New storage service launched for British potato growers

Related imageAHDB’s Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research has announced the launch of a new potato storage service called VarietyCheck for the forthcoming season. According to AHDB, new regulations on acrylamide and fewer sprout suppressants it is more important than ever to get the right storage conditions for your variety of choice. The new service will be tailored to crop variety and dormancy, as well as end use. The VarietyCheck service will objectively assess grower’s new varieties or potato stocks under defined and accurately controlled storage conditions with processing or fresh pack storage options. For processing crops, selecting a variety with long dormancy and an ability to store at lower temperature without sweetening helps your customers overcome these challenges. Similarly, for fresh pack varieties, maintaining appearance and avoiding black heart are high on markets’ wish-lists.  Please contact Adrian Briddon on 01406 359412 to discuss your VarietyCheck requirements.

UK: New Knowledge and Innovation Facilitator to help address potato storage challenges

Laura Bouvet has been appointed Knowledge and Innovation Facilitator for Agri-Tech East and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB); the first time the two organisations have collaborated in this way. As part of the new jointly funded role, Laura will support a number of innovation projects with growers – drawing on her extensive knowledge of plant pathology, genomics and advanced breeding. Her knowledge will be highly beneficial for her work with AHDB, which will focus on its Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research (SBCSR) facility, which provides controlled environment facilities for research into optimum crop storage conditions. Sprout suppression in potatoes is an area of particular interest for growers. Dr Rob Clayton, AHDB Strategy Director for Potatoes, says: “This is a crucial time for Laura Bouvet to join the SBCSR team to help address the immediate challenges facing our growers and store managers. “We already know some of our stores use three times more energy than others and it’s compromising productivity and an individual’s bottom line.” More

Sheltered: Limited impact on potatoes in British stores following cold spell, report says

Related imageThe latest Potato Weekly report issued by AHDB Potatoes has been published earlier today, and the full report can be accessed on the AHDB website. In the report growers are reminded to take note of the upcoming Strategic Potato Farm event in East Yorks next week. It is noted that potato stores have done their job the past week and quality is generally reported to be holding up well after last week’s cold spell. Produce in ambient stores not reporting any major issues. There were some reports of breakdown in Melody and Ramos in the West and East respectively and some early sprouting in the South. There is a risk that produce in transit for export may have suffered from the cold, but it is too early to tell and more information will become available when it comes off the boats. Movement has recovered after the weather disruption last week with plentiful available supplies in stores. Trade in Scotland was challenging this week with snow preventing some deliveries, particularly in the east. The market itself remains flat, although M Piper was reportedly moving well. Exports to the Canaries were reportedly steady this week. Read the full Potato Weekly report

Silver scurf: Great name, but bad for spuds

Fans of colorful, alliterative language may like “silver scurf.” Not Red River Valley potato growers; they see the crop disease as a growing threat. “I’m getting more questions about it at harvest,” said Andy Robinson, Fargo, N.D.-based potato extension agronomist for both North Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota. He helped to organize potato educational sessions during the recent International Crop Expo in Grand Forks, N.D., and brought in Amanda Gevens to speak on the crop disease on Feb. 22. Gevens, a professor in the plant pathology department at the University of Wisconsin, also is seeing more cases of silver scurf. She described the disease “as gray, silver and shiny patches” that are “more obvious on red and purples,” but seen on yellow and russet potatoes, too. Silver scurf, caused by a fungus, is a common potato disease and found in all major production areas of the United States, including the Red River Valley of western Minnesota and northeast North Dakota. More

McCain storage specialist warns growers against using CIPC-treated storages for temporary holding of seed potatoes

Image result for john walsh mccainJohn Walsh, Associate Principal Scientist, Potato Storage at McCain Foods, presented on the effects of low levels of CIPC on seed potato performance during last week’s International Potato Technology Expo on Prince Edward Island (PEI) in Canada. Walsh told attendees that CIPC, also known as Chlorpropham, has been an affordable and effective sprout inhibitor of potatoes for more than 60 years. “Thirty years ago, most potato growers in Maine, New Brunswick and PEI grew a small amount of seed to use on their farms. They always had one seed storage for both holding and cutting the seed prior to planting,” he said. “As growers became more specialized, many converted their seed storages to processing or table storages and began using CIPC to control sprouting. Unfortunately, that left many without a specialized, CIPC-free, building where they could cut their seed. Instead, they would clean and disinfect the CIPC-treated storage before moving seed in for cutting, curing and holding the seed prior to planting.”  Continue reading

Large potato stocks in North-West Europe; lower contract prices expected for coming season

All recent stockpile inventories taken in the NEPG countries (North-Western European Potato Growers) have indicated that real potato stocks are higher compared to last season. They are also higher with regard to the five-year average. With 6% more acreage in the North-West and an 11% higher yield than last year, there are currently too many potatoes. This imbalance between supply and demand is having a negative impact on current free market prices. This is despite the processing industry showing a growth of 15% in production over the past five years. The supply still, however, exceeds demand. This is partly due to these low-quality products, which were not processed at an earlier stage, still being continually supplied. The processing side’s activities are good, but almost all the extra potatoes needed are supplied from contracted potatoes. Based on the current situation, lower contract prices for processing potatoes are expected for the coming season. More

Sprout control: A Canadian update on the use of MH and CIPC

Use of the growth regulators MH (maleic hydrazide) and CIPC (chlorpropham) are integral to the potato industry, but there is always room for improvement – and even new avenues of use as the chipping industry evolves. According to Mark VanOostrum, potato supply and quality manager at WD Potato Limited in Ontario, growers are generally very careful to apply MH at the right time, but he says there is a tendency to be too late with MH application timing compared with too early. “That curbs the potential benefits, often due to the fact we usually time our MH with a fungicide application on a seven-day interval,” he explains. VanOostrum and George Burkholder (president of consulting firm Ag Services in Mitchell, Ont.) both agree that using CIPC in addition to MH can provide better sprouting inhibition success compared to just using MH. “The combination is bullet proof,” says Burkholder. He also mentions Smartblock, a new product that boosts CIPC’s effectiveness. More

Enemies of the skin: Expert shares management guidelines on serious potato blemish diseases

Related imageSilver scurf and black dot are potato blemish diseases that are growing in prevalence and economic importance. These diseases are challenging to control and require an integrated effort to reduce their impact on potato production. So says Dr Amanda Gevens, Associate Professor & Extension Specialist in the Plant Pathology Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US. Earlier today, she addressed attendees at the 2018 International Crop Expo in Grand Forks, ND. “Silver scurf and black dot are both diseases which cause tuber discoloration that makes infected tubers unmarketable. Scurf and black dot are caused by separate fungal pathogens that have distinct life cycles, however. Management strategies mostly consist of cultural and chemical controls, and are hindered by the lack of commercially available resistant cultivars,” Gevens told the meeting.  Continue reading

Playing it cool: University of Idaho installs a CoolBot to avoid fallout with nuclear potatoes

“Would you like fries with that?” Yes, of course you would. And chances are that those fries came from the pre-nuclear seed potatoes grown in the University of Idaho’s greenhouses. The University of Idaho’s Nuclear Seed Potato Program is extremely important to Idaho and the Pacific Northwest potato industry. The University of Idaho’s Nuclear Seed Potato Program is made up of an on-campus lab and greenhouse on the University’s farm, where plants are grown in gallon pots. Here, the University maintains germplasms of over three hundred potato varieties, from Purple Pelissa and Magic Molly to Nooksack and Heirloom, plus a bunch of really old strains and some of the newest cutting edge varieties. Storing the University of Idaho’s nuclear seed potatoes is complicated. They need to be kept cold for an extended period of time at 39°F with about 95% relative humidity — which is a challenging climate to maintain. The University of Idaho recently purchased a 6×6 CoolBot unit from Store-It-Cold to solve their problem in this regard. More

US: Impact of CIPC use under review by the EPA

Image result for cipc potato sprout inhibitorAs a part of a Registration Review process, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) in the US is reviewing the data associated with the use of Chlorpropham (CIPC) – the major sprout inhibitor used in the potato industry. The Task Force representing the companies that manufacture and sell CIPC are actively working with EPA to provide any additional data to support the continued registration of this important compound. The output of the models used by EPA to evaluate any potential impacts of the use of CIPC on applicators, the environment or human health, depends on the accuracy of the assumptions about use patterns. EPA initially assumed that 100 per cent of the crop is treated. The National Potato Council (NPC) provided comments that questioned that assumption. Based on the percentage of the crop used for seed and that used directly from the field after harvest, NPC estimated that between 55 and 65 percent of the potato crop is treated with CIPC. These comments encouraged EPA to use that estimate, or per cent crop treated, as they evaluated the use of CIPC. (Source: National Potato Council)

Europe: Potato DNA markers could keep potatoes in storage fresher for longer

EU-funded scientists have discovered genetic markers that could allow potatoes to be selected for their ability to be stored at low temperatures, keeping them fresh and avoiding the use of anti-sprouting chemicals. Potatoes used for crisps and chips are usually stored at eight degrees – a temperature high enough to prevent starch from breaking down into glucose and fructose. To slow sprouting, potato producers often use a suppressant like chlorpropham, a chemical the EU is looking to phase out due to health concerns. Hoping to find an alternative to chemical sprout suppressors, the EU-funded GENSPI (Genomic Selection for Potato Improvement) project has developed a genetic marker system to identify plants that display a resistance to glucose and fructose formation. Their tubers can be stored at three or four degrees, low enough to keep sprout growth at bay for very long periods. More

British potato stock levels in stores significantly higher

Image result for potato storageAHDB announced yesterday that GB potato stock levels for the end of November are estimated at 3.6M tonnes, the highest level for this point in the season since 2011/12. Amber Cottingham, Analyst for AHDB Potatoes, said: “Last December we estimated the GB production figures to be up by around 15 per cent, at 6.04 million tonnes, so the increase in stocks held in store has been expected.” The high production in the 2017 growing season was the result of a five per cent increase in planted area to 122,779 ha coupled with one of the highest average yields on record (49.3 t/ha). With much of the season still to come, high production figures suggest that it is unlikely that potato supply will be as tight as it was over the previous two seasons. Amber said: “We are aware that there have been storage quality issues reported, which could impact volume of the marketable stocks later in the season.”   Continue reading

US: Company on cutting edge of protecting stored potatoes with ‘humigator’ technology

IHT is Small Business Development Center Success StoryIn 1985, Garry Isaacs invented a piece of equipment he called a humigator. He patented it and started a company in Blackfoot six years ago called Idaho Hydro Tech (IHT) to manufacture it. The name is a combination of fumigator and humidifier, which describes the two functions of the invention. Three years ago he retired and his son, Blake took over. Isaacs is proud of the capabilities of his father’s invention, especially its ability to remove potato pathogens from the air using only water and physics. “We can remove 350 million mold spores and four trillion bacteria per gallon of water collected,” he explained. The humigator uses a patented “venturi scrubber” to remove mold spores and bacteria from the air inside a potato storage facility without the use of physical filters or chemicals. It does this while maintaining humidity inside the storage facility. The patented process used by the humigator depends solely on the physics of water and air inside the venturi scrubber. More

Managing weight loss in potato storages

By now, potatoes in most of the U.S. and Canada have been in storage two months or longer. The crop is at holding temperatures specific to the cultivar and use. Storages are being monitored for disease development, desired temperature, ventilation and humidity. According to Nora Olsen and Mary Jo Frazier at the University of Idaho, what isn’t as easy to see is the amount of weight loss, or shrinkage, that is occurring in storage. Stored potatoes will lose weight from respiration (carbon and water loss), transpiration (direct water loss) and disease. Transpiration water loss is the greatest factor in weight loss unless high levels of disease are present – then that becomes the greatest contributor, especially if caused by any of the water rots. In small-scale research trials, weight loss was dependent upon initial curing temperatures, and 55 to 70 per cent of the total weight loss occurred in the first 30 days. In general, about three per cent weight loss was seen in the first month. Total weight loss after five months was about five per cent. Having information on weight loss, even after the fact, can help identify ways to manage the crop in future years. More

Genes in storage: Husband and wife team dig into what genes lead to longer potato storability

One would hardly consider Nevada to be potato country. Livestock is far and away the agricultural king in the Silver State, and all other commodities bow down before it. But in a lab at the University of Nevada, Reno, work is being done that researchers believe could eventually prevent the loss millions of tons of potatoes each year in the U.S. With the help of a $1.37 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), husband-and-wife team Dylan Kosma and Patricia Santos hope to discover, on a genetic level, ways to mitigate—if not eliminate—tuber loss in storage. The current NSF-funded project at the Kosma-Santos lab is focused on understanding the genetic reasons some potato varieties store better, for longer periods of time, than others—a question that has plagued the chip industry for years. More