UK: Branston field manager scoops AHDB award

Branston field manager scoops AHDB awardBranston’s senior field manager Jim Aitken took home AHDB Potatoes’ coveted ‘Above and Beyond’ award at this year’s BP2017 potato show in Harrogate. The award, which is presented to an exceptional performer or an individual who has made a significant achievement over the past five years, went to Aitken for his work at the potato supplier’s Scottish base in Abernethy, Perth and Kinross. He has worked for the company in Abernethy since 2004, when Branston took over the site, and has strived to “maintain a strong working relationship between agronomy, procurement, technical and production,” Branston said. Aitken: “I have worked in this industry for over 30 years, and so to be recognised by AHDB Potatoes with such a prestigious award is a real honour.” More

Colorado hoping NAFTA can open more of Mexico to spuds

colorJim Ehrlich, executive director of the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee says in a report on marketing potatoes in Mexico, “The goal of the project was simply to increase Colorado potato exports to Mexico by providing support to Colorado potato shippers and growers. To achieve the goal we had three key objectives: Hiring a local Mexican consultant…; Working with this consultant to gather information on Mexican potato consumption … and consumers; Taking and sharing the information that was gathered to develop relationships with Mexican potato importers and retailers…” Mexico is a major market for Colorado’s fresh potatoes, and loads are allowed into a 26-kilometer border zone approved for imports. Reassurance has reportedly come from the office of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue concerning NAFTA and the inclusion of potato exports in trade discussions. More

Canadian research looks at the use and loss of nitrogen fertilizer in potato crops

Image result for potato nitrogenPotato plants need a lot of nitrogen to produce tubers at optimum levels, but with more applied nitrogen comes an increased risk of nitrogen loss to the atmosphere. Guillermo Hernandez Ramirez, an assistant professor at the University of Alberta, is studying the use and loss of that fertilizer in potato crops. He is testing various nitrogen fertilizer formulations and biostimulants to gauge their effect on potato productivity and nitrous oxide emissions. “In potato crops we want to be able to figure out what’s the environmental footprint and one of the main components of the environmental footprint is actually greenhouse gas emissions,” Ramirez said during a late August field day at the Crop Diversification Centre in Brooks. A biostimulant called HYT-A, has been tested on potatoes and other high-value crops in Europe, and this was included for the first time in a North American study  More

Demand for complete potato processing lines on the increase, expert says

According to Arjan Brouwer, general sales manager at processing equipment manufacturer Kiremko, the demand for complete potato processing lines has increased over the past few years and with an unprecedented amount of new lines installed including green-field projects. Worldwide, a lot of new potato processing lines are being built, not only by existing potato processors in Europe but also by new players in other parts of the world such as Argentina, China and Turkey. Brouwer says the demand for complete solutions for potato processing lines is growing is underlined by the increase in demand for potato products all over the world. Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands for example, have seen a noticeable growth regarding potato processing capacity. Also, outside Europe we see that China and South America are huge growth markets in terms of consumption of frozen potato products. “Unlike in the old days, designing and manufacturing processing equipment is rather more complex than welding some stainless steel together.” More

Swiss study finds staggering losses of the potato supply from ‘field to fork’

Over 50% of the potato harvest is lost from field to fork, and losses occur in the entire chain, from producers and processing wholesalers, to retailers and consumers. This is the conclusion of a Swiss study by Agroscope and ETH Zurich. Optimization of potato cultivation and consumer behavioral change is said to be the solution. The figures are staggering: 53% of the conventionally produced potatoes are lost, and 55% of the organically produced potatoes. The figures for processing potatoes are slightly lower: of the organic potatoes 41% is wasted and 46% of the conventionally produced potatoes. The difference with conventionally produced potatoes is due to the overproduction, this rarely happens with organic potatoes. The study looked at the production chain in Switzerland. More

New ventilated potato sack helps stop the rot

New ventilated potato sack helps stop the rotA jute bag with ‘ventilated striping’ could help Scottish seed potato exporters minimise bacterial growth during export. European packaging supplier LC Packaging has developed a hessian sack with extra ventilation to prevent seed potatoes from sweating and rotting during transit. The patented LC Vento jute bag, which was developed by the packaging supplier in-house, has looser stitching and ‘ventilated striping’, allowing palletised potatoes to respire more and sweat less when exported. “A serious issue when exporting quality products such as potatoes, onions and carrots, is the so called ‘temperature shock’,” explained communications manager Lotte Mastwijk. “While still in the standard packaging, these products cannot dissipate the exuded humidity and moisture. This can lead to the development of moist and the start of the products’ rotting process.” She added that the bag reduces the chance of mould, “minimising the risk of product quality claims.” More

Aqua-Yield revolutionizes phosphorus retention

Image result for Aqua-YieldWith drastically improved phosphorus retention and application rates at only 4 ounces per acre, Aqua-Yield introduces NanoPhos, now available for a worldwide release. Established research and development results indicate what farmers have been waiting for and wanting for years; NanoPhos maximizes crops’ responses to phosphorus utilized in root, flower and general growth. It improves soil structure and organic matter, and is a critical ingredient in soil microbe populations’ health. “Aqua-Yield is taking a huge step with the release of NanoPhos,” says Clark Bell, CEO and Aqua-Yield co-founder “Why? Because we simply have to become a more efficient nation in how we apply phosphates to our crops. Today’s application methods for phosphorus make it the most wasted crop nutrient in use. More

Global potato processors wring efficiency from eco-friendly upgrades

Image result for drip irrigation potatoesEuropean processors have worked to align themselves with the environmental goals passed by their home countries. Their innovative responses to those new rules have led, in some cases, to increased efficiency and greater productivity. One of those companies, Netherlands-based Lamb Weston/Meijer, wanted to know if using drip irrigation would be an economically feasible solution to water issues for some of their growers. Jolanda Soons-Dings, senior manager sustainability, said the company saw the biggest opportunity for drip irrigation in the United Kingdom where water scarcity and stricter legislation, such as water quotas set by local governments, make water a hot commodity. Company trials in the UK (2015) showed, on average, a 5–10 percent increase in yield using the same amount of water. The potatoes, noted Soons-Dings, were also of better, more consistent quality. More

UK: FSA prepares guide for acrylamide management

The UK Food Standard Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland are working with the British Hospitality Association and other key stakeholders to develop simple guidance which will help the catering and foodservice sectors comply with new rules regarding acrylamide. Food businesses, including potato processors in the UK will be required to put in place practical steps to manage acrylamide within their food safety management systems, under new EU legislation, which will apply from April 2018. The legislation describes practical measures based upon best practice guidance developed by the food industry to mitigate acrylamide formation in a range of foods. Guidelines to aid understanding of the enforcement of the legislation will also be available in the New Year. More

NL: Potato breeder Solynta secures €16 million in backing

Potato breeder Solynta announced the completion of a €16 million series B financing round by new investors Fortissimo Capital and Innovation Industries as well as existing investors. Solynta will use this financing round to continue its potato breeding activities and to build a strong commercial organisation that can address the billion dollar challenges within the potato supply chain. Solynta is headquartered in the Netherlands and has established a hybrid potato breeding based on pure inbred parent lines, a (non-GMO) breeding technology platform. This enables a seed based supply chain which would allow 25 grams of seeds as starting material instead of 2500 kilogram of tubers. More

US: Potato marketers see lower volumes, firm pricing

Tough growing conditions in some regions — and a wide range of temperatures during harvest — led to a U.S. potato crop that marketers describe as about average.Tough growing conditions in some regions — and a wide range of temperatures during harvest — led to a U.S. potato crop that marketers describe as about average. “This year we faced a few obstacles, with frequent springtime rains and higher-than-normal fall temperatures,” said Tim Huffcutt, marketing director with the Bancroft, Wis.-based Russet Potato Exchange Inc. “It affected the overall potato crop portfolio, but we are grateful to be experiencing average yields per acre.” Quality is high, Huffcutt said. “In fact, new crop red potatoes have been some of the best we have seen.” In Friesland, Wis., Alsum Farms & Produce finished its harvest later than normal on Oct. 26 because of unseasonably warm temperatures that reached into the 90s. “Overall, the size profile is larger in size (than) previous years,” said Christine Lindner, national sales and marketing manager with Alsum Farms. More

Chile: Potato producers end a complex season

Potato producers aren’t very happy with how the 2016/2017 season ended. High production and low prices were the keynote of the period, according to The Potato Market 2016/2017 Season, a report published by Javiera Pefaur, of the Department of Market Analysis and Sector Policy of Odepa. “It has been more than five years since the national average prices to wholesalers have been as low as in this season.” The causes of this decrease in prices aren’t completely clear, but authorities estimate it was caused by the increase in production in the south. Another possible cause is that this year’s production increased because many farmers opted to plant potatoes, which they feel is a relatively safe alternative, because their usual crops didn’t have attractive prices. More

US seed potatoes welcomed in foreign markets

Potatoes USA is apparantly breaking new ground in Senegal, Guatemala, Myanmar, and Morocco by introducing new U.S. seed potato varieties over the past two years. These foreign governments are assisting the effort by welcoming more U.S. seed stock in a variety of ways following our International Seed Potato Symposium and state visits this summer. (The Senegalese went to California, the Guatemalans to Washington/Oregon, the Moroccans to Idaho and the growers from Myanmar to Wisconsin.)  Within days of returning from the USA, Senegal’s National Horticulture Director announced a farm subsidy of up to 30% to defray growers cost to purchase U.S. seed potatoes.  In Myanmar, U.S. seed potatoes (and fresh) became the first American horticulture products to be approved under new phytosanitary requirements.  Continue reading

Potato prices slump in India’s Punjab province

Potato prices in India’s Punjab province have plummeted to abysmally low levels leaving farmers distressed. The crop is being sold in the wholesale market at around Rs 2.5 per kg, sometimes even less. Punjab is staring at a repeat of the 2015 winter when farmers dumped hundreds of tonnes of potatoes onto the streets as a mark of protest amid falling prices. Farmers have now again threatened to throw their crop onto the streets in case the government does not intervene with viable solutions. The glut in cold storages has escalated the crisis. Farmers stocked their unsold produce early this year hoping they will get adequate remunerative price later. But that has not been the case. Reports suggest many farmers have even abandoned their stocks lying in cold storage. Hordes of tractor trolleys stocked with potato crop on roads have become a common sight in Punjab. Farmer associations have urged the government to work towards exporting the crop to Pakistan through the Attari-Wagha border. More

US: USDA grant to boost potato breeding research

US Senators Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine say the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding $388,000 to the University of Maine to study ways to improve quality and pest resistance of potatoes. The money will be used to study potato breeding with a goal of increasing productivity and profitability for farms large and small. The senators say the University of Maine will serve as the lead on an eastern potato breeding project focused on developing attractive, productive, disease- and insect-resistant potato varieties. Collins and King say the funding will “build on our strong agricultural traditions so we can make Maine potato products more economically resilient.” (Source: Associated Press)