After the success of the 2016 event, the Seed Industry Event will return to Fairmont, St Andrews on 15 November this year. The event will have a major theme focusing on how what the future may hold for the seed trade in a post-Brexit world and how to make the most of the global export market opportunities Brexit will present. Furthermore, a host of international experts will also discuss other key topics such as plant health, exports, and marketing. Great Britain’s seed’s high health status is one of its main selling points, which is why that status is another major theme of this year’s event. The conference will also feature a number of workshops where the latest research on key topics such as blackleg and aphid and virus will be revealed, and there will also be sessions on the Safe Haven Scheme and the benefits of benchmarking. Visit the AHDB Potatoes website for full information and registration details
Argentine authorities have officially approved the commercialization of a genetically modified PVY-resistant potato variety. The transgenic potato, named TIC-AR233-5, will help growers avoid losses from the virus. The virus can result in yield declines of up to 70%, according to Argentina-based Tecnoplant, which holds the marketing license. The potato will also help growers to use fewer agrochemicals in its cultivation, the company said. The Health and Agri-Food Quality National Service, Senasa, said the product complies with all the necessary requirements, according to La Nación. According to Andrés Murchison, Secretary for Food and Bioeconomy, the new potato could help growers to reduce handling costs and could also boost the quality of the final product. It is expected that regulatory processes for other GMO crops will continue to be optimized in the future, said Murchinson. Read more. Report by Technoplant in Spanish.
A letter circulated to industry stakeholders signed jointly by Defra and Scottish Government has made it clear that exports to EU countries would stop immediately with a no-deal Brexit. It says bluntly: “The European Commission has stated that without an agreement seed potatoes will not be marketable in the EU.” Annual seed potato exports from Scotland are normally stated as totaling between 70,000 and 80,000 tonnes but critically that does not include the 25,000 to 30,000 tonnes which goes to EU countries with Spain and Ireland the major customers. To add salt to the wounds of Scottish producers it seems that there are no plans to restrict the flow in the opposite direction. The seed potato sector may have well justified fears over Brexit but leaving the EU could open up opportunities for the potato industry as a whole according to David Swales of AHDB. Read Farmers Guardian article
The Kenyan government says it will provide certified potato seed to farmers in Meru County to assist improve food security. Agriculture and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri expressed fears that the general uptake of certified potato seeds by farmers was still low despite efforts to encourage use of quality seeds. He noted that government and private potato farming experts were willing to provide knowledge necessary for uplifting potato farming in all parts of the country. He said that only 18 percent of farmers in Meru County are using certified potato seed. He stated that government wants to raise the quantity of certified seeds from 6,000 metric tons to 400,000 metric tons to help cut the high cost of seed on the market. The door has been opened for UK seed potato producers to export to Kenya. A delegation from Kenya recently visited Prince Edward Island in Canada to help develop their important crop back home. Read more
A centre for excellence for potato-seed is all set to become a reality in India’s Gujarat province, through a collaboration between Indian and Dutch companies. The setting up of the centre for excellence is being facilitated by the Netherlands Business Support Office (NBSO), with a view to helping produce better quality potatoes which will help improve the marketable yield of potatoes. “We aim to produce better quality seed-potato with the use of latest technology and innovative farming processes. This will not just improve the quality of seed potatoes for the farmers of Gujarat but also help improve the yield,” said Alphonsus Stoelinga, the ambassador of the Kingdom of Netherlands to India, who was in Ahmedabad at the kick-start ceremony of Gujarat Seed Valley Federation (GSVF). “We will start a pilot project through collaboration between a Gujarat-based firm and a Dutch company,” said Amlan Bora, Trade and Investment Commissioner of Netherlands to Gujarat. Read more
A number of US potato growers visited Morocco recently to see how US potato varieties were performing in that country. The growers were convinced that the varieties are doing well in Morocco, and growers are excited to get more official data after the full harvest, which will happen soon. Attendees also visited the fields and storage facilities of several growers who attended the Potatoes USA International Seed Symposium and Reverse Trade Mission in August 2017. Hopes remain high that Morocco will quickly approve the U.S. Pest Risk Assessment and variety registration. Seed growers who attended included Dennis Bula of Wisconsin, Jim Behrens of Minnesota, Carl Hoverson of North Dakota, and Amy Burdett and Peter Joyce from Potatoes USA. For any questions about the trip or the Potatoes USA Seed Program, please contact Amy Burdett at Amy@PotatoesUSA.com.
In a research paper published recently online in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, scientists from Hefei Institute of Physical Science in China claim they have developed a nano-material that inhibits the sprouting of potatoes. The material is named “hydrophobic nano silica” (H-SiO2) and was developed through the modification of nano silica by amino silicon oil (ASO) – and then applied as a sprout inhibitor on potato tubers. The researchers say the material suppresses the formation of toxic glyco-alkaloids that typically is associated with the sprouting process. They further claim that treated tubers did not show a negative effect as far as germination is concerned when planted as seed. The material is said to be easily removed by washing prior to cooking since it does not penetrate the skin of tubers and thus does not pose a food safety risk. Although not commercialized at this point in time, the new material does seem to be of interest to those who specializes in potato sprout inhibitors. An abstract of the research and contact details can be found on the website of the ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering journal.
Around the world, blackleg of potato is caused by several species of bacteria that can be carried and transmitted through seed tubers. Potatoes Australia spoke to Agriculture Victoria Research Scientist Dr Rachel Mann and ViCSPA General Manager Dr Nigel Crump about the identification and management of the blackleg disease. The main causal agent of blackleg in Australia is Pectobacterium atrosepticum although another bacterium known as Dickeya dianthicola was discovered in Western Australia in 2017. Dr Rachel Mann has been assisting with the traceback of the disease. “Blackleg is something that people can readily identify in the field, although it is not possible to determine which bacteria is causing it,” Dr Mann said. Seed tubers are the most important source of inoculum in the blackleg disease cycle. Therefore, management of the disease largely relies on the use of certified seed. “Due to the use of clean seed, blackleg is not very prevalent in Australia,” said Dr Nigel Crumm. Read full article on p20 of the June/July issue of Potatoes Australia
Jamie Rankin is one of the largest growers in Ireland. Recently, a Kenyan delegation had visited him to learn how the Irish grow their potatoes, with farmers harvesting up to 50 tonnes per hectare. To grow seeds, he buys tissue-culture seedlings from Tops. Gerry Doherty, a manager at Tops, says with the advancement of science, testing of seed tubers to ensure freedom from especially viral diseases has become an integral part of their certification scheme. Rankin’s potatoes and those from other farmers across the country have a ready market at several factories, including Keogh’s Crisps a potato processor based in North Dublin. IPM Potato Group is working on bringing the Irish potato technology to Kenya. Read more
The door has been opened for UK seed potato producers to export to Kenya after three British varieties were recommended for release in the country. The announcement follows trials involving AHDB, James Hutton Ltd, SASA and Seeds2B Africa (part of the Syngenta Foundation). Ten potato varieties were tested at three separate farms over two seasons with free variety Cara, and two James Hutton Ltd varieties, Gemson and Lady Balfour, making the grade. Already about two to three million tonnes of potatoes are grown annually in Kenya, making it the country’s most important food crop after maize, however most farmers use home-saved seed and achieve yields as low as 10t per hectare. Jonathan Snape, head of James Hutton Ltd, added: “We are delighted that two of the varieties we bred for Greenvale AP and Grampian Growers have performed so well in these trials and we will be engaging with representatives of the Kenyan potato industry in order to open up this potentially important new export market. Read more
E.W. Gaze Seeds Co. in St Johns Newfoundland and Phytocultures Ltd. based in Prince Edward Island are working together to bring new types of potatoes to Newfoundland and Labrador from Chile in South America. E.W. Gaze Seeds Co. specializes in selling “high-quality vegetable and flower seeds,” according to the company’s website. Recently the store started giving away free samples of Chilean potato varieties (supplied by Phytocultures) to local gardeners who will plant the potatoes and see if they will grow well enough in the rather harsh local conditions. The sample potato seeds soon ran out due to eager demand. The new type of potatoes were developed by plant propagation specialist Don Northcott, who founded Phytocultures in 1986. Continue reading
British seed potato producers are considering Cuba as an export destination after recent meetings with government officials in the country. While British producers are technically able to export to Cuba they have not been able to take advantage of this market due to a lack of awareness on how to get products into the country. However, fresh discussions have led to the development of a clear process for exporting product into Cuba. Presently, Cuba currently imports 17,000 tonnes of seed mainly from the Netherlands and France. Canada used to be a supplier but in recent years European sources have been preferred. According to Rob Burns, AHDB Heads of Crops Export, Britain is looked on favourably by the Cuban Government due to a high health status. If growers are interested in nominating crops for Cuban exports they are urged to compile a list to send to SASA by the end of June, and SASA will work with Cuba’s export company Alimport to identify Cuban companies looking for British seed. Read more
A survey was undertaken in Scotland to monitor seed and ware tuber production in Scotland for the presence of Dickeya spp., in support of Scottish legislation introduced in 2010, which established a “nil” tolerance for Dickeya infections in seed crops. This survey was risk-based and targeted stocks which held the greatest risk of carrying or contracting the disease. This survey was carried out in conjunction with the annual tuber surveys for Clavibacter michiganensis ssp. sepedonicus (potato ring rot) and Ralstonia solanacearum (brown rot) to comply with EU Commission Directives 2006/56/EC and 2006/63/EC, which requires member states to survey their potato production for the presence of these bacterial quarantine pathogens. A total of 212 samples were tested. Dickeya spp was not detected in any of the samples. Read more
U.S. fresh and seed potatoes from all U.S. states are now permitted entry into Guatemala, a welcome expansion of market access from only one permitted state four years ago. On May 14, 2018, the USDA confirmed simplified phytosanitary certificate requirements that eliminate previous state-by-state limitations. Potatoes USA worked closely with the USDA to fully open Guatemala to U.S. table-, chip- and seed-stock potatoes. The small Central American country is a target market for Potatoes USA promotion programs. Potatoes USA hosted a Guatemalan plant health official in 2017 to attend the International Seed Symposium. In 2017, Guatemala imported over 24,000 metric tons of U.S. potatoes and potato products, valued at $27.5 million, making it the U.S. potato industry’s 13th-largest market globally. (Source: Potatogrower)
Dutch potato cooperative Agrico says it has managed to expand its market share “in all markets” as prices for seed potatoes continue to improve towards the end of the current season. With strengthening demand for chipped potatoes (french fries) in north-west Europe and a good balance between supply and demand in overseas markets – despite certain political and financial challenges – the group informed its member producers that the 2017 harvest would generate an average benchmark price of €260 per tonne for all sizes and classes, higher than originally anticipated at the start of the current commercial campaign. “At the beginning of the season, at the transition from the old to the new harvest, it became clear that the supply of ware potatoes within the European Union exceeded demand with a low price level as a result,” the company reported. Managing director Jan van Hoogen said the group was satisfied with the latest result. More