New storage service launched for British potato growers

Related imageAHDB’s Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research has announced the launch of a new potato storage service called VarietyCheck for the forthcoming season. According to AHDB, new regulations on acrylamide and fewer sprout suppressants it is more important than ever to get the right storage conditions for your variety of choice. The new service will be tailored to crop variety and dormancy, as well as end use. The VarietyCheck service will objectively assess grower’s new varieties or potato stocks under defined and accurately controlled storage conditions with processing or fresh pack storage options. For processing crops, selecting a variety with long dormancy and an ability to store at lower temperature without sweetening helps your customers overcome these challenges. Similarly, for fresh pack varieties, maintaining appearance and avoiding black heart are high on markets’ wish-lists.  Please contact Adrian Briddon on 01406 359412 to discuss your VarietyCheck requirements.

The humble potato is exalted in the mountains of Peru

Native to the Andes in Peru and northwest Bolivia, potatoes were domesticated more than 10,000 years ago. And yet new varieties are being discovered all the time. Potato banks — like the one in the Pisac region of the Andes that stores seeds in a climate-controlled vault for 1,300 varieties of potatoes — are always searching for new varieties, as are dozens of creative Peruvian chefs on the lookout for wild and unusual indigenous ingredients. Freeze-drying the potato for chuño was just one method used to increase its life after harvest. Running or walking was the chief mode of transportation for most ancient Andean peoples (certainly the Incas); they could easily carry dried potatoes with them and make a quick stew with local herbs, chiles and water from a mountain stream whenever hunger called. Dried potatoes in Peru come in many forms. They can look like pebbles — hard and smooth, in white or purple. They can look like large gravel, with different colors. But they can also be soft, tasting and smelling as funky as fermented bean curd or ripe cheese. Each has a different flavor and texture. More

Low-carb potatoes on the rise around the world

Image result for low carb potatoesLow-carb potatoes are getting attention throughout the world. In recent years, a number of varieties were introduced that are lower in carbs than conventional potatoes. Agrico introduced new potato variety Carisma a few years ago, and this contains naturally slowly digestive carbs. When developing the variety, Agrico worked with partners in Australia. Carisma is available at supermarket chains Albert Heijn and Emté in the Netherlands. Carisma is also being grown in Canada. The Scottish company Grampian Growers announced a new potato variety in 2015. Research shows the Gemson potato is similar to the Maris Peer potato regarding nutritional values, but that the Gemson has fewer carbohydrates. Potandon Produce from Idaho introduced a new potato variety in the autumn of 2017, and this potato – the CarbSmart potato – is said to contain 55 per cent fewer carbs than rice or pasta. In New Zealand, a new low-carb potato of T&G Global – Lotato – became a success within a few weeks. Years ago, HZPC developed and introduced the Sunlite concept: Potatoes with 30 per cent fewer calories than regular potatoes. The concept was introduced in the US, Spain, Italy and Cyprus. More

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

Canadian breeder brought botanical potato seed to China for variety now worth billions in benefits

Junhong Qin, Research Assistant, CIP, surveys a local potato farmer.In the mid 1980’s, potato breeder and grower Peter VanderZaag, based in Ontario, Canada brought the botanical seed of the Cooperation-88 (C88) potato variety to Yunnan province in China. The C88 variety developed from that seed eventually became one of the most important potato varieties in Asia and it ended up being grown on 1 million acres (200,000 ha) of land annually. The estimated present value of benefits from planting C88 in Yunnan ranges from a low of US$ 2.84 billion to a high of US$ 3.73 billion. In a recent report published by the CGIAR, the impacts of this variety, developed by CIP in partnership with Chinese researchers, is assessed. It is said that tremendous benefits have been generated by the variety – and are still accruing. Starting in the mid-1980s, in response to the devastating effects of late blight, the International Potato Center (CIP) and Yunnan Normal University collaborated to develop the Cooperation-88 (C88) as a late blight resistant variety. C88 was officially released in 2001 and quickly became popular. Its success was attributed to its high yield, high quality, and good taste, in addition to late blight resistance. Read full report

Cornell potato virus Y Detection Training Workshops on again this year

Newer strains of potato virus Y spread by aphids cause damage to the flesh of the tubers. Photo courtesy Washington State UniversitySeveral newly evolved strains of the disease known as potato virus Y, or PVY, have emerged and are threatening the North American potato industry. These new strains can render potatoes unmarketable and reduce crop yield. What’s worse is the new viruses are particularly difficult to detect with the naked eye. Training workshops by Cornell College of Agriculture this year will cover field identification of PVY (strains O, N-Wi and NTN), including visual identification of foliar symptoms on 20 cultivars commonly grown in each region (NW, Mid-West and NE). Workshops will be hosted in Washington State, Wisconsin and Maine. A high attendance rate is expected because recent standardization of seed certification programs across the U.S. includes the requirement for documentation of inspector training. Continue reading

New greenhouse complex inaugurated at Agrico Research breeding station

Potato Cooperative Agrico inaugurated its new greenhouse complex at the Agrico Research breeding station in the Netherlands last Friday, April 6. This was followed by an Open Day on Saturday at the research station. During the past 18 months, the greenhouse complex at Agrico Research has been expanded and completely renovated. The area under glass has doubled in size. Investments have also been made in the latest technology to enable more cross breeding so that new varieties can be bred more efficiently and effectively. The Agrico cooperative was founded 45 years ago on 2 April 1973. Said Managing Director Jan van Hoogen:“The extended facilities equip us for the long-term so we can breed the ideal, strong varieties of the future. There is huge demand for our varieties globally, and that is set to rise in the years ahead. The world’s population is growing and potatoes are the most nutritious crop that can be cultivated under the most sustainable conditions.” (Source: Agrico)

Why Potato Virus Y needs your attention

Potato virus Y (PVY) is one of the most common problems in potato fields, but few people know it when they see it. With plenty of other things to worry about, some growers may not consider PVY a serious threat and have not learned to recognize the symptoms. But this attitude is changing as more potato crops are impacted by the virus. PVY has been around a long time but only recently has become a serious problem for potato growers in North America. There are some reasons for this. Hidden infections go undetected too long. Visual detection of infected plants is more difficult since the adoption of new cultivars that show no symptoms or only mild symptoms when infected with PVY. Moreover, new PVY strains that only cause minor symptoms in potato foliage have become more prevalent. Both of these circumstances have allowed the amount of PVY circulating in potato-growing regions to increase. It’s a “Typhoid Mary” effect where asymptomatic plants become an important reservoir for the virus. More

The russet still Idaho’s Goliath potato, but its colorful David challengers making headway

Colorful SouthWind fingerlings vertical IMG_0718Move over, russets. When you shop in a supermarket produce section or order from a fine-dining restaurant menu, you’ll see small, colorful potatoes and fingerlings vying for your attention. That’s making an impact on Idaho’s iconic potato-growing industry, which is noticing the little spuds’ rising prices and profit potential. Russets still dominate, with 92 percent of Idaho’s potato crop and 71 percent nationwide devoted to the familiar brown spud. Smaller potatoes, which include varieties sold fresh but also used for French fries and potato chips, account for 8 percent of Idaho acres planted and 29 percent nationally. because the small potatoes carry a premium price, their share of the overall potato market in dollars has increased to 15 percent, from 10 percent four years ago, according to Potandon Produce, a large Idaho shipper. Small potatoes became popular in Europe decades ago and have made inroads in the United States over the past 20 years. More

US retail shows surprising russet gains; ‘mini’ potatoes keep climbing in sales

Reversing recent market share erosion, potato category leader fresh russet potatoes showed modest volume gains in July through December. “We are seeing growth in categories we haven’t seen growth in for a while, which has been nice,” said Ross Johnson, global marketing manager for Potatoes USA, Denver. “We haven’t seen (russets) grow for a long time.” In visits across the U.S., Johnson said Potatoes USA has been working with retailers to help them take advantage of how the potato category can drive produce department profits. “I think there is an understanding (retailers) need to focus more on the potato category to help it grow even stronger.” Johnson said spuds help drive sales of other foods that can be paired with potatoes. From the middle of 2014 to the middle of 2017, the “mini” category has almost doubled, reaching nearly 16% of potato category sales, Ralph Schwartz, vice present of sales for Potandon Produce said  “No one is sure what the overall percent of the category it is going to capture but it keeps climbing,” he said. More

Researchers from the US, Indonesia and Bangladesh creating GMO potato to fight late blight

Image result for potato late blightResearchers from the U.S., Indonesia and Bangladesh is creating a genetically-engineered potato to fight the late blight. The disease remains an issue for farmers worldwide, especially in Bangladesh, where many struggle with hunger. “Late blight is the number one constraint for potato production, and Bangladesh has a perfect environment for this disease,” said Jim Bradeen, co-director of the University’s Stakman-Borlaug Center and a scientific advisor for the project. The United States Agency for International Development’s Feed the Future partnership, led by Michigan State University, is a collaboration between the University of Minnesota and the University of Idaho, along with the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute and the J.R. Simplot Company. The researchers are working to implement durable disease resistance in potatoes using three disease-resistant genes, Bradeen said. Since the pathogen that causes late blight disease can evolve and become resistant to the genes designed to protect the crop, researchers hope using three genes will be an adequate defense. They hope to introduce the potato in Bangladesh in the next six months to a year. More

New World Bank book on Peruvian agriculture highlights native potato value chains

A book on Peruvian agriculture recently published by the World Bank highlights the dynamism of the sector and its impressive growth in the past decade. However, closer analysis shows how the vast majority of smallholders in the Andean highlands and Amazon have seen little progress. Yet there is some good news for Andean farmers, since a growing number have been able to access better-paying markets for native potato varieties thanks to years of work by the International Potato Center (CIP) and partners. The highlands, where potato is the principal crop of more than 80% of farmers, have higher levels of poverty and malnutrition than the national average. CIP coordinated the Papa Andina Program that brought together public institutions, businesses and NGOs in Peru in a project called INCOPA, in order to tap the potential of the country’s approximately 3,000 potato varieties for reducing rural poverty. Sales of native potatoes increased by more than 70% and prices for them increased 150%. The total value of native potato exports rose from US$821,000 in 2010 to US$2.5 million in 2015, mostly from packaged snacks. More

This nutritive ‘golden potato’ is the latest GMO superfood

Image result for yellow flesh potatoSufferers of malnutrition in the global south could soon find help from an unlikely source: a humble potato, genetically tweaked to provide substantial doses of vitamins A and E, both crucial nutrients for health. Dubbed the “golden potato,” boosted levels of provitamin A carotenoids are converted into vitamin A by digestive enzymes when eaten. The potato was genetically engineered in Italy using a technique called biofortification. It was created in a lab in Italy and studied at Ohio State University, is the most recent staple crop to be genetically transformed into a colorful superfood, joining such creations as antioxidant-rich purple rice and beta-carotene-enhanced golden rice. Continue reading

Small is beautiful: Innovative technology delivers ‘highest quality early generation seed potatoes’

Image result for technituberHaving grown to a team of over 150 people and with established global operations in Canada, China, India, Africa and the Middle East, Technico can provide services to its clients wherever they are located. “Our greenhouse operation in New Brunswick, Canada is run by an all-Canadian team of hardworking, mature women,” says Production Supervisor, Darlene Hogan. “We started our greenhouse operation in April 2003, and have run two growing cycles each year since then. TECHNITUBER® seed technology provides us with a key platform for the rapid introduction of new varieties and the production of high-vigor early generation seed potatoes. Using this award winning technology, we are able to produce affordable clean seed years earlier than traditional methods.”  Continue reading

Canadian breeders developed Colorado potato beetle resistant varieties – after 30 years of trials

 A Colorado potato beetle feeds on potato leaves. (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada photo) It’s taken almost 30 years, but Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) scientists have finally won a monumental battle against the Colorado potato beetle (CPB). Dr. Benoit Bizimungu and Agnes Murphy, potato breeding research scientists at the Fredericton Research and Development Centre, recently developed two selections that are resistant to the major insect pest. Both varieties are available for industry to use in other trials as part of an accelerated potato variety release program. The new resistant varieties were developed as a team effort. Research scientist Dr. Helen Tai is part of the team. While she played an important role in the process, Tai said, “I stand on the shoulder of giants.” Tai stressed that traditional methods were used in all the breeding programs. “There are no GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in the potato breeding program at AAFC,” Tai says. She said the new varieties can be used in conjunction with integrated pest management. More