‘Rooted apical cuttings’: Promising technology with potential to boost quality potato seed production

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

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

Scottish seed potatoes said to flourish in Kenyan heat

Scottish seed potatoes sent to Kenya have performed strongly on three trial sites, AHDB has revealed. The farm levy organisation has been working with Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) to open the Kenyan market for GB seed potatoes since a bilateral agreement was signed by the Scottish and Kenyan governments in 2016. Well-known British varieties were exported to Kenya and planted on three different farms to assess the yield and quality of each. Cara had the strongest performance with average yields across all three farms at more than 20 tonnes per acre. AHDB said the yields were similar to those achieved in Britain, but much higher than those normally achieved by farmers in Kenya who typically experience yields of around 4tonnes per acre. This is blamed on the fact that 95% of farmers in the country use poor quality home-saved seed, rather than high-quality imported seed. More

Germicopa expects big growth in potato seed sales

Florimond Desprez, the general director of potato seed and breeding company Germicopa, expects that the company’s seed sales will grow in the near future to reach 80,000 tonnes by 2020/21, up from 63,000 tonnes last year. Germicopa is established in Bretagne, France and part of the Florimond Desprez Group. According to Florimond Desprez, “Traditionally, Germicopa focused on salad potatoes. Examples of this are Charlotte, Chérie and Amandine. Now we are also turning to other markets and developing potato varieties not only for the fresh market but also for industrial processing. Daisy is used to make French fries and Amyla is well developed on the starch market, notably in France where it is the number one variety.” During the Fruit Logistica, Germicopa put their organic varieties in the spotlight. Germicopa seed potatoes are produced by its own network of producers (c.180 growers in France). The company markets seed in 70 countries. More

Agrico presents its next generation of potato varieties

Agrico was exhibiting at Fruit Logistica in Berlin from Wednesday 7 to Friday 9 February 2018. During this leading international trade fair, Agrico, together with its subsidiaries, showed its future orientated growth power. Many years of intensive breeding efforts have resulted in Agrico being the first company to offer a complete package of phytophthora resistant varieties, the company says in a press release. In addition to their extremely high resistance to late blight these varieties offer outstanding consumption traits and good yields. This package allows Agrico to offer its customers a sustainable and diverse range with a variety of flavours, appearances and processing options. The package of varieties with high phytophthora resistance consists of Carolus, Alouette, Twinner, Twister, the recently introduced variety Levante and the new starch variety Nofy. Press release

GMO potato can help Bangladeshi farmers cut pesticide use

Bangladesh is the world’s seventh-largest producer of potatoes. Most of the crop is grown by small-holder farmers. To help small-holder farmers, the Feed the Future Biotechnology Potato Partnership based at Michigan State University in the US, is using the tools of biotechnology to develop a genetically engineered potato resistant to late blight disease. The Partnership will develop and bring to market a three-R gene late blight resistant potato to smallholder farmers in Bangladesh and Indonesia. By growing a disease-resistant variety, farmers will be able to reduce their use of fungicides and improve their yields, which means more money in their pockets at harvest time. Small-holder farmers anticipate better harvests with LBD-resistant potatoes. Agriculture minister Matia Chowdhury recently reaffirmed the government’s support for genetically engineered (GMO) crop technologies to ensure sufficient food for the people of Bangladesh. More

New Canadian potato varieties ‘could improve taste of french fries’, breeder says

Potato growers and industry in Canada gathered at the Fredericton Research and Development Centre for the Potato Selection Release Open House on Wednesday to learn about what new varieties are available for trial that could improve yields and taste — including a new variety that could improve the taste of French fries. The annual potato selection event was hosted by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and gave potato producers the chance to learn about 15 new selections of what researchers are calling “promising potatoes.”  The new varieties include five French fry potatoes, two types of spuds for those in the potato chip sector, six fresh market selections, and two potatoes with coloured flesh.  Continue reading

North America: A new potato variety to replace the Russet Burbank?

Image result for russet potatoesThe potato industry will have plenty of choices when Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada hosts the annual potato selection event on February 14 at the Fredericton Research and Development Centre in the Canadian province of New Brunswick. Fifteen selections from the potato breeding program in Canada are available for trial, offering growers a wide range of promising new potato varieties. There are five new french fry potato varieties this year: two for the potato chip sector, six fresh market selections and two potatoes with coloured flesh. The star of the show may be a potato which, reportedly, has the potential to replace the Russet Burbank, the king of potatoes – at least in Canada and the US. This new potato variety from Canadian breeders is said to stand up well to Verticillium wilt, a soil-borne fungus that can cut into yield, especially in Atlantic Canada.  It is also less prone to tuber defects, reducing the amount of waste in the field. More

Canadian bred potato varieties in the spotlight at annual event

Using a combination of traditional crop breeding techniques, as well as new and emerging technologies, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) releases to the marketplace 10 – 15 new potato selections annually. These annual releases have been carefully chosen from a starting population that may number 120,000 new seedlings. On February 14, these selections will be presented to the Canadian potato industry and others with an interest in new Canadian varieties. The event will take place simultaneously at three locations across Canada when visitors will be able to follow presentations by breeders and other industry specialists via video link, and also view this year’s selections on location. Locations and times can be found on the website of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The full programme is available from Andrea Dilworth: andrea.dilworth@agr.gc.ca 

10th World Potato Congress a tribute to Peru, the origin of modern-day potatoes

 A farmer picks potatoes on community land in the high Andean region of Huancavelica, the area of Peru with the most native varieties of potatoes. Credit: Mariela Jara / IPSPotatoes were first taken out of Peru, their Andean region of origin, 458 years ago and introduced to the rest of the world, and then went on to feed the world, according to a news report by the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency. Half a millennium later, potatoes have spread throughout the planet but there are challenges to preserve the crop’s biodiversity as a source of food security, as well as the rights of the peasants who sustain this legacy for humanity in Peru. The hosting of the 10th World Potato Congress between May 27 and 31 in the ancient city of Cuzco, the centre of what was the Inca empire in the south of the Peruvian Andes, is a recognition of Peru as the main source of potatoes. Peru maintains the largest amount of potato germplasm in the world, and great commercial potential.  Continue reading

HZPC to venture into the export of true potato seed?

According to a news report published yesterday on the Dutch agriculture website Agf.nl, potato seed breeder and supplier of seed and ware potatoes, HZPC, intends to export true potato seed (TPS) in the near future. The company, based in the Netherlands with subsidiaries in several other countries, reportedly see opportunities for the export of true potato seed to countries in particularly the Central African region as well as Asian countries where strict sanitary plant regulations are in place. According to the report, it is expected that the trade in true potato seed might in time ‘even surpass traditional seed potato trade’ in these countries. Source: AGF report (in Dutch).

New pest and disease resistant potato variety touted as ‘the best in Costa Rica’

Related imageThe Elbe potato variety is said to be the best potato variety bred locally in Costa Rica if compared to other popular varieties, such as the Floresta (white potato), Granola (yellow potato), or Unica varieties (red skin). Elbe was bred over the course of ten years by researcher Arturo Brenes, from the Laboratory of Plant Biotechnologies (LBP) of the Center for Agronomic Research in Costa Rica, and lisenced to Agroservicios del Surco SA. According to Brenes, the variety proves to be largely immune to commonly found pests and diseases in Costa Rica, including late blight and leaf miner, and its resistance will generate significant cost savings for farmers when it comes to output on pesticides and fungicides. Field trials conducted by Brenes confirmed that Elbe wasn’t affected by fungi or soil bacteria either. The variety is said to have a high dry matter content and low levels of reducing sugars, characteristics essential for the potato processing industry. Elbe is high yielding – up to 50 tons per hectare during a 120-day life cycle. More