Scottish seed potato exporters eyeing new market in Kenya

AHDB says there is a 'real opportunity' for exporting potato varieties to Kenya. Picture: ContributedScottish seed potato growers may have another export market in the future following successful growing trials in Kenya. It follows a concerted effort by the Agricultural & Horticultural Development Board (AHDB) and Science & Advice for Scottish Agriculture to open up the African market. AHDB’s Rob Burns said: “Before commercial growers can access the market, trial seed needs to be tested and grown over two seasons in at least three geographical locations in Kenya. Fortunately in Kenya there are two growing seasons annually so we hope to reach the end of this process, and open up the market fully, by early 2018.” Ten varieties have been sent for trialing; four free varieties – Hermes, Atlantic, Cara and Russet Burbank – and six commercial varieties provided by the James Hutton Institute. The varieties selected are processing varieties which are expected to thrive in hot, dry conditions. (Source: The Scotsman)

High hopes for British seed potatoes in Kenya

Official potato trial seed sent to Kenya has passed initial lab tests and is now growing well in three locations. AHDB and SASA have been working together to open the Kenyan market to GB seed with a bilateral agreement signed by the Scottish and Kenyan governments late last year. Since then, there has been a significant amount of work behind the scenes to transport, test and plant seed on Kenyan farms. AHDB’s Head of Crops Export Market Development, Rob Burns, explains: “Before commercial growers can access the market trial seed needs to be tested and grown over two seasons in at least three geographical locations in Kenya. Fortunately in Kenya there are two growing seasons annually so we hope to reach the end of this process, and open up the market fully, by early 2018. Potatoes are the second most important food crop in Kenya after maize with about 2-3 million tonnes of potatoes grown annually. The real opportunity in Kenya is in the burgeoning middle class; there is a growing market for premium potato-based products such as crisps and chips, and for these they need the high quality seed for which we are renowned.” Continue reading

East-West Seed: Public-private partnership seen to boost Thailand’s global seed sector ranking

At a high-level dialogue with government officials including Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives General Chatchai Sarikulya and other key policy makers, leading vegetable seed company East-West Seed expressed support to the Thai government in improving the country’s global seed sector ranking, where it currently holds 32nd place among 62 economies. Mr Bert van der Feltz, CEO of East-West Seed, cited the 2017 World Bank study “Enabling the Business of Agriculture” (EBA), which measures and compares countries’ laws and regulations that impact the business environment for agriculture. In terms of seed sector development, Thailand lags behind its ASEAN neighbor the Philippines (ranked #11) and ranks closely to Myanmar (#34) and Vietnam (#42). The Netherlands, a global seed industry powerhouse, tops the list followed by Spain and Denmark.  Continue reading

Canada: Quebec eyes seed potato export to Latin America and Caribbean

Over the past few decades the Canadian Provinces Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Alberta have exported a considerable amount of seed potatoes from Canada to Latin America and the Caribbean, but this has decreased substantially. More recently, a couple of seed potato companies from Quebec, together with the Centre de Recherche Les Buissons (CRLB) have started an initiative to export high quality seed potatoes to Latin America and the Caribbean. Progest 2001 Inc, a private research and development agricultural company based in Sainte Croix, Quebec has been given the mandate to promote Quebec’s seed potatoes in Latin America and the Caribbean. More

Research project focused on ideal transport conditions for potatoes

In the export of potatoes, there are many different ways of setting up reefer containers, and each expert has his own vision. But only a few wonder why a certain set-up is chosen. Agroplant in the Netherlands did ask that question. The answer could not be given in just one sentence. “There are so many discussions about the best set-up for the containers,” says Joris van der Lee from Agroplant. “Everyone has a different opinion about the ideal set-up.” The opinions of various, independent experts were even so far apart that Agroplant started asking: what is actually the correct set up? In collaboration with Leo Lukasse from Wageningen Food & Biobased Research, part of Wageningen University & Research, a research project was launched to look closely at container ventilation. More

Battle plans for potato disease management

What is the best approach to disease management at planting — seed treatments or in-furrow applications? Or is this really a question about what crop protectant is being applied to manage certain reoccurring, problematic disease like rhizoctonia or fusarium dry rot? Or is keeping diseases at bay more to do with the variety, quality and health of the seed, the location of the field, the water, climate and soil conditions or the length of rotation? All good questions, but with the uncertainty growers face at planting each year, there’s likely a hundred more. That’s why companies like Miller Research in Rupert, Idaho, are hunting down the answers to all the early season potato production questions and many more. Earlier this year, Miller Research President and CEO Jeff Miller presented his company’s recent findings at an annual potato pest management seminar near Rupert, Idaho. More

Australia: Perfect potatoes go to waste over psyllid pest

Potato farmers Trevor Barker and Colin Ayres with potatoes destined to become cattle feed.Seed potato growers have started dumping the first of their perfectly good potatoes as interstate borders remain closed after the detection of the tomato potato psyllid pest in WA. Albany grower Trevor Barker said he had fed around 60 tonnes to his cattle and had another 250 tonnes which would likely follow in coming weeks. His neighbour, Colin Ayres, who is president of the WA Seed Potato Growers Association, expects he will need to dump his first batch within two weeks from a total 1500 tonnes stockpiled. Seed potatoes are worth between $650 and $1100 a tonne, depending on variety. Growers would also soon need to decide whether to plant a crop for next year amid the uncertainty about whether their produce could be sent interstate. More

Potatoes grown from Dutch seeds may save Africa from hunger

Potatoes grown from Dutch seeds yield two to four times bigger harvests for small-scale, poor farmers in East Africa than potatoes grown using local seed potatoes. These findings are the result of initial tests using experimental varieties grown from potato seeds by Wageningen-based agro-tech company Solynta in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As such, potatoes grown from seeds may prove to be an effective means to provide not only the growing population of Africa, but also those of India, Bangladesh and China with more and better food, and thus contributes to reducing hunger. For several years now, Solynta has been working on breeding potatoes grown from the actual seeds of potato plants. This method allows one to develop new varieties of potatoes faster, varieties that are better able to withstand potato blights, in turn making the use of pesticides obsolete. More

US: Uncertainty for seed growers

By Mike Telford – Chairman, UPGA Seed Division. Commodity prices are in the tank. Fresh table-stock potato returns in the West are a disaster; returns are below production cost for the fifth year in a row. Red and Yellow-potato prices are good but growers generally had a disaster on the farm side like what happened in the Red River Valley with heavy rains last summer. Fresh table-stock prices are higher in areas where United chapters actively pursue the market. Frozen-process contracts remain unsettled with negotiations swirling around from flat to down prices, and acres to be planted remain uncertain. All of this in spite of strong demand and finished product prices being up. Process growers nowadays not only have to know the volume and price of their contracts, but increasingly are uncertain about which variety they will need to grow for their customers. Net farm income is down which means farmers are once again farming their equity. Add to all of this the fact that potatoes are perhaps the highest input-cost crop grown, and also the crop with the highest risk. Is it any wonder there is a lot of uncertainty with seed growers’ customers? What is the seed grower to do? Continue reading

China: First batch of US seed potatoes to arrive in Jining next month

The office for Inspection and Quarantine in Jining city (Shandong province), recently handled papers regarding the import of seed potatoes for a local agricultural company. The formalities having been dealt with, the first batch should arrive in Jining in March. “These imports are one of the very first introductions of American seed potatoes into China in recent years.” A relevant staff member explains that the agricultural science company is situated in the city’s Wenshang county and that the CEO of the company is a Chinese-American person. Introducing foreign seed tubers at this time is mainly in order to find suitable acres to grow potatoes of excellent quality in the future. More

US: Interpreting post-harvest test results

Seed certification is a quality control program that consists of a number of components intended to ensure that specified quality standards are met. One of the more important of these components is post-harvest testing. Post-harvest testing may consist of an off-season grow-out in the field or greenhouse, laboratory testing, or some combination of these. The vast majority of Idaho seed lots are post-harvest tested in a winter grow-out conducted in Waialua, Hawaii. This grow-out consists of a visual assessment of grower-submitted samples for  potato leaf roll virus and a laboratory test of harvested leaves for potato virus Y (PVY). While the process of post-harvest testing and the reporting of results is relatively straightforward, we do occasionally receive questions about why reported post-harvest test results differ from what is observed in the field the following season. This has been a particular issue with PVY levels observed in some seed lots. Why does this occur? More

New disease crosses the Atlantic

Soon after their spuds were planted in 2014, some growers in the northeastern United States knew they had a problem. Much of the crop didn’t even emerge. Growers were looking at stands of only 40 percent, said Steve Johnson, an Extension crops specialist with the University of Maine. Soon, wilting and blackleg-like symptoms began to appear in affected fields. But this didn’t act like regular blackleg. The mystery pathogen was more aggressive. “It looked like blackleg on steroids,” Johnson said. It turned out to be dickeya dianthicola, a seedborne pathogen that’s new to the North American potato industry but has bedeviled European growers for decades. During the past two years the disease has been detected in several states, mostly in the Northeast. D. dianthicola has caused significant losses to some commercial spud growers in the region, Johnson said. In some cases, farmers have left entire fields unharvested. More

First UK deposit in Global Seed Vault

The Commonwealth Potato Collection (CPC), an invaluable repository of potato germplasm held in trust by the James Hutton Institute with support from the Scottish Government, is set to make the first deposit of plant genetic material by a UK institution into the Global Seed Vault. The deposit is built in accordance with the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and the Convention on Biological Diversity. Situated inside a sandstone mountain on the island of Spitsbergen, halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, the Global Seed Vault at Svalbard is the world’s largest collection of crop diversity. It constitutes a fail-safe seed storage facility built to stand the test of time and protect invaluable genetic resources from possible future catastrophic global environmental events. More

Late blight resistant potato variety gaining popularity in Bangladesh

Late blight resistant potato variety Sarpo Mira gaining popularity in Bangladesh The potato variety Sarpo Mira, highly resistant to late blight, is getting popular among farmers in the main potato-growing areas of Bangladesh, due to its higher output, said farmers and officials. Potato growers can get 38-42 percent more output at considerably 20 percent lower costs by cultivating the late blight resistant potato variety Sarpo Mira, they said. Giant Agro Processing Ltd (GAPL), a sister concern of Giant Group, imported and developed the seeds for local farmers, said its officials in a recent field visit in Thakurgaon. Four varieties were imported by Giant Agro Processing Ltd in 2011 from Denmark-based Danespo under a joint venture (JV) in a DANIDA (Danish International Development Agency) B2B- supported programme. Chairman of Giant Group Feroz M Hassan said the fungal infection called ‘late blight’ wreaks havoc on potato production each year and sometimes farmers lose 25 to 57 percent of their yield. More

University of Idaho to grow nuclear potato seed program

Matt Roth, left, the new greenhouse manager for the University of Idaho’s nuclear potato seed program, and the program’s manager, Jenny Durrin, work on mini-tuber production. Durrin was recently hired and Roth was recently made full-time, and UI has plans to expand the program’s production.   University of Idaho has hired a new director for its nuclear seed potato program and plans to build additional facilities to help her expand production. The planned investments; which include construction of a new greenhouse and laboratory; would move the university toward its long-term goal of becoming a national repository for potato germplasm. Jenny Durrin filled the director position vacated when Lorie Ewing retired last July. She conducted research in potato virus Y resistance in common Idaho cultivars while obtaining her masters degree in plant science under UI virologist Alex Karasev, and she spent two years studying pale cyst nematode at the university. UI also promoted a part-time worker, Matt Roth, to be the program’s full-time greenhouse manager. The self-sufficient nuclear seed program maintains more than 300 potato crosses; including experimental lines, public and private varieties and the Potato Variety Management Institute’s entire collection. Capital Press report

Bangladesh: Disease-resistant Danish potato seed getting popular for higher yield

Danish potato seed variety Sarpo Mira, highly resistant to the deadly late blight disease, is getting popular among farmers of the Bangladesh potato-growing hubs due to its higher output, said farmers and officials. The growers can get 38-42 per cent more output at considerably 20 per cent lower costs by cultivating the Danish let-blight resistant potato variety Sarpo Mira, they said. Giant Agro Processing Ltd (GAPL), a sister concern of Giant Group, imported and developed the seeds for local farmers, said its officials in a recent field visit in Thakurgaon.  Four varieties were imported by GAPL in 2011 from Denmark-based Danespo under a joint venture (JV) in a DANIDA (Danish International Development Agency) B2B- supported programme. After trials by the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), two varieties — Sarpo Mira (BARI Alu-77) and Folva — were approved by the government, said Business Development Manager of GAPL ATM Majharul Mannan. “The two varieties have been showing excellent result in terms of per hectare yield, size, quality and production cost in the northern districts,” he said. More

Potatoes USA plants third seed potato trial in Myanmar

burmaPotatoes USA has just completed the planting of a third seed variety trial in the Southeast Asian country of Myanmar (also known as Burma). The purpose of this USDA-funded trial is to establish field data of US varieties for government registration in Myanmar. Peter Joyce, Potatoes USA International Seed Representative, provided technical assistance to demonstrate seed cutting techniques and planted a replicated trial during the week of January 16th, 2017. US seed potato varieties planted include: Cal White, Atlantic, Megachip, Yukon Gem, Defender, Hodag, Nicolet, Pinnacle and Granola.   Rey Santella, the Agricultural Attaché from the American Office of Agricultural affairs visited the planting site to learn about the project. For varieties to be registered, they need to show higher yield in trials than the control variety Kufri Jyoti, the predominate locally-planted variety, in three regional sites. If this US seed variety trial is successful, as expected, to outperform yields of Kufri Jyoti, registration will allow for commercial sales of U.S. seed to Myanmar. Harvest of the trial is expected in April/May. (Source: Potato Bytes, published weekly by the Northern Plains Potato Growers Assn)

US: New Northwest spuds offer strong disease resistance

Jeanne Debons, executive director of the Potato Variety Management Institute, with potato varieties under her organization’s management at the recent University of Idaho Potato Conference in Pocatello, Idaho. PVMI is releasing two new varieties — Castle Russet and Echo Russet.Officials representing the Idaho, Oregon and Washington potato breeding programs say they’re releasing a pair of new russet varieties that should help position the industry to cope with more stringent regulations on soil fumigants. The new Tri-State Potato Breeding Program varieties — Castle Russet and high-yielding Echo Russet — are billed as medium- to late-maturing potatoes appropriate for use in both the fresh market and processing. Testing has shown they also have good culinary qualities and cold sweetening resistance, so they fry with a light color even after months in storage. The Potato Variety Management Institute decided to release them in December, said PVMI Executive Director Jeanne Debons. She said a limited number of mini-tubers — those grown from tissue cultures — are available to interested seed growers. Debons said Echo and Castle are resistant to potato mop-top virus, vectored by the hard-to-control powdery scab fungus. As regulators place increasing restrictions on fumigants, mop-top is becoming more prevalent. Capital Press report

Scottish institute contributes rare potato seeds to global seed vault

Image result for rare potato varietiesA global seed vault designed to protect resources from future environmental catastrophes has received the first genetic potato material from the UK. The seeds are part of the Commonwealth Potato Collection (CPC) based at the James Hutton Institute near Dundee. The material will be stored at the Global Seed Vault, which is housed in a mountain on an island halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. The CPC was established in the 1930s by British botanists and collectors. It is one of seven large potato genetic banks in the world and aims to safeguard the genetic diversity of the crop. BBC report

Euro-Potato: UK seed potato exports show signs of recovery

So far this season, total seed exports from the UK are up 14% year-on-year, helped by a rebound in sales to Egypt compared to 2015/16. The 2015/16 season saw a 24% year-on-year decline in seed potato exports, according to data from HM Revenue & Customs. Countries such as Spain and the Netherlands decreased the amount of seed potato they imported from the UK (by 53% and 16% respectively). Egypt is the largest single recipient of exported seed potatoes from the UK, taking up to 70% of all seed exports each year. In 2014/15 Egypt imported over 59,000 tonnes of UK seed potatoes, this fell to around 49,500 tonnes in 2015/16. Their Government’s decision to reduce the size specification for imported seed from a maximum size of 60mm, to 55mm in August 2015 meant that many UK growers who were growing seed for the Egyptian market had a much larger proportion of “tops” than normal. Driven mainly by a rebound of 18% in the volume of seed exports to Egypt so far this season, total seed exports are up nearly 6,000 tonnes year on year, with November’s exports, at almost 43,300 tonnes, the highest for the month of November in five years. More

Jamaica: Industry strives to supply 100% of local potato seed demand in three years

The agricultural sector is striving to is reduce their dependency on imported Irish potato seeds and to supply 100% of local demand within the next three years. This was noted by Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Karl Samuda, in an interview with JIS News at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the in vitro propagation of Irish potato seeds programme yesterday at the Ministry’s New Kingston offices. The minister pointed out that the country spends over US$4 million annually to import 90 per cent of Irish potato seeds, and that the programme is a “step in the right direction” towards achieving self-sufficiency. “We are seeking now to move from 85 per cent production against the demand to 100 per cent. I am hoping we can do that within three years,” Samuda said. More

Jamaica: $18-m project to cut need for imported Irish potato seeds

The Government has pumped more than $18 million into the establishment of an in vitro propagation of Irish potato seeds programme in a bid to reduce the country’s dependence on imported seeds. The Government is also hoping that the programme will increase the yields of Irish potato farmers across the island. The project, which is a component of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries’ National Irish Potato Development Programme, will be implemented with the assistance of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), the Scientific Research Council (SRC), and the Northern Caribbean University (NCU). Under the project, three laboratories at the SRC, the Government-operated Bodles Research Station and the Northern Caribbean University will be propagating first-generation Irish potato seeds through tissue culture. More

US: New potato insecticide/fungicide seed treatment announced

Image result for syngentaSyngenta has announced CruiserMaxx Vibrance Potato insecticide/fungicide seed treatment is now available for purchase, following its registration by EPA. It contains Vibrance fungicide seed treatment, which includes the active ingredient Sedaxane and is a new tool for potato growers. In addition to Sedaxane, the other active ingredients in the seed treatment include Thiamethoxam, Fludioxonil, and Difenoconazole. CruiserMaxx Vibrance Potato combines fungicides to combat Rhizoctonia, Helminthosporium and Fusarium. Cruiser insecticide seed treatment provides protection against insects, including Colorado potato beetles, aphids, potato leafhopper, and potato psyllid. It also delivers the Cruiser Vigor Effect, which is said to be an increased level of plant vigor. The seed treatment aids in wound healing and suberization, and has good handling and application characteristics in all temperatures and treating conditions, according to Syngenta. It also has low dust off without the need for additional polymers or additives. (Source: Growing Produce)

Colorado seed potatoes move into the international market

KayDee GilkeyOne of my favorite parts of participating in the Potato Expo each year is connecting with potato industry folks. For 17 years, the Colorado Certified Potato Growers has participated with a booth at the Potato Expo. I asked Manager Preston Stanley what difference the participation has made for Colorado seed potato growers. Stanley: “It is an awareness for our area and it’s an awareness for potatoes. People think there is only one kind of potato. We grow over 100 different varieties with that comes exposure. If you know how the market is at right now — the specialty market is where it is at. We have at least 70 different specialty potatoes that people can look at and enjoy.” He said one of the most popular specialty varieties is the Harvest Moon which is a purple-skinned potato with a yellow flesh. Stanley continues with an update of where Colorado certified seed potatoes are grown across the county and now internationally. More