, it is essential to have constant, profitable potato production and storage. Russia has been investing in this for years. Despite this, the continental climate and specificity of the agricultural sector have caused problems”, he said. “The effect of the possible boycott on the Belgian potato chain looks to be very limited to me. This is in contrast to the Dutch market. There is also a chance that competition on the European and world markets may become fiercer. More

US: New Potato Blight app offers new weapon against potato disease

Image result for NDAWN Potato Blight appNorth Dakota and western Minnesota potato growers have an improved tool to fight a dangerous crop disease. The North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network, or NDAWN, has launched its Potato Blight app for Apple and Android phones and tablets. “We want to give our growers tools they can use in their fields,” said Andrew Robinson, potato extension specialist for both North Dakota and Minnesota. Potatoes are an important crop in the northern half of the Red River Valley of eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota. The area is the nation’s leading producer of red potatoes and the only region that produces in volume for the chip, fresh, red and process markets. Both early blight and late blight are threats to potatoes in the areas. The NDAWN Potato Blight app provides field-specific information on when environmental conditions favor early and late blight, helping growers more accurately predict when to apply fungicides to each potato field. More

Intersnack Group snags Tyrrells from Hershey

TyrellsPotatoCrisps1200x800.jpgKP Snacks, a subsidiary of the Intersnack Group, has reached an agreement to acquire the Tyrrells snack business from The Hershey Co. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The deal includes Tyrrells’ main office and two manufacturing sites in the United Kingdom, along with U.S. manufacturing capabilities, the Aroma Snacks business in Germany and Yarra Valley Snack Foods in Australia. “The Intersnack board is delighted about this opportunity,” said Maarten Leerdam, executive chairman of Intersnack. “It is an excellent strategic fit that not only strengthens our market coverage in the U.K. and France with the Tyrrells brand but also adds Aroma Snacks in Germany and their promising brand Lisa organic potato chips. Last but not least we extend our international footprint toward Australia via Yarra Valley Snacks with Tyrrells and the local better-for-you brands Thomas Chipman and Wholesome.” More

Idaho dome manufacturer building potato structures across the world

Image result for Idaho Dome Manufacturer Building Structures Across the WorldIn 1967, Barry South and his brothers David and Randy came up with an idea for a business that changed the shape of potato cellars for some eastern Idaho growers — they wanted to construct domes. The inspiration for the idea, however, might be an even bigger surprise. “This guy made him a mountain cabin out of spraying polyurethane on a weather balloon,” South said. “The thought then came to us that we could build a much larger dome if the concrete was the strength of the dome instead of the polyurethane.” The brothers came across a new method of spraying hardened plaster on domes. This helped increase the strength and stability of the structure. What resulted from there became Dome Technology. In its 51-year history, Dome Technology has built structures in 30 countries and every U.S. state. And most of the design, planning, and manufacturing for these projects happens in Idaho Falls. More

NPC files comments on ‘neonics’

Image result for national potato council logoThe National Potato Council has filed comments with the Environmental Protection Agency urging a science-based approach to their assessment of four neonicotinoid insecticides (“neonics”). Neonics have been under scrutiny from the previous presidential administration for a potential link to their usage and bee colony collapse. The NPC wrote the letter to remind the EPA that “Neonicotinoids are an extremely important part of the pest management programs for potato growers. Due to the importance of neonicotinoids, growers are particularly careful to employ use patterns that reduce the potential for pests to develop resistance.” More

Preparation for Potato Europe 2018 well underway

Preparation for Potato Europe 2018 well underwayPreparations for this year’s PotatoEurope exhibition are progressing well, with planting now complete at the event venue, Rittergut Bockerode farm, near Springe-Mittelrode in Lower Saxony (Germany). Ideal weather conditions and well-prepared soil allowed the potatoes to be planted with the latest seeding technology at the end of April. The site will host this major gathering of European potato professionals on September 12 and 13, 2018, and project manager Dr. Wilfried Wolf, from the organizer DLG (German Agricultural Society), revealed that 120 exhibitors from the fields of breeding, fertilizers, crop protection, and technology for potato production and processing, have already registered to participate at the event. More