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

How to manage pink rot in potatoes

potato-pink-rotThis pathogen thrives in saturated soils, so the disease is often associated with low spots in the field or in areas of poor drainage. Disease incidence is greatest at temperatures between 70°F and 85°F. You may not notice pink rot until harvest or when the tubers are in storage, but it starts in the field. Infections often originate at the stolon attachment but also may occur at the eyes or through wounds. There are several tell-tale indicators of pink rot, says Carrie Huffman Wohelb, Associate Professor/Regional Specialist – Potato, Vegetable, and Seed Crops, at Washington State University. According to her, the most frequently used oomycete fungicides for managing pink rot in the US are mefenoxam (e.g., Syngenta’s Ridomil Gold, Nufarm’s Ultra Flourish) and metalaxyl (e.g., LG Life Sciences’ MetaStar). Mefenoxam is also known as metalaxyl-M and is chemically similar to metalaxyl. Wohelb warns that growers should be aware of resistance issues. Read more

Europe: French fries feel the pinch as hot summer frazzles potato market

file6ucrflv77s7cmsp8kic.jpgWhether you call them chips, frites or French fries, it’s shaping up to be a bad year for potato lovers. The record-breaking heatwave and lack of rain across Europe has hurt potato crops, with prices tripling in the UK in August from a year earlier. That’s forced fish and chip shops to charge more for a portion of fries that form one half of the traditional British staple. Further price hikes loom, said Andrew Crook, president of the federation representing more than 10,000 fish and chip shops across the country. “It’s going to be a disaster for us this year,” said Crook, who started helping in the family chippy at the age of nine. “I’ve never seen prices of potatoes be that high at this time of the year. We are getting squeezed.” In the UK, a metric ton of fresh potatoes surged to 300 pounds (S$536.32) last month, the third-highest on records going back to the 1950s. Read more

Taking potato storage seriously pays dividends

Image result for potato storageBritish potato growers are being advised by AHDB Potatoes to put as much effort into storage planning as they do into the rest of the growing season. Ewan Stark, Director of Taygrow, delivered the message at a recent AHDB potato storage event held in Perth. This message was echoed by storage experts from AHDB’s Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research facility who have been working with growers across Britain to improve stores as part of their Storage 2020 campaign. As part of the campaign, AHDB launched its StoreCheck service, which analyses a grower’s store or stores and offers practical advice on how to improve performance and efficiency. Stores Manager at Greenvale AP, John Hutchison, was quick to recognise the value of such a service. “I manage 24 stores for Greenvale,” John said, “and we saw the StoreCheck service as a way to ensure they were as efficient as possible. “After the assessment we invested £20,000 in a store upgrade, which dramatically improved our energy costs and plant running time. Read more

United Potato Growers of Canada releases latest crop update

Image result for prince edward island potatoThe General Manager of United Potato Growers of Canada, Kevin MacIsaac, released a report today on the current potato crop situation in the country. The summer is reported to have been extremely dry on Prince Edward Island (PEI). However, the province did experience two significant rain events in August. Unfortunately the area in the extreme western part of the province received much smaller amounts. Overall some fields are starting to show their age. Tuber set is down and current digs show the crop to be almost 2 weeks behind normal. The crop will need an open fall to size up and another good rain is needed although there is none in the current forecast. Dry soil also seems to have increased issues with off-types, wireworm damage, and scab on susceptible varieties.  Continue reading

Growers’ association confirms potato yield drop in the Netherlands

According to a report issued today by the Dutch growers association VTA (Verenigde Telers Akkerbouw), it is now clear that the potato and onion harvest in the Netherlands will be considerably lower than normal this year, following abundant rainfall in the beginning of the season and severe drought in the last couple of months. This is apparent from the first test digs in growers’ fields middle of August. The digs were done in potato fields of VTA members in the middle of August. Average samples yielded 36.4 tons per hectare, compared to 46.4 tons per hectare at the same time last year. This is more than 20% lower. The production is 16.1% lower relative to the 5-year average. There seems to be considerable differences between plots, though. The lowest yield estimate was even lower than 10 tons / ha, while the highest was at 61 tons / ha. As for tuber sizes, the percentage of 50 mm upwards is 52%. In 2017 this was 61%, while the five-year average is 57%. The VTA report can be read in the Dutch language

Crop failures in Germany to impact crisp market

The heat wave in Germany also affects the harvest of potato varieties needed to make potato crisps. Due to the extreme climatic situation this summer, there is the threat of up to 30 percent crop failures in the country. Furthermore, the expected smaller tuber sizes will mean that more potatoes are needed to produce a single bag of potato crisps than in years with an average harvest. There is no protection against this. However, the exact extent of the situation will not be clear until the harvest is completed in the fall. It is already certain that crisp manufacturers will come under pressure during a tight harvest this year. The Federal Association of the German Confectionery Industry e.V. (BDSI) is joining other in appeals for fairness to all parties involved, said Federal Minister Julia Klöckner during a press conference on the federal-state aid program for farmers on 22 August 2018. Read more

German breeding company Solana presents new potato varieties

Breeding company Solana GmbH, headquartered in Hamburg, will present some new and already successful potato varieties at the Weuthen Potato Day on August 30th. “In order to breed new resistant and high-yielding potato varieties for different cultivation regions and climatic zones, forward-looking breeding goals and some heavy staying power are crucial, in addition to genetic know-how,” says managing partner Leo von Kameke, explaining the success of the Solana varieties. On the Potato Day, the new varieties Baby Lou and Pocahontas will be presented, in addition to a series of successful and market-proven Solana varieties. Baby Lou is a mid-early, hard-boiling, very high-setting (about 30-50 tubers/perennial), storable and tasty table potato. It is predestined for the 45 mm triplet packaging market. Pocahontas is a mid-early, storable, solid-boiling premium potato with very high market yields and an excellent taste. Read more

US scientists identified new mefenoxam resistant late blight strain

Image result for potato late blightAccording to Amanda J. Gevens, Associate Professor & Extension Vegetable Plant Pathologist at the Dept. of Plant Pathology, UW-Madison, a new late blight strain type, US-25 has recently been identified in New York State. According to Prof Gevens, this strain has, to this point, been found only on tomato. In a weekly newsletter, she says that Dr. Christine Smart, Professor at Cornell University, has been keeping extension and research pathologists informed of this new type, which is now known to be mefenoxam resistant and of the A2 mating type. Prof Smart reported that under lab conditions, US-25 will infect potato as well as tomato. Prof Gevens further says that “all samples tested from the Great Lakes region, USA region including WI, IL, and MI to date, have been US-23. The MN tomato late blight finding from several weeks back was not genotyped.” Continue reading

Now facing 8,000 Roundup lawsuits, Bayer says it ‘will vigorously defend’ its herbicide

Image result for Bayer's Monsanto faces 8,000 lawsuits on glyphosateThe number of U.S. lawsuits brought against Bayer’s newly acquired Monsanto has jumped to about 8,000, as the German drugmaker braces for years of legal wrangling over alleged cancer risks of glyphosate-based weedkillers. Bayer had previously disclosed 5,200 such lawsuits against Monsanto, which it acquired in a $63 billion deal completed in June. “The number of plaintiffs in both state and federal litigation is approximately 8,000 as of end-July. These numbers may rise or fall over time but our view is that the number is not indicative of the merits of the plaintiffs’ cases,” Bayer Chief Executive Werner Baumann told analysts in a conference call on [August 23rd]. CEO Baumann reiterated Bayer’s view that the jury’s verdict on Aug. 10 was inconsistent with the science-based conclusions of regulators. When asked whether Bayer would consider settling cases out of court, he said: “We will vigorously defend this case and all upcoming cases.” Read Reuters report

Seed potato planting to be in the spotlight at PotatoEurope 2018 event in Germany

Related imageIn the run-up to PotatoEurope 2018, Dr. Rolf Peters from PotatoConsult UG in Germany describes the challenges and technology developments in planting seed potatoes. Demonstrations of planting technology will take place at the event, at Bockerode, near Hanover, on 12/13 September. According to Dr Peters, the planting of seed potatoes has developed into a highly complex step in crop cultivation. In addition to having to handle a comparatively large amount of seed – an average 2.5 tonnes/hectare, farmers have to manage seed bed preparation and fertilizer applications very precisely, and the process might also include treatment applications against seed- and soil-borne pests, as well as precise ridge formation.  Continue reading

Key factors to successful storage and preventing common potato diseases

Recently dug up potatoes during harvestAccording to Industrial Ventilation Inc (IVI), a storage technology company based in Idaho, the two critical environmental factors involved in properly storing potatoes and preventing common potato diseases are temperature and humidity. Adequate and unrestricted air movement is also necessary to maintain constant temperature and humidity throughout the storage pile—and to prevent excessive shrinkage from moisture loss and decay. Several factors influence temperature management for stored potatoes, and storage temperature affects key aspects of successful storage, including the curing and wound healing processes, disease spread and severity, the sugar-starch relationships, and respiration, which in turn influences dormancy or sprouting, and weight loss. Bruising and cuts can occur during harvesting and handling, and wound healing is critical in order to minimize the entry areas for ever-threatening organisms of potato diseases. Read more

Nemathorin: Online calculator assists British growers with date check for potato harvest interval

Nemathorin Harvest Interval CalculatorPotato maincrop harvesting is set to get underway in Britain, following a season of extreme heat and drought. Where establishment was significantly delayed, growers are being reminded to check the pre-harvest interval from the date of planting, to desiccation and lifting, advocates Syngenta Potato Technical Manager, Michael Tait. After the use of Nemathorin, there is a 17 week (119 day) minimum interval from application to desiccation or green-top lifting. “It is essential that growers check and record the harvest interval, to ensure they fulfill the requirement,” says Michael. This year, many growers could leave crops for longer to bulk up, after slow development in hot dry conditions. That could extend their time in the ground beyond the PHI, Michael added.  Continue reading

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