Pesticide ban looming in the EU: Will diquat, thiram and pymetrozine be lost early 2019?

Image result for potato pesticide banAccording to a news item published by the National Farmers Union (NFU) in the UK, the pesticides diquat, thiram and pymetrozine look set to be lost as a vote on pesticides legislation in a Brussel’s Appeal Committee last week delivered a ‘no opinion’ position. Dr Chris Hartfield, NFU Senior Regulatory Affairs Adviser, said: “It is expected that within the next few weeks the EU will officially publish the regulations banning these actives. …these actives would be banned from use very early in 2019.” According to Dr Harfield, this decision will have significant implications for potato production in the UK. Diquat is much more effective than other available alternatives. Pymetrozine is an important insecticide which is used by most seed potato growers and in ware crops. With the ban on neonicotinoids, the loss of this insecticide will have a significant impact on resistance management in these crops. Read more

Salty facts: American salty snacks market to reach $29 billion by 2022; dominated by Frito-Lay

Related imageHow Americans eat has evolved to match the frequently hurried, harried and hectic lifestyles of today’s consumers, says market research firm Packaged Facts. That shift has been a boon to convenient food options, including salty snacks such as potato chips, popcorn and pretzels. In its new report, “Salty Snacks: U.S. Market Trends and Opportunities,” Packaged Facts estimates retail dollar sales of the U.S. salty snacks industry at $24 billion in 2017, expected to exceed $29 billion in 2022. Despite competition from other snacks, such as chocolate and non-chocolate confections, cookies and crackers, the outlook for salty snacks remains bright. Future growth is expected to come from products that are as flavorful as possible but also as healthy and nutritious as possible. The report shows that PepsiCo controls about 60% of retail sales in the American salty snacks market through its Frito-Lay division. The Shelby Report. Also read report by Potato Business

‘When it comes to soil testing, we’ve only scratched the surface’

soil testingRemi Schmaltz is CEO of Decisive Farming, a Canadian software program for farms offering precision agronomics, data management, crop marketing, and telematics services. In a recent article published on Agfunder.com, Schmaltz writes about soil analysis, where it started, and how it’s changing. “Soil analysis know-how has grown by leaps and bounds,” he writes. “Today, there are all kinds of automated soil sampling systems and some companies have developed their own proprietary sampling systems that is designed to quickly collect high-quality samples using GPS technology and provide precise and efficient measurements. In fact, one Dutch-based manufacturer SoilCares has even created a hand-held device that they claim can analyze soil samples on the spot and wirelessly transmit the data anywhere in the world.”  Continue reading

Potato prices in Ireland ‘set to soar’ as yields face up to 50% drop

Potato prices ‘set to soar’ – as yields face up to 50% dropThe price of potatoes “will be significantly higher this year” according to the Country Crest co-founder, Michael Hoey. Speaking to AgriLand, Hoey explained that as a result of the difficult year  – which has led to the potato crop performing poorly – he believes “potatoes will go over the €500/box mark”. According to the IFA’s (Irish Farmers’ Association’s) Domestic Potato Market Report from Tuesday, July 10, a box of Rooster potatoes is currently costing €260/box on average. Although yields will be down drastically on last year, Hoey outlined: “High prices are not ideal because when the price of potatoes is high the customer just goes and buys something else. You get a big turning-off effect.” Philip Meade jnr, who is the commercial director for potatoes at Meade Potato Company, explained that two weeks of rain would be needed to secure the crops’ full water demand. Meade says “conditions like this have not been seen since 1976”. Read more

HZPC: Growing demand for organic potatoes encourages breeding

Image result for Growing demand for organic potatoes encourages breedingOrganic potatoes are on the rise, especially now that the large supermarkets have embraced the product. But what to do against the dreaded disease Phytophthora‘The market share of organic products is growing rapidly. In the Dutch supermarkets, turnover is increasing by 10 percent annually, but the potato is lagging behind’, says Edith Lammerts van Bueren, professor of organic plant breeding. She has been working on the improvement of organic vegetable and potato cultivation for decades. Potato fields cannot do without crop protection. Traditional growers spray against Phytophthora, or late blight, at least once a week. According to the professor, at least 20% of the organic farmers stopped growing potato between 2000 and 2007. ‘They could no longer cope with the intense waves of this disease.’ There are now a handful of varieties available that are resistant to late blight. However, the ‘technical’ restriction of these varieties is that they contain only one resistance gene. Breeder Peter Vos of HZPC is concerned. Read more 

New initiative looks at ways to develop ‘smart farms’ in Britain

Leeds University has launched its 'smart farms' initiative to encourage farmers to think modernA new initiative will work closely with the farming industry and government to explore ways to develop ‘smart farms’ in the UK. Farmers and agri-businesses are facing more challenges, including political climate changes, fluctuating trading patterns and the need to increase efficiency and productivity. The Smart Agri-Systems initiative spearheaded by the University of Leeds seeks to give rural businesses a competitive advantage and to increase value. The aim of the initiative is to work with farms and businesses to develop solutions, from advanced monitoring technology to big data analytics. Examples of smart farming to be looked at include the incorporation of sensors on the farm – either fixed, or on drones and robotic crawlers. These can monitor soil temperature and humidity, map crop growth and density, assess ground water composition, and track the weather, with data analysed to project crop performance. Read more

CIP study: Poor quality seed, bacterial wilt holding back higher potato yields in Africa

Image result for POTATO PRODUCTION IN AFRICA CAN BE INCREASED BY 140%: FIND OUT HOWPotato, the third most important food crop after rice and wheat, is globally consumed by over a billion people. According to FAO statistics, potato production in Africa tripled from 1994 through 2011, from 8 to 24 million metric tons, but largely due to the increase of cropping area. Half of this production comes from sub-Saharan Africa where a recent study carried out by the International Potato Center (CIP) and its partners from 2013 to 2016 has shown that this level of production could be increased by 140% if identified causes of yield gap were addressed. In this study, the research yield gap is defined as the difference between the research yield and the potential yield, whereas the absolute yield gap is derived from the difference between the average farmer’s yield and the potential yield. Modeling work conducted by CIP and its partners in ten SSA countries showed that farmers’ yield gap (24 t/ha) exceeds the current farmers’ yield (8 t/ha). A six month online survey outlined twelve most important yield gap challenges out of an initial list of thirty. Poor quality seed was the top-ranked yield gap cause identified by survey respondents, followed by bacterial wilt. Read more on the CIP website. The full Report can be downloaded as a pdf file

Solar Farms by Agri-Stor provide instant saving to growers

Hindsight has a way of making even the most brilliant of ideas seem obvious and elementary. It’s easy to wonder, “Why didn’t somebody think of this years ago?” In 2016, the folks at Agri-Stor Companies called a meeting to address what was, at the time, a depressed potato market. The Twin Falls, Idaho-based company has developed and built potato storages for over 50 years. There is a prevailing belief at Agri-Stor that they have a responsibility to help growers succeed in whatever ways they can. So in that stressful economic environment for the region’s potato industry, the Agri-Stor folks were looking for solutions just as earnestly as growers were. Jesse Vierstra is a forward-thinking kind of guy. Though he was still a fairly new hire at Agri-Stor at the time, he spoke up and voiced a big idea in that meeting: “Why don’t we get into solar?”  Continue reading

Thirsty spuds: Irrigation a hot topic at SPot Scotland Open Day in Britain

After three weeks without rainfall, AHDB’s Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm Scotland Open Day took place on the light loams of Bruce Farms near Meigle, Perthshire on Tuesday 10 July. Around 70 growers, agronomists and industry representatives attended, as Bruce Farms Potato Manager, Kerr Howatson and industry expert, Dr Mark Stalham of NIAB CUF, headed both morning and afternoon sessions to advise attendees on crop response in dry conditions. With only 39mm of rain at Bruce Farms, June’s rainfall was less than half the 20-year average, a huge difference in terms of what is required. Kerr Howatson said: “We’ve been without rain since the 20 June, so we’re now beginning to see the effects of a prolonged dry spell, something that we’re not really used to. Typically we would only need to irrigate once, maybe twice every four to five years but we’re now looking at our fourth round of irrigation of the season. This is absolutely vital at the moment to keep the soil moisture deficit from rising too high, so the best advice would be to top up little and often.” Read more

Growing food for a growing planet: Three perspectives on modern American farming

Image result for Growing food for a growing planet: Three perspectives on American farmingToday’s agriculture is going through an important revolution. From tech breakthroughs like smart irrigation to robot-enabled harvesting, the industry is using new innovations to help feed a growing population. And it’s a big job. The United Nations says global food output must increase by 60 percent over the next three decades to keep up with the boom. As modern farming evolves, a diverse range of players is stepping up to this challenge with unique approaches to growing sustainable food. There’s Bill Horan, a farmer for decades, who continuously adapts and embraces new technologies, with an eye toward helping future generations carry on the farming tradition. Jay Hill is bringing a fresh sense of entrepreneurship to his traditional farming practice and using social media to show the world all the hard work—and fun—that are part of farming life. And Abbey Carver, an agronomist and recent college grad, is part of the next generation of tech-enabled growers. She mixes her knowledge of ag-tech and hard science with a passion for the land to help keep the world sustainably fed. Read about these people’s perspectives on modern farming in America in this Washington Post article

The new ‘plastic’: These potato based biodegradable bags dissolve in water, burn like paper, and are edible

envigreen1Bags made of potatoes could replace plastic as the biodegradable and recyclable alternative for grocery bags in India – a country where slow yet firm steps are being taken towards getting rid of plastic grocery bags. These environment friendly bags are manufactured and distributed in several cities in India by startup business EviGreen. The bags look like plastic bags, but are made of materials like natural potato and tapioca starch and vegetable oil derivatives. If placed in a glass of water at normal temperature, an EnviGreen bag dissolves in a day. And when placed in a glass of boiling water, it dissolved in just 15 seconds. These bags take less than 180 days to biodegrade naturally once discarded. So users can throw them away without worrying about harming the environment. The bags are even edible and will cause no harm to animals if ingested.  Continue reading

Sobering thought: This Fryday, embrace the crinkle cut, the french fry ideal!

Image result for crinkle cut friesBaptized in oil, anointed with salt, the fry stands alone. Of all the culinary wonders and the many connections made in our lives by food, fries are the threads that bind the steak frites of Paris bistros and the rural American roadside dive. The humble potato, pulled from the earth and living at the very center of our deep fried hearts. National Fry Day is July 13 this year in a mystical aligning of planets or french fries, falling on a Friday. Literally Fryday. For the blessings of hand-cut, shoestring, big ole steak fries and curly, for all the good done by duck fat and the endless charm of cousin tater tot, there is but one french fry ideal. Excuse me, frydeal. That is the crinkle cut, the jagged, unapologeticly-frozen-yet-redeemed-by-hot-oil pinnacle of crunch, starch and salt. Those ridges and valleys, all those pointy ends all add up to the pound for point most perfect fry… Read further

Washington and Oregon Potatoes: 2018 business updates

Oregon-potato-field-commisionThe Oregon Potato Commission is devoting 45% of its dollars to applied research for growers, said Bill Brewer, executive director of the Portland-based commission. Scientists are trying to figure out how to solve particular pest problems that growers face, he said. With acreage about steady, growing conditions have been excellent this year for russet norkotahs near Pasco, Wash., said Ralph Schwartz, vice president of sales with Potandon Produce, Idaho Falls, Idaho. Columbia Basin crop conditions are favorable for Troutdale, Ore.-based Strebin Farms LLC, according to Dan Strebin, owner and manager of the operations. Though overall acreage is steady, Dale Hayton, sales manager for Valley Pride Sales, Burlington, Wash., said the company may harvest a few more gold and white potatoes and fewer red potatoes. The Washington Potato Commission plans to promote the athletic performance benefits of potatoes. Read more

All about sustainability: Lamb Weston / Meijer supports potato growers with sustainable development plan

Sustainable potato production with healthy yields. This is the objective with which Lamb Weston / Meijer wants to support the company’s contract growers. This is why the Dutch based potato processor developed a comprehensive ‘Sustainable Agriculture’ plan in collaboration with the Center for Agriculture and Environment (CLM) in the Netherlands, which is now being turned into practice in collaboration with contract growers. The Sustainable Agriculture plan was launched this year in the Netherlands and will be rolled out internationally in the coming years. On Tuesday, July 10, Lamb Weston / Meijer officially presented its Sustainable Agriculture Plan to the outside world at the arable crops farm ‘Monnikenhof’ of grower Arnold Timmerman in Kattendijke, Zeeland. The central theme of Sustainable Agriculture is soil health. “That is the core of this plan, which is aimed at making sustainable agriculture commercially feasible,” says Dirk Peters, agronomist at Lamb Weston / Meijer. Read more

Potatoey wrap: Printing specialist introduces eco-friendly magazine wrap made from potato starch

Birmingham-based direct mail fulfilment and print management services provider bakergoodchild has introduced a compostable and eco-friendly magazine polywrap produced from potato starch from waste potatoes. The biodegradable mailing wrapping material is being used by a number of bakergoodchild customers. The decomposable magazine packaging wrapper carries no oil-based materials, plastics or harmful toxins. bakergoodchild sales director Adam Stafford: said: “…we have introduced a potato starch based polywrap, which is 100% biodegradable and provides a premium look and feel. As a brand we are fully behind improving the environment and are working with partners and customers to achieve various goals, which has resulted in a good uptake in using the potato starch based polywrap.” Full article