Deadline for ad space in Canada’s Potato Calendar 2019

Canada’s Potato Calendar is the leading choice for event and crop deadlines in the North American potato industry. This industry specific print publication will be closing advertising space reservations for the 2019 print edition on October 5. There is one spot/month to fill at this time. Take advantage to reach 3,000 decision makers via the print issue, as well as an unlimited number of views on the Calendar’s worldwide presence online. Contact: Gladwyn Nickel on 1.877.878.4077 or gladwyn@mts.net. Visit the Calendar website for further details: www.potatocalendar.com

Idaho potato harvest kicks into gear, yielding variable results

SpudHarvest1The 2018 Idaho potato-growing season is just beginning to kick into high gear. The eastern Idaho summer has been hot and dry this year. While little more than a half-inch of rain fell across the eastern part of the state since the first of July, growers did not lack for water due to a plentiful snowpack this past winter that supplied the major storage reservoirs of the Upper Snake River Basin with sufficient irrigation water. Initial reports from growers across eastern Idaho indicate a quality crop that may be a little small in profile and an average or slightly lower yield. Travis Blacker, industry relations director for the Idaho Potato Commission, said that early harvest reports on Russet Norkotahs, one of the first varieties to be harvested annually, indicate a good crop with promising size profile and excellent quality. Preliminary reports on Russet Burbanks, however, are not as promising. Read more

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

Only in Canada: Alberta farmers fret over late-summer snowfalls

Some Alberta farmers in Canada are concerned about their crops after a late-summer snowfall blanketed parts of the province, with more flurries expected in the forecast. Early season snow can squash crops that grow upright, like wheat and barley, make them harder to harvest and decimate their quality, leaving farmers with a less valuable product. For some farmers, the snow provided a little relief. Potato farmer Gord Visser spent some sleepless nights recently worrying that impending frost could destroy a large chunk of his current potato crop, but the snow has now provided a blanket to insulate his spuds from the cold. Still, the weather delayed how soon he could harvest his 500 acres by about a week, he said, because it’s too muddy to work. He’s still got 60 per cent of the crop left to bring in and typically aims to be finished by the end of September. Now, it looks like the harvest won’t be done until October, when the risk for colder weather is higher. Read more

Austria’s potato harvest 2018 turning out far below expectations

Image result for austria potatoThis year, decision-makers from the Austrian potato industry again gathered in Roseldorf/Lower Austria at the end of August to discuss the state of the national and international potato markets, reports AgrarMarkt Austria. All provided various contributions and evaluated the current situation in Austria’s potato industry. After a good starting price of 35-40 EUR/dt at the beginning of June, prices stabilized four weeks later at 18-20 EUR/dt. At the end of July, however, there was no longer talk of any oversupply. As the season progressed and there were problems due to the heat, both stocks and prices changed. At the beginning of August, the extreme drought had spread to almost all large growing areas. In many places, the damage had already been done. This year’s harvest will go down into domestic potato history as consistently difficult. Read more

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

San Luis Valley potato growers expect good 2018 crop

San-Luis-Valley-potato-harvestCooperative weather during the growing season has San Luis Valley potato industry members anticipating a good crop. Companies expected solid quality and about the same volume as in 2017, with demand also holding steady. Jim Ehrlich, executive director for the Monte Vista-based Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, said there are about 52,000 acres planted this year. “We’ve had a warm summer that at our elevation is a little bit unusual, and it’s been really dry, but the crop looks really good,” Ehrlich said. “We’ve had adequate irrigation water and very few storm events, so I think we’re going to have an exceptional crop.” Ehrlich expected volume for the region to be steady, with acreage roughly the same as 2017. Jamey Higham, president and CEO of Monte Vista, Colo.-based Farm Fresh Direct, also reported that growing conditions have been solid. Read more

Below average potato crop expected for Canada’s largest potato producing province

It is getting late in the growing season, and the Prince Edward Island Potato Board says without some rain soon the harvest will come up short. According to a CBC report, board general manager Greg Donald says “it’s been relatively dry, and since August we’ve had spotty rainfalls across the province and above normal temperatures and wind, and that’s created dry conditions.” There was very little rain in July, and Agricultural Canada classified most of the Island as abnormally dry at the end of the month. There was rain in August. Donald said even the rain that has fallen has been spotty, with some areas getting quite a bit and others hardly any at all. “I’d say at this point it’s going to be a challenge to get an average crop on P.E.I. overall. Some areas are going to do OK, the ones that got the rain. Other areas, it’s really impacted the crop where there hasn’t been rain.” Time has already run out this year for some early varieties of potatoes, Donald said. Read CBC 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

Washington State potato crop impacted by smoke from wildfires

Quincy, Wash., potato farmer Adam Weber checks spuds while brother Josh Lybbert and cousin Deven Johnson look on.Adam Weber and his family last week started harvesting potatoes from the edges of their fields. Weber farms 3,500 to 4,000 acres near Quincy, Wash., with his father, uncle, brother and cousin. Smoke is believed to block the sun and interrupt photosynthesis, hindering plant development this season. “I think it’s weather-related,” he said of the yields, crediting a mild spring but adding that smoke from wildfires may have been another factor. “Some of our slowdown actually came when the smoke started coming in.” Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission, said more research may be needed on the effect of smoke on plant development. “In the last three years, we’ve experienced a lot of smoke — I don’t know if that’s the new norm,” he said. Read more

British Farming Awards: Potato growers created own clever depth control system

Potato farmer Andrew Webster is one of the 5 Machinery and Farm Technology finalists in this year’s British Farming Awards competition. The finalists have either developed a new way to drive their business or have adapted technology to improve efficiencies. Born out of an ambition to more accurately apply nematocide at a precise depth, Lancashire potato grower Andrew Webster has created his own clever depth control system. Inspired by height control systems as used on combine headers and beet harvesters, the depth control system uses a potentiometer which works in concert with the tractor’s hydraulics. As the potentiometer detects variations in bed height, it effectively tells the tractor to either raise or lower the bed tiller. The bed tiller is part of a one-pass potato planting rig, created by Mr Webster, and is suspended in a frame. Mr Webster says; “A big challenge was the calibration of the electronics. Once solved, this allowed us to set a working depth, with the electronics and hydraulics working automatically to maintain this.” Read more

Harvesting potatoes: Resources for quality improvement now available online

Related imageHarvesting a quality crop is an important topic on every potato grower’s mind for the upcoming season. Blackspot bruise and shatter bruise, or open wounds such as of nicks, cuts and abrasions are quality issues to focus on and minimize at harvest. Most potato handling operations are performed by equipment, but there is almost always a human factor involved in managing that equipment in a way that minimizes bruising.  Taking time to educate employees about bruise prevention should be a standard part of growers’ harvest preparation. As part of an Idaho Potato Commission-funded quality project, the University of Idaho potato program has posted employee training resources on its website under the “Bruise Management” tab. These resources include popular articles, bulletins and two recently added videos on windrower and harvester operation. These videos will be especially valuable for employees that are new to operating harvesting equipment. Read more

10 ways to improve potato storage management

A man with a torch inspects potatoes in a dark storeStorage is a crucial part of the potato production cycle, helping growers meet the demand for their crops throughout the year, but if carried out poorly it can be economically disastrous. About 3.25m tonnes of British potatoes are stored every year and crops can spend as long in the store as they do in the ground. Done well, potatoes will come out of store in perfect condition meeting processor specifications. However, done badly, tubers can spoil or even rot in stores with losses rapidly mounting up. To help get things right, the AHDB has updated its Potato Store Managers’ Guide to provide the most recent and comprehensive advice for potato store managers. Adrian Cunnington, the guide’s author and the head of Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research, highlights the key updates that will help improve storage practices for the upcoming season and beyond. Read the full article on FWI

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

After first assault, zebra chip still a dangerous foe in the US

When zebra chip burst onto the scene in the U.S. in the 2000s, it came as a nasty surprise for many growers and cost producers millions of dollars. A little over a decade later, is zebra chip still as serious of a threat as it was then, and do researchers have a better handle on how the disease works and how to fight it? The answer to the first of those questions, is an emphatic yes according to Charlie Rush who directs the research program in plant pathology at Texas A&M AgriLife Research in Amarillo. “There is no question it is still potentially devastating,” he said. “They (growers) get where they have a low-pressure year and they stop worrying about it or they use their chemicals wisely and have good control for a few years and they start thinking it’s not really out there anymore, it’s not a problem, I can back off, and that’s when they get hurt.” To answer the second question, researchers have made advances in knowing more about how the disease is spread by its vector, the potato psyllid, and how the disease manifests. Read more