UK: Hot potatoes under Alternaria attack

Heat stress under record seasonal high early summer temperatures could trigger increased risk of an initial Alternaria attack in potato crops. Plants suffering from lack of moisture could prove more susceptible to pathogen infection, whilst soil moisture deficit will inhibit the uptake of nutrients, which could further stress crops during rapid canopy growth. Research has shown that stress is a key factor in enabling initial infection of Alternaria alternata to take hold in plants. Affected crops are believed to be more susceptible to the later infection of more devastating A. solani strains of the pathogen, according to Syngenta Potato Technical Manager, Douglas Dyas.  “Successive years of Alternaria leaf tissue testing by NIAB has revealed the A. alternata strain to be the first to appear, typically starting in late June,” he reported. “But the current weather conditions could trigger earlier infection, particularly in susceptible varieties if they are under stress.”  Continue reading

Australia: New techniques catch potato pests on the hop on Kangaroo Island

Image result for aphid potatoSeed potato growers on Kangaroo Island are adopting a new strategy to manage the aphids and thrips pestering their crops, taking on expert advice from agronomists and entomologists to adopt integrated pest management for these insect pests. In January 2015, Kangaroo Island seed potato growers and agronomists invited Dr Paul Horne and Angelica Cameron from IPM Technologies to help them improve their pest management and control the most important pests of seed potato crops: the aphids and thrips that vector potato leafroll virus and tomato spotted wilt virus. Following a successful trial by several growers that achieved control of insect pests with only minimal use of soft selective insecticides, and no application of broad-spectrum products during the life of the crops, the technique spread in popularity among the island’s industry. In the 2016-17 season, the majority of the island’s seed potato growers implemented some form of IPM across their farms to some extent.  Continue reading

Bruise prevention in potato production: Tender, loving care

Anything that makes separating soil from potatoes difficult during harvest, and handling can increase the risk of bruise damage. Two of the biggest culprits in this battle are clods on medium- and fine-textured soils, and rocks in any soil type. Growers can do a lot to make the job of soil separation easier by proper field selection and by not working wet soils. Likewise, immature and over-mature potatoes are more susceptible to bruise damage, which can make any impacts associated with handling operations express as larger areas of blackspot or bigger shatter bruises. Planter and fertilizer management can have a big impact on tuber size and maturity at harvest. Following are guidelines on how to approach this growing season with a focus on quality. More

Videos: Planting no-till potatoes

Image result for planting no-till potatoesEver wondered if it is indeed possible to plant potatoes the no-till way, and if so, how it’s done? Here are two videos from farms in Pennsylvania in the US which shows how such an operation can indeed be done with specialized equipment and dedicated crew members. The first  is video footage of a potato planting operation at Red Hill Farms in Pitman, PA. These potatoes were planted with a subsoiler into beds established last fall and planted into a cereal rye cover crop. The second is a no-till potato planting shot at Faihopity Farms in Berwick, PA. The main concern here is to produce high quality potatoes that are both healthy for the people who eat them and regenerative to the land.

Developing a fertilizer program for potato production

In a recently published Production GuideWilliam Lamont, Professor of Vegetable Crops at Penn State University, provides several guidelines related to practical considerations when potato growers plan a fertilizer program for this season’s crop. Lamont focuses on important considerations related to pH, salts and specific nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and calcium). Go here to read this Guide

Foliar potato diseases: Early blight

In this video, Dr. Jeff Miller of Miller Research in Rupert, Idaho provides a a brief explanation of Early Blight in potato and how to manage the pathogen. Dr Miller says that early blight usually starts at the bottom of the plants and works its way up. He further says that early blight is often closely related to the nutrition of the crop, and that good fertility can delay the onset of the disease significantly. Watch video

Battle plans for potato disease management

What is the best approach to disease management at planting — seed treatments or in-furrow applications? Or is this really a question about what crop protectant is being applied to manage certain reoccurring, problematic disease like rhizoctonia or fusarium dry rot? Or is keeping diseases at bay more to do with the variety, quality and health of the seed, the location of the field, the water, climate and soil conditions or the length of rotation? All good questions, but with the uncertainty growers face at planting each year, there’s likely a hundred more. That’s why companies like Miller Research in Rupert, Idaho, are hunting down the answers to all the early season potato production questions and many more. Earlier this year, Miller Research President and CEO Jeff Miller presented his company’s recent findings at an annual potato pest management seminar near Rupert, Idaho. More

Simplot fertilizer recognized by NASA

Simplot’s GAL-XeONE controlled release fertilizer was recognized at the 33rd annual Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for innovating the way fertilizer nutrients are released in a controlled manner, the J.R. Simplot Company said in a press release. The product uses a polymer coating for its controlled release capability developed by Florikan, LLC and its founder Ed Rosenthal. Simplot purchased the technology in 2012, and has helped create an international distribution channel for the fertilizer. Florikan was inducted as an “Innovating Organization” into the Space Technology Hall of Fame at the ceremony. In addition, The J.R. Simplot Company was recognized with a commendation for the role it played in allowing world-wide distribution of the fertilizer.  Continue reading

Videos about potato production

Image result for netafim drip irrigationWe have recently created a separate category on Potato News Today where our readers will find links to a number of YouTube videos, mostly about matters related to potato cultivation. Please visit this page of our site where you can choose to view videos on crop production; scouting for late blight on potato farms; how farmers apply unmanned aircraft (drones) to better their farming operations; scab resistance of potatoes; management of Rhizoctonia Solani; what potato storage facilities of the future will look like; and more

UK: One-pass Grimme potato planters boost output

Image result for grimme planterBy going wider and reducing the number of passes, one Lincolnshire grower is seeing the benefits of an all-new potato planting system. Farmers Guardian gets a user’s view of a Grimme GL430T planter. Lincolnshire potato grower Will Gagg of RJ and AE Godfrey’s Eastoft Grange Farm near Scunthorpe operates three Grimme GL430T four-row planters. The original planter with tiller and front mounted liquid fertiliser applicator plants 220 hectares (550 acres) in North Lincolnshire, East Yorkshire and the Isle of Axholme. A second GL430T rig with GR360 rotary tiller plants 100 hectares (250 acres) in the Holbeach area. A third GL430T planter without a tiller is currently used to plant 120 hectares (300 acres) on rented land on the Wolds. With tillering, planting, fungicide and nematicide application plus liquid fertiliser placement all done in one pass now, and the move to a four row machine, it means planting can be done in a much more timely manner and in the right conditions, says Mr Gagg. More

Research: Can vitamin B-1 supplementation control potato diseases?

A specific group of vitamins, the B group, may offer a new potential strategy to control diseases in crops. Recent laboratory research in tobacco, grapevine, rice and cucumber has shown that application of vitamin B-1 prepares plants to fight off pathogen attacks more rapidly and efficiently. This mechanism is called priming and can somewhat be compared to vaccination in humans. Researchers at Oregon State University’s Hermiston Agricultural Research & Extension Center tested the potential use of vitamin B-1 to prevent PVY buildup and spread of the virus in potato. The research was recently published in the American Journal of Potato Research and was partly funded by the Oregon State University Agricultural Research Foundation. More

Scotland: Potato growers dig the latest smartphone technology

New smartphone tech could give potato producers better data on their crop yields. Picture: Johnston PressWhile the world of high-tech wizardry tends to conjure up images of drones crowding the sky as driverless tractors till the fields below, two of the latest developments in this area for tattie growers require nothing more exotic than a mobile phone. As part of the smart farming project, a software-based potato yield model that has been developed jointly by agridata centre Agrimetrics and the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) is aimed at giving farmers reliable predictions on a crop’s likely yield and value via their smartphones. The developers claim that using these devices to collect information about planting date and emergence along with field images of the crop canopy taken with the phone’s camera can help growers get a better idea of what is happening under the soil. “Decades of science and field experience are being made available in a user-friendly way,” said ­Professor Mario Caccamo of Agrimetrics. More

UK: Growers missing out on increased yields that precision farming offers

Growers could be missing out on increased crop yields and improved soil quality if they overlook adopting the latest precision farming techniques. A three year AHDB project, which is now in its final year, has so far revealed UK growers could be benefiting from controlled traffic farming (CTF) techniques, resulting in better soil quality and increased yields. Part of the study assesses the use of CTF in horticulture to reduce field area wheeled by machinery in order to develop soil structure and lead to less energy intensive cultivations. Dr Paul Newell Price, RSK ADAS, said: “Controlled traffic systems can improve the efficiency and profitability of horticultural production by increasing opportunities to access the land, reducing input costs and evening up yields across each planted area.”  Continue reading

Canada: Potato growers on P.E.I. using GPS to plant more efficiently

The GPS and auto steer system that the Campbells are using cost between $40,000 and $50,000 dollars when they purchased it seven years ago. 
As potato growers across Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) plant this year’s crop, many are using the latest GPS technology to guide them. “I’d say probably 80 per cent of growers out there would have something like this,” said Will MacNeill, owner of Atlantic Precision Agri-Services, in West Devon, P.E.I. “The most common technology is auto steer, where we steer the tractor and steer the planter with one inch accuracy just to maintain perfect spacing between passes,” said MacNeill. MacNeill’s company has been selling and servicing GPS equipment since 1997, but says sales have really taken off in the last five years. “Nowadays margins are so tight in the potato industry and in all of farming, you just have to be very careful with what you do, not to waste any fertilizer, waste any chemicals or sprays, just to be very very efficient in what you’re doing,” explained MacNeill. More

Australia: Perfect potatoes go to waste over psyllid pest

Potato farmers Trevor Barker and Colin Ayres with potatoes destined to become cattle feed.Seed potato growers have started dumping the first of their perfectly good potatoes as interstate borders remain closed after the detection of the tomato potato psyllid pest in WA. Albany grower Trevor Barker said he had fed around 60 tonnes to his cattle and had another 250 tonnes which would likely follow in coming weeks. His neighbour, Colin Ayres, who is president of the WA Seed Potato Growers Association, expects he will need to dump his first batch within two weeks from a total 1500 tonnes stockpiled. Seed potatoes are worth between $650 and $1100 a tonne, depending on variety. Growers would also soon need to decide whether to plant a crop for next year amid the uncertainty about whether their produce could be sent interstate. More

Potatoes grown from Dutch seeds may save Africa from hunger

Potatoes grown from Dutch seeds yield two to four times bigger harvests for small-scale, poor farmers in East Africa than potatoes grown using local seed potatoes. These findings are the result of initial tests using experimental varieties grown from potato seeds by Wageningen-based agro-tech company Solynta in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As such, potatoes grown from seeds may prove to be an effective means to provide not only the growing population of Africa, but also those of India, Bangladesh and China with more and better food, and thus contributes to reducing hunger. For several years now, Solynta has been working on breeding potatoes grown from the actual seeds of potato plants. This method allows one to develop new varieties of potatoes faster, varieties that are better able to withstand potato blights, in turn making the use of pesticides obsolete. More

Scotland: Potato producers dig in to cut costs and boost yields

Farmers could make big savings by changing their approach to tilling. Picture: Craig StephenScotland’s tattie growers could save money and improve both their yields and income by reducing bed tillage and the depth of their de-stoning operations, a commercial-scale trial has shown. Putting recent research findings to the test showed that by moving away from a traditional catch-all approach and adopting reduced cultivation techniques growers could save close to £30 a hectare establishing their crop and gain an extra 11 tonnes a hectare of marketable crop after dressing out – all while dramatically reducing the carbon footprint of their operations. Speaking ahead of an Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board potato meeting yesterday, Claire Hodge, the facilitator at Scotland’s Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm, said that both researchers and growers had been surprised by the financial bonus which adopting this new approach could bring. More

Nitrogen proves healthy for soil

An Iowa State University (ISU) report shows applying nitrogen fertilizer at certain levels to various crops helps maintain carbon in the soil, bringing a range of environmental and production benefits. ISU agronomy professor Michael Castellano co-authored the study and says there’s long been disagreement among scientists and growers over fertilizer’s impact on the soil. “A lot of folks are under the impression that nitrogen fertilizer, particularly anhydrous ammonia, it may be bad for soil health, it may degrade the carbon and the organic matter in our soil,” Castellano says. “We found just the opposite in our studies across the state, all the way from northwestern to southeastern Iowa.” More

US: GPS products and services add to potato growers’ tool kits

GPS systems have changed production agriculture in planting, material application and harvesting, and a number of companies have come out with innovative products to better help row crop production. Potato farmers are no different from row-crop farmers when it comes to technology. “GPS systems are evolving more than people think,” said Cody Light, strategic marketing manager for AGCO. “More autonomous features are coming to the market to make things easier for the user…” Jay Beedy, marketing manager of Micro-Trak Systems, said one of the latest trends in GPS is the availability of ISO systems to allow the operator to use the existing virtual terminal as the user interface and display for all monitoring and control operations. Mike Martinez, marketing director for Trimble’s agriculture division, noted one of the trends the company has been tracking for a few years is the increased use of smartphones and tablets in the cab for agricultural technology purposes. Farmers can keep their tractor and implement on the same guidance line with Trimble’s TrueTracker, which is an active implement guidance system that allows the implement to guide itself independently of the tractor. More

US: WSU researcher warns Columbia Basin growers against planting too early

While the calendar may be telling farmers it’s time to plant vegetables across the Columbia Basin, mother nature is telling one potato researcher otherwise. Washington State University commercial vegetable specialist Tim Waters says the wet winter in the Tri-Cities is presenting challenging soil conditions for farmers and they should delay their planting. In addition, one potato farmer in Pasco is already making adjustments. “We’re waiting for the soil temperatures to get up a little higher around 45 degrees and we want them to dry out just a little bit more before we plant so it is delaying our planting just a little bit, we’re delayed by a week I think at the moment,” Pasco potato farmer Derek Davenport said. More

New webcast helps potato growers avoid devastating powdery scab outbreaks

Powdery scab is a difficult disease to manage and can be potentially devastating to susceptible potato varieties under certain environmental conditions. The Plant Management Network has released a new presentation entitled “Practical Management of Powdery Scab” to help professionals reduce the likelihood of infections with a comprehensive management approach including disease avoidance, cultivar resistance, soil testing, proper irrigation, and chemical applications. The webcast, developed by Robert D. Davidson, professor and Extension specialist at Colorado State University, discusses the importance of learning to recognize: Environmental conditions that favor infections and spore mobility; relative risk of an outbreak through field history and soil testing; and potato cultivars resistant to lesions and root galls. The 21-minute presentation will remain open access through June 2017 in the Focus on Potato webcast resource. More

Canada: New products available for potato growers in 2017

Aprovia fungicide is a new alternative for the control of verticillium wilt. Aprovia Top fungicide combines difenoconazole (FRAC Group 3) with Solatenol (FRAC Group 7) in order to control alternaria-caused early blight and to suppress alternaria-caused brown spot. Potato growers now have access to a new biofungicide called Double Nickel, which controls white mould and early blight as a foliar spray. United Phosphorus offers its new Elixir fungicide, recently registered in Canada and created exclusively for potato production. Orondis Ultra provides long-lasting protection against potato late blight using two modes of action. Valent has applied for a spring 2017 minor registration in Canada for the use of Presidio fungicide for suppression of pink rot. Already known as an effective product against early blight, Quash is a fungicide composed of metconazole, from the triazole family (Group 3). Bayer expects its herbicide Sencor STZ to be registered in the spring of 2017. On November 16 Bayer announced Canadian registration of Velum Prime, a non-fumigant potato nematicide. More

US: Interpreting post-harvest test results

Seed certification is a quality control program that consists of a number of components intended to ensure that specified quality standards are met. One of the more important of these components is post-harvest testing. Post-harvest testing may consist of an off-season grow-out in the field or greenhouse, laboratory testing, or some combination of these. The vast majority of Idaho seed lots are post-harvest tested in a winter grow-out conducted in Waialua, Hawaii. This grow-out consists of a visual assessment of grower-submitted samples for  potato leaf roll virus and a laboratory test of harvested leaves for potato virus Y (PVY). While the process of post-harvest testing and the reporting of results is relatively straightforward, we do occasionally receive questions about why reported post-harvest test results differ from what is observed in the field the following season. This has been a particular issue with PVY levels observed in some seed lots. Why does this occur? More

UK: PCN picture looks better with ICM approach

Pete LeggNorfolk potato grower, Pete Legge, believes he has finally got a handle on PCN control, with a switch to Nemathorin in combination with a comprehensive ICM agronomy programme that is seeing long-term egg counts declining – along with reduced effects on the growing crop, yield and tuber quality. At the core of the farm’s approach has been a greater focus on soil testing – and tailoring the crop’s agronomy to the results. That has included seeking out clean land, extending rotations, adopting resistant or tolerant varieties, split field cropping and better targeted use of a nematicide. “We are now sampling all potato fields – both our own and long-term rented land – on one hectare grids, and using GPS technology to build up  a better picture and understanding of the PCN populations,” he reported. “We have even started doing some pf:pi counts, pre and post cropping.” Armed with the knowledge of PCN levels, he says they are better able to adjust cropping and variety selection to individual field situations, even to the extent of taking fields out of the rotation if PCN populations are too high, or being more selective in fields that are rented. More

New disease crosses the Atlantic

Soon after their spuds were planted in 2014, some growers in the northeastern United States knew they had a problem. Much of the crop didn’t even emerge. Growers were looking at stands of only 40 percent, said Steve Johnson, an Extension crops specialist with the University of Maine. Soon, wilting and blackleg-like symptoms began to appear in affected fields. But this didn’t act like regular blackleg. The mystery pathogen was more aggressive. “It looked like blackleg on steroids,” Johnson said. It turned out to be dickeya dianthicola, a seedborne pathogen that’s new to the North American potato industry but has bedeviled European growers for decades. During the past two years the disease has been detected in several states, mostly in the Northeast. D. dianthicola has caused significant losses to some commercial spud growers in the region, Johnson said. In some cases, farmers have left entire fields unharvested. More