Over 40 potato growers and agronomists met at AHDB Potatoes’ Welsh Potato Day near Haverfordwest on 2 February to exchange technical knowledge aimed at producing the perfect crop. Pembrokeshire is renowned nationally for producing high-quality potatoes using an eco-friendly farming system, where potatoes are usually grown in rotation with grassland. This method has many benefits including maintaining healthy and nutritious soil, but the grassland is attractive to wireworm, a pest that causes damage to potato crops. Wireworms, the larvae of click beetles (Elateridae), live for several years in the soil, and can drill deep holes into potato tubers. Left untreated, this can leave a potato crop completely unsaleable resulting in big losses for the grower. Puffin Produce, a Pembrokeshire potato company, has helped sponsor a PhD student at Swansea University to conduct research on managing the pest. Ben Clunie addressed the event on the various biological ways of tackling wireworm that he has studied during his first year. These include using natural enemies such as fungi and nematodes, essential oils and pheromone traps. Download the full presentations from the event here
Seed potato farmers in Kenya’s potato growing regions are adopting promising technology with potential to boost quality seed availability. The farmers are using rooted apical cuttings as starter material for seed production as opposed to certified seed. The cuttings technology has been introduced in Kenya by the International Potato Center (CIP) under a programme funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). A cutting is similar to a nursery-grown seedling, except that it is produced through vegetative means and does not originate from a seed. Cuttings are produced from tissue culture plantlets in the screen house, rather than minitubers, and after rooting, are planted in the field. Each cutting produces 7 to 10, and up to 15+ tubers which are multiplied a further season or two, then the harvest is used and/or sold as seed. This means that the seed that farmers buy is equivalent to basic or ‘certified one’ seed in seed certification systems, and will produce high yielding crops. Currently the technology targets seed multipliers, but expanding to ware farmers. Continue reading
For decades, potatoes have been branded unhealthy and we have been advised to avoid consuming too many of them. But now, researchers say that consuming the popular tuber is actually good for you. In fact, they claim that you could eat potatoes, and nothing else, for the rest of your life and ‘remain pretty healthy‘. In a medical U-turn, scientists who reviewed a host of evidence are pushing for potatoes to be reassessed for their ‘clear’ health benefits. They have uncovered evidence in a 60-page report that the humble crop could slash the risk of having a heart attack and may even protect against dementia. Professor Derek Stewart, from the James Hutton Institute in Scotland, and co-author of the report said: “The studies we looked at found a whole raft of different benefits. If you have to live the rest of your life on just one thing, you could do it on potatoes and remain pretty healthy. There are not many crops you can say that about. …Other research has found a strong association with enhanced cognitive function in the elderly if they’re eating potatoes.” The full report can be downloaded as a pdf file. Or go to this page and follow the appropriate link.
In a new study published in the American Journal of Potato Research on potato black dot disease, entitled “Potato Black Dot – The Elusive Pathogen, Disease Development and Management“, scientists Dennis A. Johnson, Brad Geary and Leah (Lahkim) Tsror say black dot caused by Colletotrichum coccodes was initially considered a mild disease of potato, mainly infecting weakened plants. In the past two decades however, the fungus has been reported to infect roots and stems relatively early in the growing season, be prevalent on potato and in field soil in major potato production regions of the world, cause early death of foliage by itself and in association with other pathogens, reduce plant and root growth, and to reduce potato yields, as well as causing unsightly blemishes on tubers. The scope of this research paper is to define our current understanding on the disease and summarize disease management strategies. An abstract of the study and instructions to obtain the full paper can be found here.
The research study on the Global Potato Chips Market organizes the overall perspective of the Potato Chips industry. This incorporates upcoming flow of the Potato Chips market together with an extensive analysis of recent industry statistics. It describes the Potato Chips market size as well as factors controlling market growth. Likewise, the report explains various challenges which affect the Potato Chips market expansion. The report reviews economic prominence of the Potato Chips industry around the globe. The report offers a crucial understanding of entire Potato Chips market dimensions and evaluation during period 2018 to 2022. The research study provides excellent knowledge of the worldwide Potato Chips market structure. More
The findings from on-farm trials could help combat a deadly potato disease that causes around £26 million worth of damage to crops in the UK each year. According to demonstrations carried out by AHDB Potatoes and Harper Adams University, the use of fluopyram, previously used as a fungicide, as a nematicide provided a yield increase to a range of potato varieties at a farm with very high levels of Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN). The findings come after on-farm trials were held in Shropshire during the 2017 growing season that looked in greater detail at the control of PCN. The aim is to improve the tools available to growers and agronomists for dealing with infestations. The results were announced at AHDB’s Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm West results day in late January, to an audience of more than 60 growers and agronomists. Continue reading
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
What price do you need to sell last year’s potato crop at to recoup the money you put into producing it, i.e. the break-even price? Work from the University of Idaho shows that many of the inputs that figure into the cost of production rose over the last year. Extension Agricultural Economist Ben Eborn surveyed producers, custom applicators, farm leaders and others to put together a set of figures for the costs involved in production. Those costs included things like fertilizer, trucking, land rent and insurance, and were intended to gauge both the per acre costs of production and costs associated with owning a farm. Using these figures, the University of Idaho has created a tool for producers to tailor the base-line numbers for the model farm in their area to reflect their individual operations, which will give a producer the break-even price for their crop. Once released, it will be available at https://www.uidaho.edu/cals/idaho-agbiz. Read more
Just in case you needed another excuse to supersize your McDonald’s fries, everyone’s favourite crispy potatoes may actually help treat hair loss. Researchers at Yokohama National University in Japan discovered that an ingredient in McDonald’s crispy potato recipe may help with hair regrowth, Refinery29 reports. The study found that “Dimethylpolysiloxane,” a silicone that’s added to the oil to prevent splashing, can aid in the regeneration of “follicle germs” (aka, the spots where new follicles grow out). Dimethylpolysiloxane is an anti-foaming agent made of silicone added to the oil used to cook the famous fries. The silicone yielded some pretty impressive results after three days, which gives all those hair masks we’ve splurged on a run for their money. But there is a catch: The tests were only run on mice hair, not human hair. More
A team of Harper Adams University researchers, Dr Matthew Back, Dr Ivan Grove and Bill Watts, are working in collaboration with Leeds University and Barworth Agriculture to improve the accuracy of the ‘AHDB Potatoes potato cyst nematode (PCN) pallida calculator’ which is currently used as an educational forecasting tool for UK potato growers. To help growers to formulate control strategies, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Potatoes created the ‘PCN Calculator’ for the most troublesome species, Globodera pallida. The calculator enables PCN population dynamics and potato yields to be forecast for different potato varieties grown under a range of conditions and control strategies. However, the current calculator needs modification and additional data sets to keep up to date with recent advancements in our understanding of PCN biology, shifting varietal trends and new management practices. More
Confidence throughout the supply chain is key to a sustainable potato industry, but how can growers, processors and packers ensure consistent productivity and regular investment in an ever-changing marketplace? The challenges associated with the UK potato sector are not new; a high turnover of varieties, changing consumer habits and hugely volatile commodity prices all add to the complexity of the industry, not to mention the more recent curveball – Brexit. Rufus Pilgrim, managing director of one of the UK’s leading suppliers and packers of potatoes, Yorkshire-based R S Cockerill, has been exposed to the difficulties and opportunities surrounding the industry for 25 years. Prompted by a concern about potato supply, in 2016 Mr Pilgrim decided to complete a Nuffield scholarship entitled ‘The future of the UK potato industry – learnings from successful supply models’. More
Optimum potato growth and profitable production depend on many management factors, one of which is ensuring a sufficient supply of nutrients. When the supply of nutrients from the soil is not adequate to meet the demands for growth, fertilizer application becomes necessary. A comprehensive nutrient management program is no doubt essential for maintaining a healthy potato crop, optimizing tuber yield and quality, and minimizing undesirable impacts on the environment – in particular during irrigated crop production. High nutrient demand coupled with relative low native fertility often found in irrigated potato soils, can result in high fertilizer requirements for irrigated potato production. In an in-depth report on this topic, specialists Carl J. Rosen and Peter M. Bierman at the University of Minnesota provide several research based guidelines that will be of interest to growers and agronomists alike. View the full report