‘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

Scottish seed potatoes said to flourish in Kenyan heat

Scottish seed potatoes sent to Kenya have performed strongly on three trial sites, AHDB has revealed. The farm levy organisation has been working with Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) to open the Kenyan market for GB seed potatoes since a bilateral agreement was signed by the Scottish and Kenyan governments in 2016. Well-known British varieties were exported to Kenya and planted on three different farms to assess the yield and quality of each. Cara had the strongest performance with average yields across all three farms at more than 20 tonnes per acre. AHDB said the yields were similar to those achieved in Britain, but much higher than those normally achieved by farmers in Kenya who typically experience yields of around 4tonnes per acre. This is blamed on the fact that 95% of farmers in the country use poor quality home-saved seed, rather than high-quality imported seed. More

Germicopa expects big growth in potato seed sales

Florimond Desprez, the general director of potato seed and breeding company Germicopa, expects that the company’s seed sales will grow in the near future to reach 80,000 tonnes by 2020/21, up from 63,000 tonnes last year. Germicopa is established in Bretagne, France and part of the Florimond Desprez Group. According to Florimond Desprez, “Traditionally, Germicopa focused on salad potatoes. Examples of this are Charlotte, Chérie and Amandine. Now we are also turning to other markets and developing potato varieties not only for the fresh market but also for industrial processing. Daisy is used to make French fries and Amyla is well developed on the starch market, notably in France where it is the number one variety.” During the Fruit Logistica, Germicopa put their organic varieties in the spotlight. Germicopa seed potatoes are produced by its own network of producers (c.180 growers in France). The company markets seed in 70 countries. More

Potato growers rejoice as Indonesia extends Australian seed potato access

Indonesia extends Australian seed potato accessThe Indonesian market beckons for Australian seed potato farmers, after market access to the South East Asian nation was extended today (16 February Indonesian/Australian time). The deal paves the way for suppliers from Victoria and South Australia to commence trade immediately. “This is a fantastic result for farmers in these two states — as major seed potato producers — and builds on current seed potato access for Western Australia,” explained Australian minister for agriculture and water resources, David Littleproud. “The export protocol has been on the boil for a while and today we finally got it over the line – this will take an industry with a current production value of A$520.3m, to new heights.” (Source: Fruitnet)

North American potato experts share ideas on the importance of healthy seed

Ideal growing conditions, optimum fertility, pest and disease control – all these things are crucial to ensure a high-yielding, healthy potato crop. But before the seed goes in the ground, it’s crucial growers ensure the seed they’re planting is as healthy as possible. Spud Smart magazine gathered 5 expert opinions on why it’s important potato growers plant the best seed they can get their hands on. “Seed is the cornerstone of potato production,” notes Steven Johnson, crops specialist and extension professor at the University of Maine. “The same production costs are put into a crop from poor seed as in a crop from good seed, but the yields can be drastically different.” Michel Camps, commercial potato grower in southern Alberta, has developed good relationships with his seed growers. “I usually make a point to go and visit my seed growers,” he says. “That gives me a good idea about what size profile we’re dealing with. Also, it’s a good time to check the seed to ensure there aren’t any disease issues.” More

Idaho potato company wants to bring more organic potatoes to market

Everything Potatoes, Inc. is the brain child of Sandy Bragg, president, and husband Jeff Bragg, vice president, whose mission is to offer a healthier potato option as far and wide as possible while still being involved in every stage of development. The organic potato market has been a growing niche market the last few years as people gravitate towards organics for better health and flavor. Everything Potatoes, Inc. offers a colorful mix of seed potato and fresh potato varieties, from Russian banana to Rose Finn Apple fingerlings to Huckleberry Gold. Their ultimate goal is to grow potatoes for the school system for a low price, as well as promote the idea of knowing where food comes from. The company needs the public’s votes to earn a grant that would help them expand their business tremendously. More

Canadian bred potato varieties in the spotlight at annual event

Using a combination of traditional crop breeding techniques, as well as new and emerging technologies, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) releases to the marketplace 10 – 15 new potato selections annually. These annual releases have been carefully chosen from a starting population that may number 120,000 new seedlings. On February 14, these selections will be presented to the Canadian potato industry and others with an interest in new Canadian varieties. The event will take place simultaneously at three locations across Canada when visitors will be able to follow presentations by breeders and other industry specialists via video link, and also view this year’s selections on location. Locations and times can be found on the website of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The full programme is available from Andrea Dilworth: andrea.dilworth@agr.gc.ca 

HZPC to venture into the export of true potato seed?

According to a news report published yesterday on the Dutch agriculture website Agf.nl, potato seed breeder and supplier of seed and ware potatoes, HZPC, intends to export true potato seed (TPS) in the near future. The company, based in the Netherlands with subsidiaries in several other countries, reportedly see opportunities for the export of true potato seed to countries in particularly the Central African region as well as Asian countries where strict sanitary plant regulations are in place. According to the report, it is expected that the trade in true potato seed might in time ‘even surpass traditional seed potato trade’ in these countries. Source: AGF report (in Dutch).

UK: Seed potato suppliers to retail market see 10-15% sales increase

Accord seed potatoes - image: JBATaylor’s Bulbs says seed potato sales are 10-15% up following the decision by Westland/Unwins and Thompson & Morgan to pull out of the 2018 garden centre seed potato supply market. Taylor’s director Adam Taylor says seed potato sales have started already. JBA Seed Potatoes completed the outright purchase of the Westlands/Unwins seed potato business as of 8 August 2017. JBA’s Iain Barbour said: “Yes, they will be up a good 10-15% as we supply them and we are an easy 15-20% up on last years trade with us taking Unwins over. “We have picked up trade from wholesalers and major retail outlets. (Source: HortucultureWeek)

Governor’s proposed budget excludes funding for new Idaho seed potato facility

Matt Roth, left, the greenhouse manager for the University of Idaho’s nuclear potato seed program, and the program’s manager, Jenny Durrin, work on mini-tuber production in this file photo. University of Idaho plans to build a new $5.5 million nuclear seed potato facility but Gov. Butch Otter’s proposed 2019 budget does not include $3 million in state funding sought by the university. Idaho Gov. Butch Otter’s proposed fiscal year 2019 budget does not include the $3 million in state funds for a new nuclear seed potato facility sought by the University of Idaho’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. CALS officials had requested $3 million in state funding to help build a new $5.5 million nuclear seed potato facility, which maintains disease-free germplasm and mini-tubers for seed potato growers and researchers. The rest of the money would come from industry partners. The governor’s budget was released Jan. 8 and UI officials had hoped to see their request recommended in the budget. But Otter did not recommend that legislators meet the request. A new facility would provide the ability needed to significantly ramp up the program’s production capacity as well as improve quality control, said CALS Dean Michael Parrella. The facility produces about 250,000 plantlets a year but “the demand from the growers in Idaho is more than two times that and we really don’t have the capacity right now to do that,” he said. More

Potatoes USA Seed Export Program underway for 2018

Image result for potatoes usaEfforts are underway to plant field trials of U.S. seed varieties in Myanmar, Morocco and Guatemala in early 2018.  Potatoes USA purchases U.S. seed potatoes from U.S. growers in multiple states to provide up to a dozen different varieties to each target market which are suitable for their warm climates and have high resistance to common potato diseases. Funding for these trials is primarily from USDA grants to promote U.S. agricultural exports to emerging markets. The first of the three shipments arrived in Myanmar in early December and will be planted during the second half of January 2018 in the main potato growing area of the Shan State.  Continue reading

NL: Agrico presents record results at members’ meeting

Agrico held its central general members’ meeting last week. At this well-attended meeting, the annual report 2016/2017 was discussed. In a press release, the potato cooperative says the 2016/2017 financial year will be noted as one of the most successful years in Agrico’s history. Never before has Agrico marketed such a high volumes of seed potatoes, and could pay out such high dividends to members for both seed and table potatoes. The consolidated turnover rose by more than 20 million euros to reach 289 million euros. The national and international subsidiaries accounted for 30% of the turnover. The increased turnover can be fully attributed to the seed potato product group. The demand for Agrico’s seed potato varieties was strong in all sales regions and growth in the processing industry was also capitalised on to the full. More