Applied Research: Ground-penetrating radar could help producers dig potatoes early

Dr. Dirk Hays, plant geneticist, is using ground-penetrating radar to test for early maturing potato varieties. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter)

Ground-penetrating radar might help the potato industry save water, according to Dr. Dirk Hays, Texas A&M AgriLife Research plant geneticist in the soil and crop sciences department at College Station. Hays’ latest project utilizes ground-penetrating radar to select early maturing potato cultivars, which can help producers make harvest decisions and increase water-use efficiency. His project is in coordination with AgriLife Research and the department of horticultural sciences potato breeding program conducted by breeders Dr. Creighton Miller and Dr. Isabel Vales, both at College Station. “We know radar will work on potatoes,” Hays said. “Radar works on detecting objects that are denser than the soil environment they are in. Potatoes are very moist versus the sandy soils they are grown in, so it’s relatively easy to image the potatoes with the ground-penetrating radar.”  Continue reading

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

Scottish potato seed sector battles with blackleg

Scotland currently produces 75% of the UK's seed potatoesMajor players in Scotland’s seed potato industry, as well as myriad public sector organisations and the Scottish Government, are teaming up to fund new research into the devastating crop disease, blackleg. According to Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA), blackleg caused the downgrade of 8% of Scottish seed crops in 2011. The disease spurs the soft rot of potatoes and can even kill off entire potato plants. In addition to the Scottish Government, the £242,000 research project has been sponsored by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, with McCain Potatoes Ltd, Greenvale AP, Cygnet Potato Breeders Ltd, Agrico UK Ltd, APS BioControl Ltd, HZPC, Caithness Potatoes Ltd, Branston Ltd, and Techneat Engineering also supporting the study. Report by The Scottish Potato Farmer

Research breakthrough: Novel way to convert potato waste into ethanol

potato peelsResearchers in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences have developed a novel approach to more efficiently convert potato waste into ethanol. This process may lead to reduced production costs for biofuel in the future, and also add extra value for chip makers. Using potato mash made from the peelings and potato residuals from a Pennsylvania food-processor, researchers triggered simultaneous saccharification — the process of breaking down the complex carbohydrate starch into simple sugars — and fermentation — the process in which sugars are converted to ethanol by yeasts or other microorganisms in bioreactors. This research is reportedly of great interest to Keystone Potato Products in Hegins, Pennsylvania, a subsidiary of Sterman Masser Inc. The company is paying attention to this project, hoping this novel approach may help it add more value to its waste potato mash. Continue reading

China Daily: China and Scotland to build £3 million potato laboratory

Mr Liang (left) and Jonathan Snape of JHI at PiP 2016, with cans of a potato drink – manufactured by Xisen Potato Industry Group.

ChinaDaily.com reports today that Scottish potato experts have joined forces with China’s potato processor Xisen Potato Industry Group to create a 3 million-pound ($3.87 million) potato research facility in Shandong Province. Xisen and the Chinese government will fund the lab which will be run in collaboration with potato scientists from the James Hutton Institute, an agricultural research center based in Dundee, Scotland. The announcement of the new lab follows a visit to the Potatoes in Practice event Scotland last August by Xisen Potato Industry Group founder Liang Xisen. Liang Xisen is China’s self-proclaimed “King of Potatoes” and his company is one of the largest processors of potatoes in China.  Continue reading

Irish research project funded to develop nanosensors for quick disease detection

Image result for “A vital step in addressing barley and potato crop disease is the implementation of adequate surveillance strategies so that rapid, in-field diagnosis can be made,” said Dr Alan O’Riordan, research fellow at Tyndall National Institute. Scope will develop prototype nanosensors by combining all parties’ expertise in crop pathology, immunochemistry and nanotechnology.Tyndall National Institute, University College Cork, Dublin City University and Teagasc are teaming up to research crop disease in Ireland. Backed with a €1m investment from the Department of Agriculture, a number of research institutions are looking to get to the bottom of crop disease. Ireland’s two most important crops are barley and potato, and disease poses a significant challenge to these and many other strands of agriculture. With that in mind, SCOPE, a research project addressing the issue, brings researchers from several institutions together to investigate the problem and develop an antibody-based sensor Continue reading

New International Potato Center facilities in China said to ‘mark new era for root and tuber research in Asia’

Image result for International Potato Center-China Center for Asia PacificThe new International Potato Center-China Center for Asia Pacific (CCCAP) facilities were formalized in an official handover ceremony in Yanqing, Beijing last month. The International Potato Center (CIP), based in Peru, and the Chinese government have a long history of cooperation that is fast approaching four decades. CCCAP is the first officially recognized international research institution in China. What started in 1978 as a gift of the hardy CIP-24 potato variety, germplasm well-suited to the needs of Chinese rural farmers, has now grown into a fully-integrated world-class agricultural research center focused on improving roots and tuber production in China and across East Asia and the Pacific. “This handover is a historic moment in a long and fruitful history between CIP and the government of China,” says Dr. Barbara Wells, CIP Director General. During the ceremony, Vice Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Qu Dongyu, announced the Chinese government’s generous donation of state-of-the art laboratory equipment valued at almost $3 million. More

Scientists around the world focus on zebra chip disease and potato tomato psyllid

Potato crisps exhibiting Zebra chipFor the past number of years, many potato researchers in several countries around the world have been focusing on the problem of zebra chip disease of potatoes, and the insect that transmit this disease to spud tubers, the potato tomato psyllid. Zebra chip became a serious problem for many potato growers and processors alike during the past few years in many potato producing countries, including North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Zebra chip is caused by the Liberibacter bacterium and spread by tiny, winged insects called potato psyllids – and it creates bands in tuber flesh that darken during frying. University of Idaho (UI) researchers are studying reflections of various light wavelengths off of zebra chip-infected potatoes, seeking to devise a quicker and more precise method of quantifying disease prevalence. Continue reading

Ebook published: ‘Potato virus Y – Biodiversity, pathogenicity, epidemiology and management’

This Springer publication is said to be a timely overview of several decades of research on PVY, one of the most important plant viruses that will appeal to a broad academic audience (universities, public and private funded institutions) and the wide agri-biotech industry (growers, agronomist, breeders, policy). The authors present the latest data (published and yet unpublished) obtained by collaborating scientists (all known as experts on the PVY pathosystem) from different countries worldwide (i.e. members of the PVY-Wide organization). Experts in the field of virology have gathered to present an exhaustive overview of disease symptoms caused by PVY, providing a reference for the laboratory and field scientists and academics. The authors present a roadmap for future PVY research integrating current widely used approaches and novel/emerging technologies that will shape the future of epidemiology, pathology and diagnostic research. 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 scientists and supermarkets working together to tackle potato greening problems

UK supermarkets and scientists are working together to find ways of reducing potato greening which costs the industry and retailers almost £100 million every year. Researchers at the James Hutton Institute have identified a genetic element to the problem which can mean a seven or eight fold variation in the amount of post-harvest greening. Tuber greening is directly linked to 116,000 tonnes of household potato waste and is estimated to cost UK retailers £60 million per annum.  Continue reading

Scotland: China invests £3m for new potato research lab in collaboration with James Hutton Institute

The announcement of £3 million towards a new international laboratory for scientists from Dundee and China underlines Scotland’s global reputation for potato research at the Potatoes in Practice (PiP) event. The Chinese Government and leading potato processing company,  Xisen Potato Group have committed the funds to a collaboration with James Hutton Limited (JHL) to breed new varieties and research resistance to pests and diseases, tuber storage and potato processing. The shared facility is likely to be located in China’s Shandong province. Continue reading

Potato bound polyphenols: A novel delivery method for gut health?

© iStock/ Frans RomboutThe ability of polyphenols to bind with different types of potato cells may provide a new means of delivering them to the gut, say researchers. When potato cells were treated with solutions of phenolic compounds, binding occurred between them, revealed researchers from Queensland University and the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology, Valencia. A vast increase in the binding interaction between the polysaccharides in the potatoes and three different polyphenols was seen when using cooked potato cells. However, significant binding also occurred in raw cells. The findings, published in the Journal of Functional Foods, could enable a novel method of delivering a combination of polyphenols and dietary fibre to the large intestine. Both types of compounds have been shown to exert beneficial effects on the human microbiota. “The obtained results suggest, for the first time, the potential of potato cells as encapsulation vehicles for phenolic compounds,” concluded the team. Full article on Nutraingredients.com

British potato industry unites to take on blackleg disease

Blackleg disease clearly visible on a potato plant

In a press release issued earlier today, it is announced that a group of major potato business and public sector organisations, including the Scottish Government and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), have sponsored a £242,000 research project aimed at reducing the impact of potato disease blackleg on the Scottish seed potato industry. AHDB and Scottish Government joint-funded a project during 2013-2016 which provided significant new information on blackleg and its origins. It also highlighted areas where further investigation is required for improved management of the problem. As a result, a second project will begin this September to identify the major routes of initial contamination of high-grade tubers and establish best practice for blackleg management. Sue Cowgill, Senior Crop Protection Scientist at AHDB said: “We hope that by determining the impact of post-harvest practices such as storage, grading and handling practices on the contamination of tubers we can set a platform for an industry-wide approach to tackling this disease. The research may also identify the potential for new and innovative control options as part of the blackleg management tool kit.”  Continue reading

Dutch organic sector unites against potato disease

On Tuesday morning, 25 Dutch organic potato breeders, growers, and big supermarket chains signed a unique agreement entitled “Expedited transition to more robust potato varieties”. With this agreement, the organic sector wants to find a sustainable solution for the devastating potato disease: Phytophthora. Bionext, the organic sector chain organisers took the initiative for this. The direct reason for the agreement is the large-scale damage this disease caused in 2016 to organically grown potatoes. Potatoes are prone to getting phytophthora and natural pesticides were found to be lacking. To speed up the process, the agreement partners have decided to give robust varieties preference in the breeding, growing and selling stages. In this way it will be possible to have 100% organic disease-resistant potatoes by 2020. More