UK: Guidance on reduced fluazinam sensitivity in late blight populations

Image result for late blight ahdbIn July 2017, AHDB in the UK notified its blight network about reports of the spread of EU_37_A2, a strain of blight first discovered in the Netherlands in 2013 which has shown reduced sensitivity to Fluazinam, a common fungicide used to tackle blight and other diseases. As a result, you can find the two below links to guidelines on how the potato industry should respond to reduced fluazinam sensitivity in late blight populations, which derives from research funded by the AHDB and carried about by SRUC and ADAS. For a full report please use the following – Guidance on how the potato industry should respond to reduced fluazinam sensitivity in late blight populations​. For a summary of the report please use the following – Guidance on reduced fluazinam sensitivity in late blight populations: summary

New report: Consumers are moving away from old definitions of healthy potato snacks

Related imageSnacking is central to the strategy of food companies, with explosive growth in the number of new such products launched between 2010 and 2017: 125% in Europe and 47% in North America. According to a new report from New Nutrition Business, Strategies in Healthy Snacking, this also means that the healthy snacking segment is now an intensely competitive and crowded. “Companies have to work even harder to create a product that brings a real point of difference for the consumer,” says Julian Mellentin, author of the report. Commenting for potatobusiness.com on what consumers are looking for when they ask for healthy potato snacks, Mellentin says: “Consumers are moving away from old definitions of healthy such as reduced fat and reduced salt – reduced salt is of interest only to a minority of people aged 65+. Potato snacks are primarily about indulgence and pleasure and bringing health benefits mustn’t lose sight of this fact.” The report outlines 10 strategies for success in healthy snacking, illustrated with 15 case studies of healthy snacking brands in the US and Europe. More on Potatobusiness.com

Black dot a particular scourge of fresh market potato crops in GB this season

Black dot has been a particular scourge of fresh market crops this season, according AHDB Potatoes in the UK. Delayed harvesting has encouraged disease spread, increasing the crop’s exposure to infected soil and high levels of moisture. Here’s a reminder of why the problem has been so widespread. Black dot is a disease caused by Colletotrichum coccodes. There is evidence that microsclerotia (resting bodies) of the fungus can survive for many years in soil due, in part, to alternate hosts. It can infect weeds such as nettle, field bindweed and shepherd’s purse.  Survival is further enhanced by the presence of potato volunteers. Black dot can be both seed and soil-borne. Although seed-borne infection can cause disease in progeny tubers, soil inoculum poses a greater threat. Soil contamination is the main source of disease in a progeny crop. Disease risk should be based on evaluation of seed infection and, importantly, soil contamination for which a soil test is available. Black dot is commonly confused with silver scurf (Helminthosporium solani). More in the latest Storage Bulletin from AHDB

Science discovery: Plants talk to each other using an internet of fungi

The roots of shoots can form a hidden network (credit: Mycatkins CC by 2.0)Hidden under your feet is an information superhighway that allows plants to communicate and help each other out. It’s made of fungi. It’s an information superhighway that speeds up interactions between a large, diverse population of individuals. It allows individuals who may be widely separated to communicate and help each other out. But it also allows them to commit new forms of crime. No, we’re not talking about the internet, we’re talking about fungi. While mushrooms might be the most familiar part of a fungus, most of their bodies are made up of a mass of thin threads, known as a mycelium. We now know that these threads act as a kind of underground internet, linking the roots of different plants. That tree in your garden is probably hooked up to a bush several metres away, thanks to mycelia. By linking to the fungal network they can help out their neighbours by sharing nutrients and information – or sabotage unwelcome plants by spreading toxic chemicals through the network. This “wood wide web”, it turns out, even has its own version of cyber-crime. More

Report: ‘5.4 billion UK meal occasions features fresh potatoes eaten at home; 2.8 billion featuring frozen potato products’

Image result for british potatoesAHDB Potatoes in the UK recently published its latest annual Market Intelligence Report. In this highly informative report, it is noted that the GB market is increasingly influenced by the European potato market. Volatility in potato supply and prices, due to issues such as weather, means that imported European product plays a part in the GB market. In 2016/17, of non-EU countries, the UK imported the majority of fresh potatoes from Israel and processed potato products from Canada, South Africa and the USA. For non-EU exports, the UK continued to export the largest amount of seed potatoes to Egypt, fresh potatoes to Norway and processed potatoes to Nigeria in the 2016/17 season. According to the report, AHDB conducts a consumer tracker with YouGov to monitor attitudes toward potatoes on a six-monthly basis. The most recent findings of this survey show that 76% of consumers eat potatoes on a weekly basis and when asked, 71% of people surveyed said they considered potatoes to be healthy.  Continue reading

Hort expert informs on the importance of calcium for quality potato production

Factsheet: Role of Calcium in Potato Quality and ProductionIn a recently published factsheet, Professor Jiwan Palta from the Dept of Horticulture at the University of Wisconsin, provides growers with an overview of the role that calcium plays in potato development and tuber health. Palta was the recipient of the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association Researcher of the Year Award for 2016, and has been studying the role of calcium in potato production for many years. Some of the benefits of calcium application that he highlights, are: reduced storage rot; reduced incidences of internal defects, including hollow heart, brown spots, black spot bruise; reduced impact of heat and cold stresses on plant and reduced incidence of internal heat necrosis of tubers; as well as improved seed piece quality and sprout health (more robust plant). The factsheet was compiled in collaboration with Ryan Barratt at the Prince Edward Island Potato Board in Canada – go here to download it as a pdf file

Soil your undies: ‘Healthy soil will eat your underwear if you plant it’

Related imageHow healthy is your soil? If you want to know all you have to do is bury your underwear, says Canada’s Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) soil management specialist Adam Hayes. Last summer, Hayes helped members of a crop improvement association bury underwear in their fields to determine the amount of biological activity in their soils. They buried cotton briefs six to eight inches deep in the soil in late May and then dug them up in early August. In this interview, recorded this week at the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association annual meeting in London, Hayes explains that healthy soils teeming with bacteria, fungi and earthworms will eat and devour your cotton briefs, but they suffer much less damage in soils with lower levels of biological activity. Hayes encourages farmers to bury underwear in their fields to assess soil health. He recommends farmers watch the Soil Your Undies Cotton Test video produced by the Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario for tips on how to run the experiment on their farm. Related: What Underwear Can or Cannot Tell You About Soil Health

Factsheet: Best management practices to minimize the spread of PVY

Related imageThis factsheet is based on recent research done in Canada by Dr. Mathuresh Singh and his team in New Brunswick on PVY, which just concluded in March.  This research has been very successful in identifying which production practices are most associated with reducing the spread of PVY.  At the same time, PVY post-harvest test results in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have improved significantly in recent years, as these best practices are being more widely adopted. The factsheet was compiled by Ryan Barrett, Research & Agronomy Coordinator at the Prince Edward Island Potato Board, and published on the Peipotatoagronomy.com website. The document can be accessed here as a pdf file.

New potato variety said to have higher proportion of nutritious “slow” carbohydrates

Image result for Mistra Biotech potatoA research group at Mistra Biotech has recently made a major breakthrough: they have developed a new potato variety with a higher proportion of nutritious “slow” carbohydrates. “This is wonderful news. This potato, with its higher content of resistant starch, has many good health characteristics,” says Xue Zhao, a PhD student researching vegetable food at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Uppsala. The new potato was developed by a group of plant breeders in Mistra Biotech, headed by Mariette Andersson. This potato’s main characteristic is its relatively high content of “resistant starch” —starch that behaves like fiber; that is, instead of being absorbed by the small intestine, it enters the large intestine undigested. This confers numerous positive health effects. For example, it reduces glucose levels and insulin reactions; optimizes bacterial flora in the gut and gives a good boost to processes in the stomach; and can also facilitate weight loss. More

Alliance for Potato Research and Education aims to fight negative stereotypes about potatoes

Do potatoes belong in a healthy diet? Following a decades-long tide of negative buzz about the potato’s role in weight gain, diabetes and a host of other ills, this is the question the potato industry would like to answer once and for all with a resounding “yes!” Thanks to a recent initiative focused on potatoes and health, the industry is a big step closer to that goal, according to John Bareman, chair of the Canadian Potato Council and a board director with the Alliance for Potato Research and Education (APRE). In 2016, APRE, a joint venture between American and Canadian growers and processors, decided to focus on funding new scientific research on the connections between potatoes and nutrition. Peter Johnston, vice-president of Quality Assurance for Cavendish and secretary-treasurer for APRE, says the organization is intent on driving new questions about the links between potatoes and health. All studies funded through APRE will be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals – regardless of the results, “because what that does is drive new questions,” says Johnston. More

Not snake oil any longer: The case of new generation nitrogen products for potatoes

Some experts say nitrogen is the most used but least understood input on potato crops. Novel forms of fertiliser have often been dismissed as snake oil, but now a new generation of products have been developed, created by scientists and led by the physiology of the potato crop. From a scientific point of view, fertiliser technology is still very much in its infancy. The forms currently widely used today have been adopted because they’re easy to source in large quantities. They’ve been designed by chemists rather than biologists and haven’t had the crop’s physiology in mind. As a result, fertiliser uptake by plants is an inefficient process, with rates of recovery for nitrogen fertilisers in the region of 25-35%. But the tide is turning. Fertiliser technologies are now being developed that are physiologically-led and underpinned by sound, peer-reviewed scientific research. Dr David Marks, managing director of Levity Crop Science, explains why these products are better and can help achieve a higher marketable yield of potatoes. Read this in-depth article on the CPM website

Late blight scare: Migrant European pathogen generated aggressive new variants in India, not yet found elsewhere globally

Image result for potato late blight indiaAn international team of scientists from several countries including India, the UK and the US examined the population structure of the Phytophthora infestans pathogen that caused the 2013–14 late blight epidemic in eastern and northeastern India. Their findings were published online recently in the journal Nature.The data provide new baseline information for populations of Pinfestans in India. It was found that a migrant European 13_A2 genotype was responsible for the 2013–14 epidemic, replacing the existing populations. Mutations have generated substantial sub-clonal variation of which 19 were unique variants not yet reported elsewhere globally. The new A2 population is aggressive and has displaced the former populations. The pathogen is resistant to the fungicide metalaxyl, a commonly used fungicide Continue reading

EuroBlight report: New emerging blight clones continue rapid spread across Europe

Image result for potato late blightEuroBlight is continuously examining the ongoing evolution of the European population of the potato late blight pathogen and now reports on the 2017 results. Almost 1500 samples were genotyped from 16 countries last growing season. In its latest report, EuroBlight concludes that three new clones (EU_36_A2, EU_37_A2 and EU_41) continue to spread in 2017 and are displacing other populations. Around 75% of the samples belonged to defined clonal lineages also observed in previous seasons. Some clones are widespread and have been present in Europe for more than a decade, but the three emerging clones increased their combined frequency from 10% in 2016 to 28% of the population in 2017. The EuroBlight model of pathogen tracking is a rapid, cost-effective and co-ordinated approach to understanding pathogen evolution on a European scale. Data on the dominant clones has been passed to growers, advisors, breeders and agrochemical companies to provide practical management advice and shape longer-term strategies. More

Caught out: Bread found to have more salt than a bag of potato chips

What do you think has more salt: a slice of bread or a pack of potato chips? In some cases, the answer may indeed surprise you. Bread, it turns out, is the top contributor odietary sodium in the US and many other countries around the world. And a big new analysis from the World Action on Salt and Health, based at Queen Mary University of London, helps us understand why. For the report, a global team of researchers analyzed the salt content in 2,000 breads sold in 32 countries and regions. More than a third of the loaves exceeded the maximum salt target for bread set out by the UK: 1.13g of salt per 100g, or the equivalent of half a teaspoon of salt for about two slices of bread. The US has no official target, but voluntary draft Food and Drug Administration guidance suggests manufacturers should aim for about the same levels. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about nine in 10 kids and adults in the US exceed the daily limits for sodium consumption (2.3g, or one teaspoon’s worth). More

Canadian scientist to identify traits that will help potatoes face impacts of climate change

Dr. Keshav Dahal, a crop stress physiologist who joined Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Research and Development Centre in Fredericton, New Brunswick during summer 2017, is helping unlock how some plants sense and react to stress more effectively than others. He is also using physiological, biochemical and molecular techniques to determine how stress impacts a crop plant’s productivity and quality. “Climate change poses a major challenge to growth and yield of key crop species in several regions of Canada,” he notes. “I’m currently focusing on potatoes, but I am interested in studying wheat, rye and canola in the future.” Dahal says the impacts of climate change have already been felt by Canadian crop farmers. As a cool season crop, potatoes are considered to be sensitive to hot weather as well as drought, Dahal explains. When asked if there one “tolerance” aspect that Dahal considers more important than others in the face of climate change, he identifies drought tolerance first and then heat tolerance. More