World’s largest event on agricultural biostimulants to be held in November

Image result for biostimulantsAgricultural biostimulants include products that are applied to plants or soils to regulate and enhance the crop’s physiological processes, thus making them more efficient. Biostimulants act on plant physiology to improve crop vigour, yields, quality and post-harvest shelf life/conservation.The 3rd Biostimulants World Congress will take place in Miami, Florida on Monday November 27 until Thursday November 30. It is organized by New Ag International. This event should be of interest to many individuals involved in the potato industry. Biostimulant specialists from several countries around the world will present during the event. Continue reading

UK: Potato marketing company ‘driving marketable yield to achieve greater production’

James Hopwood, head of agriculture at Whole Crop Marketing at Kirkburn near Driffield with different varieties of potatoes.Professional potato growing has never been analysed as much as it is today in order to produce the right varieties for the right markets and understanding soil is paramount. Driving marketable yield to achieve greater production from the same acreage is one of the key planks in Wholecrop Marketing’s strategy to provide greater sustainability for their growers. Last week the potato marketing company, based at Kirkburn near Driffield, held its annual field trials day where 109 potato varieties were on show across the 17-acre site. But it was Innovation Alley that also attracted massive attention. “Innovation Alley is all about increasing marginal gain for our growers. Varieties are very important and the work there will always see new strains developed. …Soil health is massively important. Every potato grower needs to be aware of and understand what is in the soil and that means undertaking an in-depth analysis of the micro and macro nutrients.” The company has also invested in a drone and aerial sensing works on reflectance from the crop, and provides mapping by calculation of light spectrums. More

US: More than 500 potato growers and retailers unite on sustainability initiative

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) announced today their mutual membership and partnership with the Potato Sustainability Initiative (PSI) to align metrics in measuring sustainability issues in the potato supply chain. TSC and PSI will work together to align sustainability metrics for over 500 potato growers and key retail partners. This partnership will also help streamline reporting by potato growers to retailers by working together to align metrics between PSI and TSC. PSI will join several agriculture initiatives currently TSC has in place to align metrics from farms to manufacturers to retailers. Dr. Christy Melhart Slay, director of research at TSC said, “TSC is very pleased to announce our partnership with PSI. Potato growers have been some of the first to create and adopt sustainability metrics. We look forward to learning from this progressive initiative.”  Continue reading

US: Potato growers do their part for soil health

Soil health is the next frontier in agriculture. While the ag industry has seen leaps in innovation in seed technology, equipment design and precision management strategies, there hasn’t been a concentrated effort to aggregate and measure the beneficial effects of innovative soil management strategies — until now. Nick Goeser, director of the Soil Health Partnership, says by managing soil’s physical, biological and nutrient aspects, practices to improve soil health can make a significant difference in yield resiliency and enhanced environmental outcomes. Additionally, improved soil health can make good business sense, too. John Keeling, vice president and executive director for the National Potato Council, said the potato industry is in the early stages of understanding soil health from a potato-centric view. Keeling notes potato growers are interested in strategies that have to do with enhancing soils to make them a part of pest management practices. More

Fascinating: Growing hydroponic potatoes inside Europe’s deepest metal mine

The Pyhäjärvi mine project is funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Regional Innovations and Experiments Foundation (AIKO) in Finland

The deepest metal mine in Europe, at a depth of 1,444 meters, is located in the Finnish town Pyhäjärvi. In about two years from now, the metal recovery from the mine is expected to come to an end. To develop a new, and somewhat unexpected, new purpose for the mine, a research team recently launched a pilot project to investigate the potential of using the mine as a site for sustainable crop development. Thus, at a depth of no less than 660 meters. the researchers found a stable environment in which they believe crops can grow well if done under controlled conditions. At this depth, the temperature in the mine is constantly stable between 18 and 20 degrees Celsius throughout the year. Since July, researchers have been testing the cultivation of potatoes as well as nettles in the mine. The crops grown are illuminated with LED light bulbs of the Finnish company Valoya, producer and supplier of LED grow lights. Continue reading

British growers warned to stop early season PCN damage to ensure even potato emergence

Emergence plots at PiP, demonstrating the effect of late emergence. Click for larger image

Potato Cyst Nematode feeding activity on potato crop roots can severely delay emergence and, in pest hot-spots, result in patchy crops that never catch up, warns Syngenta Technical Manager, Douglas Dyas. Demonstrating the effects of delayed emergence at Potatoes in Practice (PiP) near Dundee this week (10 August 2017), Douglas highlighted that even a few days of difference in emergence can have a lasting legacy on potato crop productivity. Rapid emergence assures the longest possible growing season to achieve high yields, whilst even emergence is important for consistent tuber size and maturity at harvest, he told visitors to PiP. “Stronger root systems of crops protected from PCN damage by Nemathorin nematicide treatment would also be more efficient at scavenging for soil moisture and fully utilising fertiliser nutrients,” suggested Douglas. “Rapid ground cover from a fast growing crop can be extremely effective in suppressing weeds and ensure the best possible results from pre-emergence herbicide applications.”  Continue reading

Canada: Simplot’s new GMO potato drawing interest from Prince Edward Island farmers

Planting the Innate Generation 2 potato could mean much less spraying of pesticides.Some farmers on Prince Edward Island are excited about a new genetically-modified potato that’s designed to resist late blight, which could mean spraying less fungicide. The CFIA and Health Canada recently approved growing the Innate generation 2 potato, developed by the U.S.-based company J.R. Simplot. Generation 1 of the potatoes were less likely to bruise or go grey when peeled, but potato farmer Ray Keenan, owner of Rollo Bay Holdings, is much more excited about this blight resistant variety. “It’s amazing science, is what it is. It’s something like we’ve never seen before in the potato industry,” said Keenan. “It’s two things. It’s a cost saving but it’s also simply good stewardship if we could find a way of making this work.” Simplot plans to sell the seed at a cost on par with conventional seed initially, and then increase the price as time goes on and farmers see the cost savings from lower pesticide use. CBC report

Why some of the most dangerous potato diseases are successful

All but a few of the plants and animals we’re familiar with have one thing in common: they require oxygen in the atmosphere (or the water) to exist. We refer to these oxygen-dependent lifeforms as being “aerobic.” Less familiar are lifeforms that cannot grow in the presence of oxygen. Referred to as “anaerobic,” most of these organisms are bacteria, though a few rare, multi-cellular forms do exist. There is also a group of organisms that straddle the fence and are able to live in the presence or absence of oxygen, their metabolism converting to some form of fermentation under low oxygen conditions. We refer to these types as “facultative anaerobes.” So, what does this have to do with potatoes? Soft rot bacteria, arguably the most important potato pathogen known, are facultative anaerobes. Bacteria of the genera Pectobacterium (formerly Erwinia), and Dickeya (responsible for causing seed piece decay), blackleg, stem soft rot, as well as extensive storage losses, are members of this group. Like it or not, potato tubers are regularly subjected to anaerobic conditions in the field and in storage. In fact, the most frequent cause of soft rot seed decay and blackleg is probably soils that become waterlogged at the wrong time. Article by Phil Nolte, University of Idaho

Online Publication: ‘Organic Production and IPM Guide for Potatoes’

ThumbnailThis extensive and practical potato production Guide was compiled by a host of crop specialists, most of them working at several specialized departments of Cornell University in New York State. The publication is edited by Abby Seaman and Mary Kirkwyland, (Cornell University, NYSAES, New York State IPM Program). The Guide provides an outline of cultural and pest management practices relevant to the organic production of potatoes, and it includes a wide range of topics that have an impact on the practical improvement of plant health and reduction of pest problems. The publication of 104 pages was updated in 2016, and is now publicly available as a pdf file on the Cornell University website. Anyone interested can go here to download the pdf, or follow the links on this page of Cornell’s website.

Potato fertilization on irrigated soils

Image result for irrigated potatoesOptimum potato growth and profitable production depend on many management factors, one of which is ensuring a sufficient supply of nutrients. There are 14 soil-derived elements or nutrients considered to be essential for growth of plants. When the supply of nutrients from the soil is not adequate to meet the demands for growth, fertilizer application becomes necessary. Potatoes have a shallow root system and a relatively high demand for many nutrients. Therefore, a comprehensive nutrient management program is essential for maintaining a healthy potato crop, optimizing tuber yield and quality, and minimizing undesirable impacts on the environment. Carl J. Rosen and Peter M. Bierman at University of Minnesota Extension in the US wrote this in-depth article, which includes practical guidelines, on potato fertilization, in particular as it concerns potatoes grown under irrigation. Readers might also be interested in Best practice guide for potatoes, compiled and written by potato specialists in the UK.

UK: James Hutton Institute to host next ‘Potatoes in Practice’ extravaganza

The UK’s leading potato field event, Potatoes in Practice (PiP), will take place at the James Hutton Institute’s Balruddery Farm near Dundee next week. Plant health officials, agronomists, scientists, machinery companies, trade and marketing organisations will have stands and the latest science, technology and practical advice will be on offer for growers, seed breeders and exporters. The packed one-day programme on Thursday August 10 takes the form of a full day of agronomy and variety demonstration plots with guided tours, a technical seminar programme, research and trade stands together with static and working machinery displays. The seminar programme will focus on four key subjects: market intelligence, apps and diagnostic tools, late blight and agronomy. More

Canada: Latest information released from potato pest monitoring program

A Canadian monitoring program for potato pests has proven very valuable and offered good news for potato growers. The program began in 2013 in cooperation with Scott Meers, an insect management specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. University of Lethbridge bio-geography professor Dr. Dan Johnson and his team have been monitoring Prairie potato fields for the past few years, looking for evidence of the potato psyllid insect and a bacterium it can carry that can lead to zebra chip disease in potato crops.  Continue reading

Potato growth and irrigation scheduling

Image result for potato irrigationAll plants vary in their water requirements according to their size and growth stage as well as the length of their maturity and time of year of maximum growth. Possibly no other major crop varies more in its sensitivity to water stress based on growth stage than potato. In this insightful article, written by potato specialists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, irrigation recommendations at key production periods are discussed (based on the S-shaped growth curves of roots, vines and tubers); and quality effects of water deficit and excess during different growth stages of a typical potato crop are described. The specialists further summarize the effects of low and high soil moisture during the tuber bulking and maturation stages of crop growth. More

Managing soil health in potatoes

Soil health can be seen as the continued capacity of the soil to function as a vital, living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals and humans. This definition from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) speaks to the importance of managing the soil so it can continue to sustain life for future generations. As the experts point out, potato production disrupts the soil in a very aggressive way. The tubers not only need to be dug up for harvest, there are also numerous planting and hilling procedures as well as chemical applications during the growing season. All this plowing, tilling and heavy equipment use has a profound effect on the stability and health of the soil. Spud Smart asked three experts in Canada to talk about important soil practices and how they can increase the soil’s capacity for potato production. More

UK: Potato Cyst Nematode pest resistance and tolerance put to test at new Hutchinsons trial site

Agronomy firm Hutchinsons  is running a series of trials at its new Fenland potato demonstration site near Mildenhall in Suffolk to examine how 15 leading varieties of potato crop differ in their resistance and tolerance to Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) under a high pressure situation. Pictured are Michael Rodger and John Keer.Growing potato varieties that are both resistant and tolerant to PCN holds the key to tackling one of the biggest threats to UK crops, according to agronomy firm Hutchinsons. The firm’s new Fenland potato demonstration site near Mildenhall is looking at how 15 leading varieties differ in their resistance and tolerance to the pest under a high pressure situation. The aim is to improve the limited information on varietal tolerance to PCN available from breeders and dispel some of the misconceptions around the role of “resistance”, explained John Keer from Richard Austin Agriculture, who is managing the trial with his colleague Michael Rodger. “Resistance and tolerance are not linked. There is a crucial difference growers have to remember,” he said. More