US seed potatoes welcomed in foreign markets

Potatoes USA is apparantly breaking new ground in Senegal, Guatemala, Myanmar, and Morocco by introducing new U.S. seed potato varieties over the past two years. These foreign governments are assisting the effort by welcoming more U.S. seed stock in a variety of ways following our International Seed Potato Symposium and state visits this summer. (The Senegalese went to California, the Guatemalans to Washington/Oregon, the Moroccans to Idaho and the growers from Myanmar to Wisconsin.)  Within days of returning from the USA, Senegal’s National Horticulture Director announced a farm subsidy of up to 30% to defray growers cost to purchase U.S. seed potatoes.  In Myanmar, U.S. seed potatoes (and fresh) became the first American horticulture products to be approved under new phytosanitary requirements.  Continue reading

Potato prices slump in India’s Punjab province

Potato prices in India’s Punjab province have plummeted to abysmally low levels leaving farmers distressed. The crop is being sold in the wholesale market at around Rs 2.5 per kg, sometimes even less. Punjab is staring at a repeat of the 2015 winter when farmers dumped hundreds of tonnes of potatoes onto the streets as a mark of protest amid falling prices. Farmers have now again threatened to throw their crop onto the streets in case the government does not intervene with viable solutions. The glut in cold storages has escalated the crisis. Farmers stocked their unsold produce early this year hoping they will get adequate remunerative price later. But that has not been the case. Reports suggest many farmers have even abandoned their stocks lying in cold storage. Hordes of tractor trolleys stocked with potato crop on roads have become a common sight in Punjab. Farmer associations have urged the government to work towards exporting the crop to Pakistan through the Attari-Wagha border. More

US: USDA grant to boost potato breeding research

US Senators Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine say the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding $388,000 to the University of Maine to study ways to improve quality and pest resistance of potatoes. The money will be used to study potato breeding with a goal of increasing productivity and profitability for farms large and small. The senators say the University of Maine will serve as the lead on an eastern potato breeding project focused on developing attractive, productive, disease- and insect-resistant potato varieties. Collins and King say the funding will “build on our strong agricultural traditions so we can make Maine potato products more economically resilient.” (Source: Associated Press)

UK: First SDHI fungicide to control Rhizoctonia said to offer 20% more yield

In-furrow applicationThe first in-furrow SDHI fungicide for potatoes offers farmers another option for controlling Black scurf, caused by the fungus Rhizoctonia solani, a disease that can slash marketable yields by 30%. (SDHI stands for Succinate DeHydrogenase Inhibitors in the UK). Although growers can successfully control the disease with azoxystrobin, it can prove harsh on plants leading to delayed emergence. However, from next season growers will have an alternative that is less harsh, said Basf campaign manager Matthew Goodson at the recent British Potato event in Harrogate. Based on the SDHI active fluxapyroxad, the new potato product Allstar outperformed the in-furrow strobilurin in independent German trials. “Allstar yielded 20% more potatoes than azoxystrobin [treated crops] across all six varieties tested.” More

Data leads to smarter center pivot irrigation

Information is one of the most powerful tools growers have in their arsenal – and the methods we use to gather it are always advancing. These days, growers can gather data about soil moisture, aerial imagery, weather conditions, yield mapping and more. They can enter their data into a program or hub to analyze it, and then use that information to decide how and where to plant, what to plant, the best time to fertilize, and of course, the best way to irrigate. Ashley Anderson, Valley Irrigation Product Manager, says irrigation data is easy to gather with today’s technology. “Both AgSense® and BaseStation3™ gather near real-time data from the field,” she says. “Center pivot irrigation growers use this data to determine when to irrigate and the proper amount to apply, using water and power more economically.” According to Anderson, a challenge that growers face is how to use the data they collect. More

US: Retail potato sales inch up for third straight month

In September, the total potato category was up 0.08 percent by weight when compared to the same time frame last year according to numbers from Potatoes USA. The total potato category was carried by deli (+2.4 percent), frozen (+1.3 percent) and fresh (+0.6 percent) with dehydrated and refrigerated declining, -0.03 percent and -1 percent respectively. Potatoes USA Chief Marketing Officer John Toaspern said the industry is “on a roll” when asked about the recent release of data. In the fresh potato category, the volume was carried by yellow (+8.4 percent), fingerling (+6.6 percent) and russets (+1.7 percent). Additionally, within package sizes, larger than 10 pound bags grew by double digits at +10.9 percent and 1-to-4 pound bags grew 7.9 percent. A full report is available for the total potato category and for the fresh potato category. (Source: Spudman)

British Potato 2017: Latest technical updates from potato event

The latest potato agronomic developments were showcased and industry concerns aired at BP2017, held in Harrogate, North Yorks. More data is needed to assess and respond to the threat posed by the Dark Green 37 blight strain, which has shown resistance to fluazinam. David Nelson, field director, Branston said more understanding of the Dark Green 37 strain was needed. “It is the biggest challenge in blight control since metalaxyl resistance in the 1980s. We don’t understand it really and need to collect information in the next 12 months. We need a lot more blight scouts. Loss of glyphosate could limit land availability for growing potatoes, warned Paul Colman, technical director, Greenvale AP. “It is a critical herbicide for controlling volunteer potatoes. Landowners renting out land may make the decision they don’t want potatoes in the rotation anymore.” BASF has launched an SDHI fungicide, Allstar (fluxapyroxad) for control of rhizoctonia in potatoes. Continue reading

Study shows advantages of locating next North American potato fry plant in Idaho

Any processor planning to build a new frozen fry plant would be wise to locate it in Idaho, according to a recently completed economics study funded by the Idaho Potato Commission. Joe Guenthner, an emeritus University of Idaho economics professor, and Amanda Jaeger, a consultant, compared costs of building and operating a fry plant in eight different locations in the US and Canada, as well as transportation costs from those locations to major fry markets. The list included Idaho, Washington, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Maine in the US, and Alberta, Manitoba and New Brunswick in Canada. One processor, McCain Foods, is already undertaking an Idaho expansion, investing $200 million to boost production at its Burley plant. Guenthner believes the industry is poised for further growth. “I understand most or all processing plants in North America are running at full capacity, and growth in demand is coming from overseas,” Guenthner said. “The industry is growing, and there will be expansion somewhere.” Capital Press report

EU potato production trends

According to Eurostat estimates, the EU-28 potato production in 2016 stood at 56.9 million tonnes, up 5.6% compared to the previous year. In the EU-5 (Germany, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom) the total potato production decreased by 0.5% compared to the previous year. High prices in the 2016/17 season have motivated growers in most Western European countries to expand their potato acreage, which in the EU-5 amounted to about 579 thousand hectares in 2017; an increase of 4.6% compared to the previous year. The acreage also grew in the Scandinavian countries. In 2017, the total potato production in the EU-28 has grown from 56.9 to 62.0 million tonnes, up by 9%, largely due to an increase in Poland’s potato production (by about 1 million tonnes). In the EU-5, the potato production amounted to 37.2 million tonnes and was 10.5% higher than in the previous year. Yields in Belgium and France increased by 15-16%, and in Germany and the Netherlands by 2-3%. More

British processed potato exports rising; fresh potato sales continue long-term downward trend

Great Britain processed potato exports are up by 24%, while imports are also up by 5%, according to AHDB GB Potatoes Market Intelligence 2017–2018 report. Net import of fresh potatoes reached 54,000t, up by 22%, while seed exports have increased 3% and exports are down by 60%. “Although this comes as no surprise, due to the poor yields achieved on the continent in the previous year, seed was in very high demand and was reported to be fetching upwards of EUR/1,000/t for certain varieties,” according to the report. This was driven by a 62% reduction in seed from the Netherlands. According to the report, fresh potato sales have continued their long-term downward trend over the past five years, with volume sales declining by 4% and value sales declining by 19% in the period. On the other hand, AHDB conducts a consumer tracker survey to monitor attitudes toward potatoes, finding that 76% of consumers eat potatoes on a weekly basis and when asked, 71% of people surveyed said they considered potatoes to be healthy. More

Netherlands: Agrico claims “double the yield with resistant organic potato varieties”

“Within three years, we want to fill at least half of our planted area with resistant potatoes,” says Peter Dijk on behalf of Agrico. The potato breeding company from Emmeloord, the Netherlands, currently grows organic consumption potatoes on a total of 500 hectares. “Potato varieties resistant to the potato disease Phytophthora are growing on an ever-increasing surface.” Regarding yields, Agrico is very satisfied about these varieties: “If the fungus shows up early in the season, it doesn’t make much difference if there’s a resistant or non-resistant variety on the field. If the fungus shows up late in the season, the resistant variety scores very high so far. With resistant varieties, we even realise a double yield sometimes. …We have to realise a more acceptable price level for resistant organic potatoes. A higher yield is necessary for that. We have the resistant varieties, but now growers have to start profiting from them.” More

Simplot partners with Spanish biotech company to enhance nutritional properties of potatoes

Image result for J.R. Simplot Company para el descubrimiento de genes para la mejora de la patataIden Biotechnology – a Spanish biotechnology company – and J.R. Simplot Company, a potato processor and developer and marketer of Innate® GMO potatoes, recently entered into an agreement to explore the potential for nutritional enrichment of the potato. As part of the agreement, Iden will identify promising genes for potential use in Simplot’s proprietary Innate® biotechnology platform. Iden has established other industrial collaborations for gene trait discovery and development in row crops like wheat and corn. More. News release in Spanish

US: Potato researchers gather to find solutions for the blackleg disease

Potato researchers gather in Maine to find a solutions for the Blackleg diseaseResearchers from all over the world were in Bangor, Maine for the ‘2017 Dickeya and Pectobacterium Summit’, organized by the University of Maine Extension. They are trying to find a way to stop the blackleg potato disease that could threaten the potato industry. According to Steven Johnson, UMaine cooperative extension professor: “This is not an emerging problem. This is an existing one we are trying to get ahead of. The pathogen may rot the tubers in the field. It may produce 20 to 80 percent less yield in the field. It may rot the potatoes in storage.” Maine’s potato crop brings a lot of money to the state and provides a livelihood for many growers. All of that could be threatened because of bacteria that causes blackleg disease. It isn’t just Maine that is impacted. The disease is hitting the potato industry worldwide. Researchers from 19 states and four different countries attended the meeting trying to find solutions. More

French potato production up by 21% this year

The French production of potatoes for consumption amounted to 6,180,500 tonnes in 2017, compared to 5,106,500 tonnes in 2016 and 5,226,000 tonnes in 2015. Thus, in 2017, production increased by 21% compared to 2016. The acreage devoted to the crop’s cultivation stands at 131,640 hectares, which is a 5.1% increase compared to last year, after a 5.3% growth two years ago. In 2017, the average yield reached 47 tonnes/hectare, which represents an increase of more than 15% compared to last year. In 2017, the average yield reached 47 tonnes/hectare, which represents an increase of more than 15% compared to last year (Source: FreshPlaza)

UK: “Potato Lono” fertilizer promises major yield uplift

Potato Lono promises major yield upliftLevity CropScience has unveiled new research claiming its product Potato Lono can increase potato yields by up to $1,000 per hectare. The UK-based business said that independent three-year field trials held in England, Ireland, the Netherlands and France had proven the uplift in yields. The company announced the results at the British Potato Show in Harrogate. “We’re excited to have revealed this groundbreaking data” said joint MD David Marks. “Our hard work has paid off and now growers around the world will be able to benefit from this research and our innovative application of this knowledge into unrivalled, pioneering fertiliser products.” Lono for Potato is described by the company as “a smart fertiliser that focuses the plants growth on tubers, by supplying nitrogen in a form that encourages reproductive growth. Lono hold nitrogen in the amine form, and also contains calcium and important micronutrients. Applied in low doses through the season Lono lifts tuber numbers and improves grading, skin finish and quality.” More