Welsh potato growers unite to tackle wireworm

Image result for wireworm potatoOver 40 potato growers and agronomists met at AHDB Potatoes’ Welsh Potato Day near Haverfordwest on 2 February to exchange technical knowledge aimed at producing the perfect crop. Pembrokeshire is renowned nationally for producing high-quality potatoes using an eco-friendly farming system, where potatoes are usually grown in rotation with grassland. This method has many benefits including maintaining healthy and nutritious soil, but the grassland is attractive to wireworm, a pest that causes damage to potato crops. Wireworms, the larvae of click beetles (Elateridae), live for several years in the soil, and can drill deep holes into potato tubers. Left untreated, this can leave a potato crop completely unsaleable resulting in big losses for the grower. Puffin Produce, a Pembrokeshire potato company, has helped sponsor a PhD student at Swansea University to conduct research on managing the pest. Ben Clunie addressed the event on the various biological ways of tackling wireworm that he has studied during his first year. These include using natural enemies such as fungi and nematodes, essential oils and pheromone trapsDownload the full presentations from the event here

‘Rooted apical cuttings’: Promising technology with potential to boost quality potato seed production

Seed potato farmers in Kenya’s potato growing regions are adopting promising technology with potential to boost quality seed availability. The farmers are using rooted apical cuttings as starter material for seed production as opposed to certified seed. The cuttings technology has been introduced in Kenya by the International Potato Center (CIP) under a programme funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). A cutting is similar to a nursery-grown seedling, except that it is produced through vegetative means and does not originate from a seed. Cuttings are produced from tissue culture plantlets in the screen house, rather than minitubers, and after rooting, are planted in the field. Each cutting produces 7 to 10, and up to 15+ tubers which are multiplied a further season or two, then the harvest is used and/or sold as seed. This means that the seed that farmers buy is equivalent to basic or ‘certified one’ seed in seed certification systems, and will produce high yielding crops. Currently the technology targets seed multipliers, but expanding to ware farmers. Continue reading

Upcoming potato Conference in Canada to focus on several production issues

The 2018 Ontario Potato Conference & Trade Show in Canada will be held on March 6 at the Delta Hotel and Conference Center in Guelph. Several topics related to potato production issues important to growers will be on the agenda, and attendees will be addressed by several experts in Canada, the US as well as the United Kingdom. Some of the topics include seed performance, late blight fungicides, latest on blackleg research, common scab control, Zebra chip, and Dicamba drift ( said to be a new danger for potato growers). The full programme is available on this page, and online registration can be completed here. Further information is available from conference organizer, Dr Eugenia Banks: eugeniabanks@onpotato.ca

Grower Webinar: Experts share crop nutrition tips for quality potato production

This free webinar with Scott Stuntz, managing editor of Spudman magazine, features YARA’s potato crop manager in North America, Jimmy Ridgway, and the director of agronomic services at YARA in North America, Dr. Steve Petrie. Petrie and Ridgway share insights from extensive crop nutrition research and trials done over the years by YARA. They also discuss technology, tools and services to provide growers with practical guidelines related to potato crop nutrition. Just access this page in your browser and then complete a simple registration form to join the hour long presentation on ReadyTalk.

New fungicide offers 10 day persistence for potato growers fighting blight

New fungicide offers 10 day persistence for potato growers fighting blightBrand new chemistry to tackle foliar and stem blight in UK and Irish potato crops has been approved. A fungicide called Zorvec Enicade made by DowDuPont has shown strong performance in domestic trials and has delivered robust control across three continents where it is already available to growers. The product delivers 10-day persistence following application, which is three days more than current practice permits with other blight fungicides. Craig Chisholm, UK field technical manager for DowDuPont, said: “Spray intervals of up to 10 days will be something new for growers to consider but we feel they will immediately see the benefit of added flexibility, plus the opportunity to reduce one spray pass when this 10-day strength is utilised in a spray block.” More

North American fall potato production estimate steady

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Statistics Canada estimate that North American potato growers produced 506 million cwt. in fall 2017. That amount would be a decrease of 1% from 2016, according to the report issued by the organizations Feb. 12. The dip is consistent with the expectation conveyed in the December report on North American potato production. Canadian growers harvested 106 million cwt., up slightly from the previous year. U.S. production is estimated at 400 million cwt., down 2% from 2016. U.S. growers reported average yields of 443 cwt., and Canadian growers reported yield of 309.4 cwt. More

British potato growers provided with improved tools to tackle PCN

Related imageThe findings from on-farm trials could help combat a deadly potato disease that causes around £26 million worth of damage to crops in the UK each year. According to demonstrations carried out by AHDB Potatoes and Harper Adams University, the use of fluopyram, previously used as a fungicide, as a nematicide provided a yield increase to a range of potato varieties at a farm with very high levels of Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN). The findings come after on-farm trials were held in Shropshire during the 2017 growing season that looked in greater detail at the control of PCN. The aim is to improve the tools available to growers and agronomists for dealing with infestations. The results were announced at AHDB’s Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm West results day in late January, to an audience of more than 60 growers and agronomists.  Continue reading

US: Cost of potato production rise compared to 2017

What price do you need to sell last year’s potato crop at to recoup the money you put into producing it, i.e. the break-even price? Work from the University of Idaho shows that many of the inputs that figure into the cost of production rose over the last year. Extension Agricultural Economist Ben Eborn surveyed producers, custom applicators, farm leaders and others to put together a set of figures for the costs involved in production. Those costs included things like fertilizer, trucking, land rent and insurance, and were intended to gauge both the per acre costs of production and costs associated with owning a farm. Using these figures, the University of Idaho has created a tool for producers to tailor the base-line numbers for the model farm in their area to reflect their individual operations, which will give a producer the break-even price for their crop. Once released, it will be available at https://www.uidaho.edu/cals/idaho-agbiz. Read more

Drones show promise spotting pests in potatoes

Image result for drone agricultureIn the April 2016 issue of Spudman magazine, Donna Delparte, assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences at Idaho State University (ISU) in Pocatello, spoke about her research into using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), or drones, for pest management in potatoes. “They are very much the future, especially when we’re working on trying to expand the technology and look at new and novel ways to use UAV, such as crop-invasive species,” Delparte said. Recently, at this year’s Idaho Potato Conference in Pocatello, Jan. 16-18, Delparte gave growers an update on the status of her work, specifically on using an unmanned aerial vehicle to spot PVY infected plants and to record their specific locations for later control measures. In short, the technology works, but while it’s getting closer to being ready for the market, a few challenges still exist. Delparte said her team is conducting more trials and looking at building their own camera that could detect PVY but not carry the $50,000 price tag that a full, hyperspectral camera does. More

Forecasting tool named Product of the Year

Image result for R7 Field Forecasting ToolFor more than 25 years, yield monitors have helped farmers and retailers analyze in-field performance and plan for the next year. But new technologies are driving data-based decisions with much shorter turnaround times. Real-time ag technologies are here and now, and one of those is the R7 Field Forecasting Tool from WinField United in the US. “The R7 Field Forecasting Tool uses high-powered modeling for more precise and efficient management of nitrogen, potassium and water and brings that together with the on-the-ground knowledge of the ag retailer,” says Joel Wipperfurth with WinField United. He says 2017 was the pilot year for the R7 FFT. Twenty-two ag retail organizations used the tool on more than 100,000 acres. The model includes simulations of growth stages; leaf growth; biomass production; and water, nitrogen and potassium uptake. More

Spud growers turn out for 2018 Potato Production Days in Canada

This year’s Potato Production Days saw a range of speakers from 
emerging technology to resistance and regulatory issues. Resistance issues, management strategies and pathogens both new and old. Just a few of the issues that had potato growers’ attention at the 2018 Potato Production Days Jan. 23-25 at Brandon’s Keystone Centre in Canada’s Manitoba province. This year’s speakers tackled disease and damage diagnosis, drones, seed and vine management, weeds and rapidly rising concern over resistance, both in fungicide for early blight and Colorado potato beetle. The pest has been on the rise in recent years, according to Dr. Tracy Shinners-Carnelley of Peak of the Market. Fungicides are facing similar resistance problems, Dr. Neil Gudmestad told the room Jan. 24. The North Dakota State University professor noted a once rare, but increasing mutation in early blight with a high resistance to boscalid, the active ingredient in several common fungicides. More

Researchers aim to improve accuracy of potato cyst nematode calculator

PCN at the trial siteA team of Harper Adams University researchers, Dr Matthew BackDr Ivan Grove and Bill Watts, are working in collaboration with Leeds University and Barworth Agriculture to improve the accuracy of the ‘AHDB Potatoes potato cyst nematode (PCN) pallida calculator’ which is currently used as an educational forecasting tool for UK potato growers. To help growers to formulate control strategies, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Potatoes created the ‘PCN Calculator’ for the most troublesome species, Globodera pallida. The calculator enables PCN population dynamics and potato yields to be forecast for different potato varieties grown under a range of conditions and control strategies. However, the current calculator needs modification and additional data sets to keep up to date with recent advancements in our understanding of PCN biology, shifting varietal trends and new management practices. More