North-Western Europe: Official estimate of lower harvest; quality, processing concerns

Image result for europe potato harvestThe North-Western European Potato Growers Association (NEPG) estimates the upcoming harvest of the potato crop destined for fresh consumption to be 18% below last year’s total, and 8% under the 5 year average. This, in spite of the fact that the total area planted this season was 8,4% more than the average area planted during the last 5 seasons. In a press release, NEPG says the extreme drought and high temperatures all over North-Western Europe resulted in an estimated average yield of between 40 and 41 tons per hectare in the 5 leading potato countries (Germany, Belgium, UK, Netherlands and France). The main harvest is just now getting underway in Great Britain, and the NEPG says it is still difficult to come to a reliable estimate of the final harvest in the UK. The NEPG estimates the combined total harvest of potatoes for consumption in the north-western European countries to be between 23,5 and 24 million tons. Continue reading

Late blight update issued for the UK

Image result for fight against blight ahdbAccording to Dr James Cooke at the James Hutton Institute in Scotland, having experienced one of the driest seasons since the Fight Against Blight began – clearly the weather has had a major impact. “After some early appearances on discard piles in Kent in mid-April, we have received very few recorded outbreaks compared to previous years. This has allowed us the time to genotype the samples as they arrived in the lab, and we now have genotype data for 24 positive outbreaks.” The data indicates a similar pattern to last year with the new lineages 37_A2 and 36_A2 in Kent and, more recently, in Shropshire. There have been no findings of these genotypes beyond their 2017 range but the hot, dry weather will have been a major factor in limiting pathogen movement. There are only two confirmed outbreaks from Lincolnshire, to date, so there remains a possibility that it is present but not yet sampled. Read full update on the AHDB Potatoes website

Bord Bia gears up for Ireland’s National Potato Day 2018

Spuds up: Bord Bia gears up for National Potato Day 2018Bord Bia has announced the details of this year’s National Potato Day which takes place on Friday, October 5. The annual celebration honours Ireland’s most loved crop and encourages consumers to recognise its nutritional value and experiment with new and exciting recipes. This year Bord Bia is asking people to “Imagine a world without potatoes?” Tying in with a global campaign theme which highlights the importance and value of the worlds third most important food crop  – which places after rice and wheat in terms of human consumption. On the day, a range of events, talks and promotional activity will take place around the country to celebrate Ireland’s champion vegetable. Read more

International potato sales highest ever for the United States

Image result for potatoes usaAccording to a press release issued by Potatoes USA today, the value of total U.S. exports of potatoes and potato products increased by 2.37% for the July 2017 – June 2018 marketing year compared to the previous marketing year. The $1.8 billion in international potato sales is the highest ever for the United States. The biggest gain came in fresh exports up 8.5%, with dehy up 6% and frozen up 1.8%. The only decline was a drop of 4% in the value of chip exports. However, the fresh weight equivalent volume of exports declined by 0.86% to 3,246,830 metric tons or 71.6 billion hundredweight. This represents approximately 20% of total U.S. potato production for the marketing year. The only products to show export volume increases were dehydrated potatoes up 2% and seed potatoes also up 2%.  Continue reading

UK Potato Weekly report: Lifting continues, albeit off the pace

Image result for potato harvest ukAHDB Potatoes in the UK published its Potato Weekly report on Friday. According to the report, lifting across the UK has continued this week although it remains behind normal levels. Growers continue to wait for tubers to gain bulk and for skins to set, following the drought and subsequent rains. For many, secondary growth is a concern, particularly for non-irrigated crops. That said there have been reports this week of secondary growth issues on irrigated land. Old crop availability continues to stretch, albeit with some usual deterioration. In the East, irrigation was still ongoing for some. In the West, lifting of main crop is underway and gathering pace. Yields are proving to be variable. In the South, lifting has progressed with earlies and early maincrop nearing completion. In Scotland, variability of the crop is beginning to be seen in early lifting and trial digs. While the overall yield is probably faring better than the rest of the UK, it will likely be below average. Read the full Potato Weekly report

Germany faces ‘severe potato shortage’ and increase in consumer prices, farm organization warns

Related imageGermany faces a severe potato shortage as a consequence of unusually hot and dry weather this summer, the German Farming Society (DLG) warned on Wednesday. “We are expecting one of the smallest potato harvests of all times in Germany”, Martin Umhau, a member of the DLG supervisory board, told the German press agency (dpa). According to Umhau, an anticipated fall in potato yields from 11.7 million tons in 2017 to 8.5 million tons in 2018 could hereby lead to an increase in consumer prices by up to 30 percent. Umhau was speaking ahead of the start of PotatoEurope 2018 in Germany this past Wednesday. Potato farmers are one of several agricultural sectors in the country who said they face the prospect of widespread crop failures due to the hot and dry summer. Federal and state-level governments announced that they would set aside 340 million euros (394 million U.S. dollars) in financial aid for farmers who suffered particularly heavy losses. Read more

New Zealand, Fiji discuss potato trade, varieties and knowledge transfer

New Zealand’s potato industry governing body  has made a commitment to ensure the quality of potatoes imported from NZ by Fiji will be of top quality. Potatoes New Zealand (PNZ) says it wanted to see Fiji’s potato industry grow. Its chief executive Chris Claridge made the comments during a bilateral meeting with the NZ Ministry for Primary Industries (NZMPI) in Nadi on Tuesday. PNZ was representing the interests of the NZ potato industry at the meeting. Mr Claridge said: “On behalf of Potatoes NZ, I would like to make a commitment in ensuring the quality of potatoes that we send from NZ to Fiji will remain at the highest possible level. We have quite a lot of technical knowledge to manage potatoes, how to ensure it is disease free and how to achieve good yields,” Mr Claridge said. He added that they are able to identify a potato variety that might grow better here and is robust to cope with the Fijian climate conditions. Read more

Potatoes fight back: Despite recent reports to the contrary, British consumers still love potatoes

Related imageThis week, media reports surfaced that ‘potato consumption is down 5%’. This is simply not the case, says industry organization AHDB Potatoes. The latest figures from Kantar WorldPanel, which covers data from all retailers, shows a 2.6% rise in consumption of potatoes since 2015, the organization says. Kantar data also shows a successive year-on-year increase since 2015 in frequency of purchase among younger consumers (22-44 year olds). One positive from the ‘news’ that potato sales are ‘down’ was that many people rushed to defend the spud. A few highlights from positive reports include a response from Hazel Flight, programme lead for nutrition and health at Edge Hill University, who said: “For a nutritious vegetable which will power up your performance – look no further than the humble spud.” In her article in Fresh Produce Journal, ​In defence of potatoes. The writers at top-website-for-youngsters The Pool say they are all for tatties..Even the BBC, who aired a show bashing spuds in July, marked their own homework and said they had mislead consumers.Read more on the AHDB Potatoes site

New Zealand offers assistance to develop Fiji’s potato industry

Related imageTechnical assistance is being offered by the New Zealand Government to develop Fiji’s potato industry. The two countries have signed a bilateral agreement which will see more assistance being given towards Fiji. Biosecurity Authority of Fiji – CEO Hillary Kumwenda says this is an important step for Fiji to ensure the versatile crop is given the best possible platform to thrive. “One of them is that we have agreed that going forward we are going to host one of the representatives from Potatoes NZ that will come to Fiji and do a trace in terms of the quality when they leave from NZ from the farm gate up to the time it comes to the wharf and right up to the shelves.” Potatoes NZ CEO Chris Claridge says that they have also indicated to the Agriculture Ministry that they are offering scholarships to help build technical capacity for the growth of the Fijian potato industry. (Source: Fiji Broadcasting Corporation)

Washington Potato Commission exec: ‘We’re out of acres’

“We just don’t have any room for any more potatoes,” Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington Potato Commission, says.Washington potato exports continue to grow each year but not as fast as those of competing countries, said Chris Voigt, executive director of the state’s Potato Commission. Potatoes from the European Union have cut into Washington potatoes’ market share on the Pacific Rim, Voigt said. “We’re starting to see a lot of European french fries showing up in Japan, China and places where we normally didn’t run across as much of them,” he said. “We’re actually hoping there’s a way we can grow or plant more potatoes here in Washington, because we know there is demand in the Pacific Rim, but we’re out of acres,” Voigt said. “We just don’t have any room for any more potatoes.” The only way to increase exports is to cost-effectively bring more water to dryland production areas, or somehow increase yields, Voigt said. “We’re trying to work on both of those,” he said. Read more

PAA Honorary Lifetime Member ‘put his heart into spud research’

SteveLoveIt’s been 13 years since Steve Love was involved in potato research and development but his effect has not been forgotten. During last month’s Potato Association of America banquet in Boise, Love, a professor of plant sciences at the University of Idaho’s Aberdeen Research and Extension Center, was recognized with the PAA’s Honorary Lifetime Membership for his work in potato research. These days Love is Idaho’s consumer horticulturist specialist helping develop the native plant program at the Aberdeen center. For 20 years he led the UI’s potato variety development program at Aberdeen. During that time Love and the close-knit team of researchers in the Tri-State program were responsible for 12 new varieties, including the Ranger Russet, currently the third most widely grown potato variety in the United States. Love said that receiving the PAA’s Honorary Lifetime Membership was a great honor. Read more

New President at the Potato Association of America

Image result for rich novy potatoFor four days, beginning on Sunday, July 22, more than 300 people, from 16 countries came to the Boise for the 102nd annual meeting of the Potato Association of America (PAA). Shelley Jansky, 2017-2018 PAA president and a research scientist with the USDA-ARS and horticulture professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said that attendance was so good that they had to close registration because they couldn’t accommodate any more people. Succeeding Jansky as PAA president was Rich Novy, USDA-ARS research geneticist at the Aberdeen, Idaho facility. Novy said that he wants to continue the PAA’s role continuing to develop collaboration among researchers and the industry and encourage young researchers to stay involved in the potato industry during his one-year term as president.  Continue reading

At least a quarter of German potato crops doomed to fail this season, Association warns

French fries (picture-alliance/dpa/I.Fassbender)Sustained high temperatures and a lack of rainfall have hit German farmers hard, including the country’s important potato sector, reports Deutsche Welle (DW). The German Association of the Fruit, Vegetable and Potato Processing Industry (BOGK) warned on Sunday that the ongoing drought means potato harvests will be “dramatically” reduced this year. Out of all the potato products, french fries are likely to be impacted the most, the association warned. “Large potatoes, which are necessary to produce french fries, will only be available in small numbers or in the worst case not at all in many areas,” the BOGK said in a statement. The BOGK estimates that a minimum of 25 percent of the potato crops this year will fail, while the association’s director said that number could be as high as 40 percent if conditions continueRead more

New Chairman of Belgapom calls for better coordination of potato chain, founding of inter-branch organisation

The annual general meeting of Belgapom, the Belgian potato trade and processing industry association, has appointed Marc Van Herreweghe as its chairman. He succeeds Marc Seru who in accordance with the articles of association was not available for re-election after two terms of 3 years. Marc Van Herreweghe is the CEO of the family-owned potato processing company Mydibel in Mouscron. Since the beginning of this year, Van Herreweghe is chairman of the executive committee for the Processing section within Belgapom. He pointed to the necessity of the fast-growing potato sector in Belgium to make use of the technological means available to better coordinate the entire potato chain. This can benefit all the links in the chain, he said. The potato sector must more than ever before defend its interests, saying that Belgium has the ideal soil and climate for growing potatoes. Thanks to the development of the potato-processing sector into a leading industrial player in the global agro-food sector, Belgium is faced with numerous new challenges.  Continue reading

Red rescue: USDA helps ease excess red potato supply

Image result for northern plains red potatoesThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will reportedly purchase $3 million in red potatoes for nutrition assistance programs. National Potato Council Executive Vice-President and CEO John Keeling confirms the purchase, noting that’s the equivalent of 20,000 hundredweight of red potatoes. “We worked with USDA over the past couple of weeks to get them the information about what the real surplus was and then, what would be needed to be removed. And then, what time was remaining to be able to do that because we are getting late. Potatoes have been in storage for a while now.” A few weeks ago, Associated Potato Growers said they will have 50,000 hundredweight of potatoes that need a home. This purchase could help, but there’s still an excess of fresh spuds in the Red River Valley. The red potato issue was brought to Congressman Kevin Cramer’s attention by the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association (NPPGA) of East Grand Forks, Minnesota.  Continue reading