Dutch company Solynta claims that it developed blight resistant potato varieties

Foto ANPIt is widely reported in the Dutch press today that potato breeding company Solynta in the Netherlands has developed potato varieties that are resistant to potato late blight (Phytophthora). The varieties will be introduced to the public during a field day held by the company at its premises in Wageningen, the Netherlands later this week (Aug 23). Late blight is responsible for losses to farmers in the order of around € 10 billion worldwide, despite intensive use of pesticides. In the Netherlands, the cost for the almost ninety thousand potato growers is estimated at € 150 million according to figures released by Wageningen University. Phytophthora has thus far being able to evade successful resistance by most commercially produced potato varieties. Solynta’s director, Hein Kruyt, reportedly says his company is capable of breeding potato varieties with multiple disease resistance genes – as many as three, four or even more. He says Solynta has developed late blight resistant potato varieties with a “stable parental line”.  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

UK: JBA Seed Potatoes takes over Westland/Unwins seed potato business

JBAHorticultureWeek reports that JBA Seed Potatoes have completed the outright purchase of the Westlands/Unwins seed potato business as of 8 August 2017. All of the current 400+ retail customers are receiving a new price list from JBA Seed Potatoes with the blessing of Westlands/Unwins as their preferred supplier to maintain a consistent supply of top quality seed. Jamieson Brothers of Annan who trade under the brand name JBA Seed Potatoes are a family business established in 1895 and hold the world record for having the most potato varieties on display at one time with 667 shown, at Gardening Scotland in 2013. Thompson & Morgan have also withdrawn from the seed potato market this year. This means garden centres, other than own-brand JBA, WCF and Taylors are the main players left in the market. Westland/Unwins machinery will transfer to JBA in Annan, south west Scotland. More

AHDB official: ‘Brexit could be a mixed blessing for potato sector’

While Brexit could hamper trade, AHDB said Scottish potatoes could find new markets elsewhere. Picture: ContributedWhile the wider potato industry might be much less exposed to some of the post-Brexit trade risks which could be disastrous for other sectors of agriculture, the industry still faces many challenges in the coming years. Speaking at the country’s foremost sector event, Potatoes in Practice (PiP), held outside Dundee yesterday, David Swales, head of strategic insight with the Agricultural & Horticultural Development Board (AHDB), said that, while most other areas of agriculture needed frictionless trade with the EU to remain viable, “a bit of friction” would actually be good for ware growers. “The domestic market is very important for those who grow ware crops – and as the country also imports a lot of value added processed potato products, import substitution would offer considerable opportunities for this sector of the UK potato industry,” he said. However, he admitted that the situation was slightly different for Scotland, where a deal of the focus was on seed production. Read the full story in The Scotsman

Scottish potato seed exporters set to increase tonnage to Brazil and Kenya

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Scottish seed potatoes

Government representatives from Scotland and Brazil met in July to simplify the import classification requirements for seed potatoes. The game-changing meeting was organised and funded by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB). Brazil produces circa 3.6m tonnes of potatoes a year according to UN figures, however in terms of productivity yields are only two thirds of what is achieved by UK growers. Rob Burns, Head of Crops Export Market Development at AHDB said: “British seed potatoes are rightly renowned across the world. Not only for high health and high quality, but also for diversity, we have a great range of varieties which thrive in a range of conditions, be it damper cooler climates such as the UK, or warmer environments.” This agreement could set the path for a significant increase in the tonnage of British seed exported to Brazil, which is likely to help increase yields for the growers that plant them.Representatives from both countries will meet again in January to finalise discussions on removing requirement for disease testing on GB seed potatoes entering Brazil. Continue reading

Embattled West Australian potato growers eye Egypt as potential new market after TPP hardship

Kon Peos stands in front of a row of potato cratesSeed potato exports to Egypt are being flagged as a new opportunity for West Australian (WA) potato producers hit by tomato potato psyllid trade restrictions. The Potato Growers Association of Western Australia was set to receive $60,000 in State Government funding, chief executive Simon Moltoni said. The money would be used to build up trade relations between the two countries. This would be met with a $40,000 contribution from the association, Mr Moltoni said. He said the potential market in Egypt was the same size as the whole WA seed potato industry and could provide huge growth potential. “The size of this market is 10,000 tonne. It is bigger than just the effect the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) has had and it will give growers an option if they choose to participate. There are three international exporters of seed potato in WA — WA Elite Seed, Southern Packers and Lake Jasper seed potatoes. Mr Moltoni said they would all be crucial to the early stages of any trade deals. More

Australia: Persistence pays off for Tasmanian seed-potato producer Agronico

Nothing happens quickly in the seed-potato business, but persistence has paid off for Agronico owner Julian Shaw. Mr Shaw, who describes himself as a mad scientist, started the business in 1985. Back then Agronico was focused more on production agronomy in crops such as onions but over time his interest in seed-potato production grew. Nowadays Agronico is one of the country’s biggest seed-potato producers – about 10,000 tonnes a year – and the only one using hydroponic mini tuber production. The company has 150 potato varieties in its collection and produces about 28 commercially. All the new varieties are imported as tissue cultures that must be grown out over about four generations before they can be used for commercial production. Hydroponic production allows the company to precisely control crop nutrition, producing evenly sized mini tubers and more of them. Ag Weekly report. Agronico was also in the news recently when they opened a new state of the art coolstore in Spreyton, Tasmania.

Australia: Agronico opens new purpose-built coolstore for seed potato storage in Tasmania

Image result for Agronico opens new purpose-built coolstore at SpreytonThe new coolstore at Spreyton can store up to 8000 tonnes of seed potatoes and has the potential to service Australia’s seed potato needs, Agronico believes. Agronico chief executive Robert Graham said the purpose-built facility will benefit Tasmanian potato farmers because it will improve the viability of their produce. “We believe there’s a big opportunity for seed potatoes in Tasmania. We think farmers should capitalise on that,” Mr Graham said. “We should produce seed potatoes for all of Australia because we can produce such good quality seed. High quality seed is vital for high yield and, therefore, valuable for our farmers,” he said. The new coolstore means potatoes can be transported direct from Tasmanian paddocks for grading and then to the facility for storage in optimum conditions. More

Canada: Acreage low, stewardship high for GMO potatoes

This year’s Canadian acreage of J.R. Simplot’s genetically engineered Innate potato will be “very small” to non-existent, according to a company spokesperson. Kerwin Bradley, director of commercial innovation for Simplot, says the company’s marketing strategy for new varieties is based on customer polls and identification of marketing channels. “We don’t plant potatoes, or give seed to growers, until we know that there is a place for them to sell them, so how quickly that develops depends on how quickly we develop routes to market for those potatoes,” he says. “That way we ensure we keep the risk really low for everybody, especially the growers.” Any acres planted to Innate potato varieties will be in Eastern Canada, or potentially Manitoba, he says. Producers across Canada have been forewarned that growing biotech potatoes will present unique stewardship challenges. Full story by Julienne Isaacs

British potatoes put roots down in Africa

British potatoes put roots down in AfricaA potato seed trial in Kenya has passed initial tests and the plants are now growing well in three locations in the country. The trials are the result of a 2016 agreement between the Scottish and Kenyan governments to test 10 potato varieties expected to thrive in hot, dry conditions. These included four free varieties – Hermes, Atlantic, Cara and Russet Burbank – and six commercial varieties. The UK Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) hopes to reach the end of the trials and approvals, and open the market fully, by early 2018. According to SASA, once British varieties are approved in Kenya, it could open access to neighbouring markets. This would include the 19-country Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), of which Kenya is a member. More

Hi-tech production to fill demand for quality seed potatoes in India

.There is a huge shortage of certified seed in India. The incorporation of hi-tech seed production systems, coupled with advanced virus detection techniques is the only way out in fulfilling the huge demand for quality seed potatoes in the country. Keeping that in view, ICAR-CPRI, Shimla has standardized a number of high-tech seed production systems based on tissue culture and micropropagation technologies. The adoption of those systems of seed production will improve the quality of breeder seed, enhance seed multiplication rates and reduce field exposure of seed crops by at least 2 years. The systems were thoroughly tested at the seed production farm of ICAR-CPRI before passing them on to farmers and other stakeholders. The latest hi-tech seed production system, standardized by the institute, is based on the concept of soil-less, aeroponic technology. More

‘Challenges’ over Scottish seed potato exports

Seed potato growers who have been confident that crucial trade with Egypt and other non-EU markets would not be disrupted by Brexit may be in for a shock. According to Peter Hardwick, the export chief of levy body AHDB, securing the future of exports such as potatoes and malting barley to third countries is complex and presents “real challenges”. Around 75% of seed potato exports are sent out of the EU, mainly from Scotland, and Mr Hardwick said the industry needed to be “realistic” to ensure there was continuity in these markets. “When you look at existing EU trade agreements in detail, the UK is listed separately, so it may be relatively straightforward to disentangle ourselves and enter into a bilateral agreement with the third country,” he said. More

Punjab gets new potato centre

Punjab would soon set up a potato center at Dhogri (Jalandhar). The idea is to promote seed potato production. This center will be built under the Indo-Dutch agreement with the help of mission for integrated development of horticulture (MIDH), according to the local press. An official spokesman said that Wouter Verhey, agriculture counselor, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, New Delhi along with Anand Krishnan, Deputy Counsellor Agriculture (India and Sri Lanka) visited the office of Director Horticulture Punjab to discuss about the progress of this center. (Source: Potato Business)

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