‘Chipocalypse’ in New Zealand as wild weather spikes price of potatoes

ChipsThe “chipocalypse” has reached New Zealand, after heavy rain caused a shortage of potato crops and a spike in prices. Supermarkets have been forced to place signs in their chip shelves, explaining to hungry customers why the beloved snack is out of sto“It started raining in March, and it just simply hasn’t stopped,” Chris Claridge, head of trade association Potatoes New Zealand, told Radio Live NZ. “Potatoes are actually alive — they need to breathe. And so, effectively, they drown and then they start to rot… because they’re submerged in water.” Two major floods have wiped out around one fifth of crops, with some regions seeing 30 percent of crops destroyed. Around 75,000 tonnes of potatoes are made into chips every year, which means these shortages will will havea detrimental effect on the snack. This shortage of potatoes has filtered down to food prices. In New Zealand, wIn New Zealand, where a kilogram of potatoes cost $1.28 last August, it’s now shot up to $1.67 this year. Potato chips are even scarce on shelves. Potato chips are even scarce on shelves. More

Upcoming industry event in the Netherlands is important for Scots potato export market

Scottish potato exports are worth millions to the economy. Picture: Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesIn recent years exports of seed potatoes from Scotland have gradually increased to the point where they are now worth millions of pounds to the economy. With a view to further promoting this trade, British potato exporters will next week attend the Potato Europe event in Emmelord, Holland. With more than 250 exhibitors and 15,000 visitors from around the world, Potato Europe is seen as a key marketplace for the GB potato sector. Among the companies and organisations exhibiting this year are Greenvale AP, Caithness Potatoes, Cygnet PEP, James Hutton, Cullen Allen and SASA. Niall Arbuckle from Greenvale AP said the show was the ideal venue for striking deals with key clients in countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Israel and Jordan. The AHDB Export Team’s Rob Burns said he would be pushing the benefits of GB’s high health seed potato sector. “We are looking to increase our exports in a number of areas including Russia, the Middle East and Brazil and the show offers us the chance to continue discussions with these target markets.” More

Maris Piper still king but British growers use new varieties to meet retail demand

British potato growers have planted an increased area of emerging varieties to serve the fresh packing market, amid reports of increased levels of ‘on-contract’ supermarket supply where prices are agreed in advance. However, Maris Piper comfortably remains the most planted potato, with three times more area than the next most popular fresh packing variety. The varieties that have gained the most area this season are fresh packing potatoes Nectar and Melody, which increased their area by 1,000 hectares (ha) and 700 ha respectively. Both are more recent introductions to the UK market than Estima, which has decreased in area by an estimated 400 ha this season. AHDB Potatoes Market Intelligence Analyst, Amber Cottingham said: “The packing market has seen another increase in area this season, with acreage intended for processing declining once more. This may be due to a reported increase in contracts offered in the packing market as retailers seek to reduce the financial fluctuations they encounter in meeting demand.  Continue reading

US: Acreage reduction means better prices for potato growers

Hillary Fernandez of Stanfield releases a gate on the back of a potato truck as Estella Dueñez of Hermiston sorts Russet potatoes as they move down a conveyor belt on Tuesday outside of Hermiston.Early season potatoes are being harvested around Hermiston in the state of Oregon, and growers are so far encouraged by what they see. “It’s going to be a decent year,” said Amstad, owner of Amstad Farms. “It started out bad and ended up good.” Not only is quality looking good this year for Columbia Basin potatoes, but so is price, according to Amstad. Thanks in large part to a 15,000-acre reduction in neighboring Idaho, Amstad said the fresh market is looking to bring in about $12 per 100 pounds, which is the best he’s seen in three years. “It’s called supply and demand,” he said. “And demand has been real good so far.” Bill Brewer, CEO of the Oregon Potato Commission, said the fresh market has been dogged by overproduction the last couple of years. When Idaho, the largest supplier nationwide, reduces production, Brewer said Oregon is well positioned to reap the benefits. More

The Creamer potato: Potatoes bred to be small

What is a Creamer potato? The Little Potato Company, based in Canada and also operating in the US, has built a business around the smallest potato in its family. It’s a unique combination of being naturally buttery tasting and bite-sized, resulting from the company’s specialized breeding program. They’re bred to be small, ranging from 19 – 41mm in size. “We’re focused solely on the breeding, growing, packaging and marketing of proprietary little Creamer potatoes,” said Shelley Henschel, marketing manager for The Little Potato Company. “It’s all we do!”  A lot of focus centres around constantly looking at packaging improvements, new flavors and new cooking techniques. The Creamer potatoes are grown in carefully selected areas across North America. “Potatoes are grown throughout the year to supply our grading and packaging facilities that are located in Alberta and Prince Edward Island, Canada, as well as, our new grading and packaging facility in DeForest, Wisconsin,” said Henschel. More

UK: Tesco to fund environmentally-friendly technology to help potato growers

Tesco has announced its involvement in a project to help East Anglian potato growers protect the soil on their farms and the wildlife in surrounding waterways. The project, which Tesco is running with the Broads Authority, is designed to improve farmers’ yields and protect the environment. It is aimed at limiting the amount of top run-off from producers’ fields, which can harm wildlife in nearby rivers and remove valuable nutrients from the soil. In East Anglia the need to protect the environment is particularly great because many of the rivers in the area flow into the Norfolk Broads – a large network of lakes and rivers that host a huge diversity of rare species. One example of new technology to protect the soil is the so-called ‘Wonder Wheel’, which the retailer has funded to make parts of the field, such as where the tractor drives, more water-retentive. More

Tomato potato psyllid: Researcher warns incursion inevitable on the east coast of Australia

Bactericera cockerelli, nymph cases, nymph and adultA researcher says it’s inevitable a destructive insect that has threatened tomato and potato crops in Western Australia will make it to the east coast. The tomato potato psyllid feeds on tomato, potato, capsicum, chilli, eggplant and sweet potato crops, and was first found in Western Australia in February. Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture PhD candidate Raylea Rowbottom co-ordinated workshops in Queensland to raise awareness about the pest. “The biggest problem is that they still don’t know how the psyllid got into the Western Australia area so it’s possible it could turn up at any time (on the east coast),” she said. “Especially given they’re not even sure if it came across on the wind, so the risk is still there. “Really it’s only a matter of time I think before we do get the psyllid.” She said the nature of the insect meant it could travel east on a variety of hosts. Rowbottom said the insect was difficult to detect, and she urged farmers to join surveillance programs. More

US: Valley Irrigation introduces new center drive motor for pivot systems

Valley Irrigation introduces a new center drive that delivers the perfect combination of speed and power. The new Valley X-Tec advanced DC drive motor uses FastPass technology and operates up to twice the speed of a standard, high-speed AC center drive motor. The motor design provides constant torque at any speed, providing growers with unmatched control and additional options to maximize crop yields. The patented alignment technology and robust DC motor keep the pivot moving at a smooth, consistent pace, even over varied terrain. Justin Wootan, a potato grower on Black Mesa Farms in Idaho, is an early adopter of technology that can help with the quality of his potatoes and improve his family farming operation. He started using a Valley X-Tec on his Valley pivots to keep up with his irrigation schedule. “To get high-quality potatoes, we need a lot of water, and Valley X-Tec helps us keep up with that high demand,” Wootan says. More

Ireland: Donegal potato grower battles to save his livelihood

A farmer who has battled for days to save his €300,000 potato crop after the Donegal floods is hoping he has done enough to save his livelihood, writes Stephen Maguire. Seamus Lynch was left devastated when he arrived at his 125 acres of crops at Porthall in Lifford early on Wednesday morning. A combination of a spring tide and the torrential rain which lashed the north-west left many parts of his lands on the banks of the River Foyle waist-high in water. The experienced farmer knew there was no time to waste and set about sourcing water pumps to get the water off his land in a bid to save his crops which also included barley and corn. He erected seven pumps which have been working around the clock to get the water off the land. A team also dug trenches to allow the water get back into the River Foyle. More

US: National Potato Council awards Academic Scholarship for Potato Research

National Potato Council awards scholarship to Adrienne Gorny for nematode researchThe National Potato Council (NPC) last week announced that Adrienne Gorny, a fourth-year doctoral student in Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology at Cornell University, is the recipient of the 2017-2018 NPC Academic Scholarship. The $10,000 award is provided annually to a graduate student with a strong interest in research that can directly benefit the potato industry. Gorny’s work focuses on the quantitative epidemiology of Northern root-knot and lesion nematodes in potatoes. Her research is squarely focused on helping the potato industry make informed decisions about nematode control measures. Gorny wants to quantify yield loss due to nematodes by measuring pre-plant density of the nematode population. “What’s really cool is that I’m measuring the DNA of nematodes in the soil, extracting DNA from soil and measuring bar code regions. It is faster than the traditional method and potentially more accurate” she explained. More

Potato company in Spain looking to introduce new Peruvian potato varieties

Patatas Meléndez, based in the Castilla y León region in Spain, is reportedly working in collaboration with potato seed company HZPC, investigating the suitability of several potato varieties from Peru with the aim to introduce these varieties to the growers where the company operates. Juan Manuel Coello, Operations Director at Patata Meléndez, says they want to offer growers alternative choices for the traditional potato varieties grown and thereby stimulate diversification in the potato sector. He says: “We have started at first with a small acreage to see how these varieties perform and test their adaptability to the climate and soils in the area where we work. And we are very satisfied with the results we have obtained in the field.” He further notes the “spectacular results” of taste tests done recently, saying that several of the new varieties have high dry matter content and are exceptionally suitable for several ways of preparation in consumers’ kitchens. Three of the four varieties that are showing great promise at the moment are blue skinned/fleshed and one is red. Patatas Meléndez also launched a new website recently, www.patatasmelendez.com, where growers can log in and enter data specific to their individual potato growing operations. The full article can be read in Spanish

US: North Dakota and Minnesota expect good potato harvest

Red River Valley potato growers generally have avoided serious drought and deluge this growing season. That bodes well for the soon-to-begin 2017 harvest. “The crop is looking really good in Minnesota, and it looks very good in North Dakota. We’re optimistic,” said Chuck Gunnerson, president of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association. As of Aug. 20, the last day for which statistics from the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the USDA are available, 60 percent of North Dakota’s potato crop was rated good or excellent, with 23 fair and 17 percent poor or very poor. Minnesota fared even better with ninety-four percent of the state’s potato crop rated good or excellent. Irrigated potatoes are much more common in Minnesota than North Dakota, so Minnesota spuds should fare better overall in years with less-than-ideal precipitation. More

Solynta-aardappel vergt goede monitoring om resistenties te behouden

Image result for Solynta-aardappelSolynta heeft in 2 jaar een aardappel resistent gemaakt tegen phytophthora. Dat biedt kansen, maar onderzoekers van Wageningen Plant Research waarschuwen dat een zorgvuldige monitoring nodig is om de resistenties zo lang mogelijk te behouden. Senior-wetenschapper Jack Vossen van Wageningen Plant Research stelt dat er momenteel 7 gemakkelijk toepasbare resistentiegenen worden gebruikt in de veredeling om de aardappel weerbaarder te maken tegen de aardappelziekte. Ook Geert Kessel, onderzoeker gewasbescherming bij Wageningen Plant Research, waarschuwt voor een te snel opgebruiken van de beschikbare resistentiegenen. Meer

Canada: Growers advised to ensure accurate soil test results and learn what to do with it

The phrase that advises us never to compare apples to oranges should be taken very seriously in relation to soil tests according to Pat Toner, a soil management specialist with New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture (NBAFA) in Canada. “A standard test will measure water pH, buffer pH, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulphur, but you need to ensure a couple of things are in place for the results to be accurate and useful,” Toner explains. “You can also have a micro-nutrient analysis done, but these results are harder to relate back to the crop and it’s better to do a tissue analysis for that.” Soil organic matter can also be requested in order to track trends over time and assess the impact of manure, green manure and tillage. A useful publication, Soil Sampling – The Key to Effective Nutrient Management Planning also recommends keeping good records and maintaining a consistent sampling plan. Full article published on Spud Smart magazine

Were McDonald’s fries better before the ’90s?

In February, The Ringer website ranked McDonald’s french fries as the third-best fast food item in America. But some think that McDonald’s fries used to be much, much better. On a recent episode of his podcast Revisionist History, Malcolm Gladwell uncovered a change that McDonald’s made in its fries in 1992. Were the fries better before then? Gladwell and Joe House discussed the change on the latest episode of House of Carbs. Said Gladwell: “I remember, as I’m sure you remember, how good McDonald’s french fries were back in the day. When I was a teenager and I went to McDonald’s all the time, I went there because of the fries. And then at a certain point, the fries didn’t taste the same. They sucked. I go back there now and they’re not the fries I grew up on. And so I’ve always been curious about this. What happened?” Read the transcript of the discussion on The Ringer website – the transcript has been edited and condensed. Listen to the full podcast here