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)

Newly introduced potato varieties set for success in Tanzania

Tanzania has excelled in experimental trials of high yielding and disease resistant potato varieties under a Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) programme of the FAO aimed to improve food security in the country. Three of 14 varieties brought into the country by the International Potato Centre (CIP) for field trials did well and two of them will soon be released. Two of these are Unica, locally known as Mkanano (and known as ‘Qingshu 9’ in China); and Shangii, which will be released to farmers for cultivation after proving resilience to climate vagaries. The third variety, Mvono, is now with the Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute for national performance trials. “Mvono is being tested for the first time in the world. Its first field trials are taking place in Tanzania”, said Dr Stephano Sebastian, the principal agricultural research officer with HORTI-Tengeru. Experimental trials and promotion of potato is one of the projects implemented within the East African region under the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) research programme on climate change, agriculture and food security. More

Chep pooled pallets gives Albert Bartlett environmental edge

Chep pooled pallets gives potato supplier environmental edgeLeading potato supplier, Albert Bartlett, is enjoying significant environmental savings within its supply chain thanks to the use of Chep’s pooled pallets. The Scottish potato company supplies own label and branded lines of potatoes to retail, wholesale, food service and processing customers, and recently signed a three-year contract renewal with Chep, an international company dealing in pallet and container pooling services. Russell White, Head of Operations, said: “The savings that we’re able to realise through the use of Chep’s pooling model are fantastic. It feels like we are making a real difference, working together to minimise the impact our supply chain is having on the environment.” Chep UK & Ireland Managing Director Helen Lane: “Environmental sustainability is at the heart of everything we do at Chep. 100% of our timber now comes from forests certified as sustainable. Our pallets are continually repaired, reused and shared, and because they are made to a higher standard than white wood pallets, they last up to 10-times longer.” More

US: Two potato power houses join forces

Farm Fresh Direct (Monte Vista, CO) and Cal-Ore Produce (Tulelake, CA) have announced they are joining forces to continue to increase both their organic and conventional programs. Farm Fresh will act as the exclusive sales and marketing agent for Cal-Ore and will service the U.S. with cost effective, one-stop shopping solutions, they said. Acording to Jamey Higham, president and CEO of Farm Fresh Direct. “Cal-Ore has a rich history in the potato business and have always been recognized for their quality, attention to the environment and their commitment to growing conventional and organic potatoes. More

Potatoes: The key to providing food for potential Martian colonists in the future?

Image result for potatoes marsFew can call themselves more of a potato enthusiast than the Weather Channel’s science editor, James Crugnale. He, like a growing number of spud science aficionados, believe the potato is the key to providing food for potential Martian colonists in the future. “Potatoes are one of nature’s most fantastic vegetables,” Crugnale told Inverse at the Inverse Lunar Eclipse Party and Science Fair at Caveat in New York City, where he explained just how hardcore taters can be. “They can be grown under very harsh circumstances. They’re one of our most versatile vegetables,” he said. “What’s so amazing about them is that they’re almost like the tardigrades of vegetables. They can go to some alien turf and still you can find a way to grow them, unlike many other foods. They’re water bears in the ground, pretty much.” More

Experts provide practical guidelines for fertilizer management in irrigated potato production

Image result for irrigation potatoOptimum 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 

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

Scientists create potato starch paint as petroleum-free alternative

Researchers in Germany have derived film formers for paint using potato starch. Although there has been numerous attempts to use “organic” components as a base for paint, none have proved to be at par with industry standards. This step from the science community at Fraunhofer has allowed us to have an insight towards creating true “natural” coating products that leaves no bad effects to the environment. Diminishing resources, climate issues, and the health of the environment have all been taken into account in the creation of this research paper. Previously, paint binders made with bio-based ingredients were very expensive and mostly sub-standard. That’s why the research team created a modified starch to counter those issues. The potato starch-based paint proves to be both cost-efficient and sustainable at the same time. More

Herbicide injury in potato an important focus of university extension program

Image result for potato extention north dakota state universityThe Potato Extension program at the North Dakota State University (NDSU) / University of Minnesota (U of M) is focused on developing science-based solutions to address potato production management problems by increasing economic and environmental sustainability through improved management practices. One of the major Extension and research interests include working on herbicide injury in potato and developing educational tools to disseminate scientific findings to growers. “One of the tools we use is the NDSU / U of M Potato Extension website ( to disseminate information to our clientele,” says Andrew Robinson, Extension Agronomist and Assistant Professor at NDSU.  Continue reading

UK: Potato growers ‘must look in dusty corners’ to innovate

SPot East conference speakers Andrew Francis of Elveden Estate with AHDB's Mark Stalham (common scab researcher), Marc Allison (nitrogen and water researcher) and Graham Tomalin (herbicides and tuber numbers researcher) at the event in Newmarket. Picture: SARAH CHAMBERSResearchers are continuing to make strides in helping UK potato growers to get the best crop with the least environmental impact as a nationally-significant Suffolk farm project reached the end of its second year, farmers were told this week. Elveden Estate farm manager Andrew Francis said forward-thinking growers had already made innovations and were now looking for gains in less obvious areas to boost yields while working more sustainably as researchers revealed latest findings from the project. The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), which chose the estate near Thetford to become its Strategic Potato (or SPot) Farm for the east, hosted a farmer workshop event showing the progress researchers had made at Elveden across a diverse range of trials, including ones on common scab, nitrogen and irrigation, herbicides, tuber numbers and runoff. More

Canadian researchers develop Colorado potato beetle resistant plants

Image result for Researchers in New Brunswick develop beetle-resistant potato plantsResearch scientists with Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada (AAFC) have developed two varieties of potato plants with built-in beetle resistance that could help lower pesticide use and reduce the number of potato plants destroyed by pests each year. Dr. Helen Tai, who works out of the Fredericton Research and Development Centre, said the development of the new varieties is timely with growing concern surrounding the use of pesticides on crops, and said research has been done to develop the plants for approximately 30 years. These new resistant potatoes are already in the breeding program and available to industry to trial.  Continue reading

Research finding: When pests graze certain potatoes, yields double

When some Colombian potato varieties are lightly grazed by a pest, the plants respond by growing larger tubers, at times doubling their yields. Although many types of plants can repair pest damage while maintaining productivity, it’s rare to find species that actually overcompensate and increase productivity. Cornell University and the Universidad Nacional de Colombia researchers first discovered this effect in a commercial Colombian potato in 2010. Now, a new study by the research group published Dec. 27, 2017, in the journal Ecology investigates whether certain conditions might allow farmers to exploit this response to reduce insecticides and increase productivity. Poveda and colleagues are also working with researchers at the Boyce Thompson Institute to identify the mechanism behind overcompensation. Once that happens, they can investigate whether overcompensation can be induced without the pest and if the effect can be translated or bred into U.S. varieties. Poveda is currently testing whether overcompensation exists in any U.S. varieties.  Continue reading