Idaho’s Norkotah crop looks good, Burbank crop may be lighter

yyyThe 2018 Idaho potato harvest got under way with Russet Norkotahs in early August, and by the first week in September, most growers in the state had started digging Norkotahs. While there is always variation from one field to another, growers were generally reporting good volumes with a good size structure and very good quality. Russet Burbanks, which are harvested later, could be another matter. While early test digs showed indications of a large crop of good-sized potatoes, after the first of August the Burbanks appeared to stop growing, and as of late August, test digs were showing small size and low yields in many fields. Growers remained hopeful that in the time remaining before harvest, the potatoes would size up enough to produce a fairly normal crop. Acreage-wise, Idaho growers planted 311,316 acres of potatoes in 2018, up 3,550 acres from the prior year, but most of that is for processing, and fresh acreage is down 8,877 acres, according to Rick Shawver of United Potato Growers of Idaho. Read report in The Packer

Bord Bia gears up for Ireland’s National Potato Day 2018

Spuds up: Bord Bia gears up for National Potato Day 2018Bord Bia has announced the details of this year’s National Potato Day which takes place on Friday, October 5. The annual celebration honours Ireland’s most loved crop and encourages consumers to recognise its nutritional value and experiment with new and exciting recipes. This year Bord Bia is asking people to “Imagine a world without potatoes?” Tying in with a global campaign theme which highlights the importance and value of the worlds third most important food crop  – which places after rice and wheat in terms of human consumption. On the day, a range of events, talks and promotional activity will take place around the country to celebrate Ireland’s champion vegetable. Read more

International potato sales highest ever for the United States

Image result for potatoes usaAccording to a press release issued by Potatoes USA today, the value of total U.S. exports of potatoes and potato products increased by 2.37% for the July 2017 – June 2018 marketing year compared to the previous marketing year. The $1.8 billion in international potato sales is the highest ever for the United States. The biggest gain came in fresh exports up 8.5%, with dehy up 6% and frozen up 1.8%. The only decline was a drop of 4% in the value of chip exports. However, the fresh weight equivalent volume of exports declined by 0.86% to 3,246,830 metric tons or 71.6 billion hundredweight. This represents approximately 20% of total U.S. potato production for the marketing year. The only products to show export volume increases were dehydrated potatoes up 2% and seed potatoes also up 2%.  Continue reading

UK Potato Weekly report: Lifting continues, albeit off the pace

Image result for potato harvest ukAHDB Potatoes in the UK published its Potato Weekly report on Friday. According to the report, lifting across the UK has continued this week although it remains behind normal levels. Growers continue to wait for tubers to gain bulk and for skins to set, following the drought and subsequent rains. For many, secondary growth is a concern, particularly for non-irrigated crops. That said there have been reports this week of secondary growth issues on irrigated land. Old crop availability continues to stretch, albeit with some usual deterioration. In the East, irrigation was still ongoing for some. In the West, lifting of main crop is underway and gathering pace. Yields are proving to be variable. In the South, lifting has progressed with earlies and early maincrop nearing completion. In Scotland, variability of the crop is beginning to be seen in early lifting and trial digs. While the overall yield is probably faring better than the rest of the UK, it will likely be below average. Read the full Potato Weekly report

Only in Canada: Alberta farmers fret over late-summer snowfalls

Some Alberta farmers in Canada are concerned about their crops after a late-summer snowfall blanketed parts of the province, with more flurries expected in the forecast. Early season snow can squash crops that grow upright, like wheat and barley, make them harder to harvest and decimate their quality, leaving farmers with a less valuable product. For some farmers, the snow provided a little relief. Potato farmer Gord Visser spent some sleepless nights recently worrying that impending frost could destroy a large chunk of his current potato crop, but the snow has now provided a blanket to insulate his spuds from the cold. Still, the weather delayed how soon he could harvest his 500 acres by about a week, he said, because it’s too muddy to work. He’s still got 60 per cent of the crop left to bring in and typically aims to be finished by the end of September. Now, it looks like the harvest won’t be done until October, when the risk for colder weather is higher. Read more

Austria’s potato harvest 2018 turning out far below expectations

Image result for austria potatoThis year, decision-makers from the Austrian potato industry again gathered in Roseldorf/Lower Austria at the end of August to discuss the state of the national and international potato markets, reports AgrarMarkt Austria. All provided various contributions and evaluated the current situation in Austria’s potato industry. After a good starting price of 35-40 EUR/dt at the beginning of June, prices stabilized four weeks later at 18-20 EUR/dt. At the end of July, however, there was no longer talk of any oversupply. As the season progressed and there were problems due to the heat, both stocks and prices changed. At the beginning of August, the extreme drought had spread to almost all large growing areas. In many places, the damage had already been done. This year’s harvest will go down into domestic potato history as consistently difficult. Read more

Germany faces ‘severe potato shortage’ and increase in consumer prices, farm organization warns

Related imageGermany faces a severe potato shortage as a consequence of unusually hot and dry weather this summer, the German Farming Society (DLG) warned on Wednesday. “We are expecting one of the smallest potato harvests of all times in Germany”, Martin Umhau, a member of the DLG supervisory board, told the German press agency (dpa). According to Umhau, an anticipated fall in potato yields from 11.7 million tons in 2017 to 8.5 million tons in 2018 could hereby lead to an increase in consumer prices by up to 30 percent. Umhau was speaking ahead of the start of PotatoEurope 2018 in Germany this past Wednesday. Potato farmers are one of several agricultural sectors in the country who said they face the prospect of widespread crop failures due to the hot and dry summer. Federal and state-level governments announced that they would set aside 340 million euros (394 million U.S. dollars) in financial aid for farmers who suffered particularly heavy losses. Read more

Blame the European heat wave for pricier fish and chips

Image result for fish and chipsThe record-breaking heatwave and lack of rain across Europe has hurt potato crops, with prices tripling in the U.K. in August from a year earlier. That’s forced fish and chip shops to charge more for a portion of fries that form one half of the traditional British staple. Further price hikes loom, said Andrew Crook, president of the federation representing more than 10,000 fish and chip shops across the UK. “It’s going to be a disaster for us this year,” said Crook. “I’ve never seen prices of potatoes be that high at this time of the year. We are getting squeezed.” With Europe accounting for eight of the 10 biggest potato eating nations, there’s likely to be fierce competition for the starchy tubers this season. “We will be fighting for potatoes with Europe,” said Crook, the president of the National Federation of Fish Friers. “There are not enough potatoes to go around, and everything is quite small.” Read more

San Luis Valley potato growers expect good 2018 crop

San-Luis-Valley-potato-harvestCooperative weather during the growing season has San Luis Valley potato industry members anticipating a good crop. Companies expected solid quality and about the same volume as in 2017, with demand also holding steady. Jim Ehrlich, executive director for the Monte Vista-based Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, said there are about 52,000 acres planted this year. “We’ve had a warm summer that at our elevation is a little bit unusual, and it’s been really dry, but the crop looks really good,” Ehrlich said. “We’ve had adequate irrigation water and very few storm events, so I think we’re going to have an exceptional crop.” Ehrlich expected volume for the region to be steady, with acreage roughly the same as 2017. Jamey Higham, president and CEO of Monte Vista, Colo.-based Farm Fresh Direct, also reported that growing conditions have been solid. Read more

Water a concern for Colorado potato growers

Colorado-Potato-fieldSan Luis Valley potato growers need Colorado to get more snow this coming winter than it got this past winter. Jim Ehrlich, executive director for the Monte Vista-based Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, said the cost of irrigation has increased significantly as the industry has taken measures in recent years to ensure the sustainable use of groundwater. Snow melt was not as much of a help as growers would have liked, thanks to a hotter and drier winter than normal. “You get credit for some of the surface water you have, but in a year like this where we didn’t have much surface water in the system, growers really didn’t get much credit for it, so it’s going to make their overall costs more expensive this year,” Ehrlich said. Growers indicated more surface water will be crucial for the 2019 crop. Read The Packer report

Trade issues: US senator calls for probe of alleged Canadian potato dumping

US and Canadian trade negotiators might need to add spuds to a list that already includes cheese, steel and softwood lumber, according to a news report published by the Cochrane Times-Post. A Republican senator has reportedly asked his government to investigate allegations by American farmers that Canadians are illegally dumping potatoes into their market, potentially opening a new front in the two nations’ trade war. A Democratic member of the senate has added her voice, too, suggesting there’s a “strong case” that Canadians are unfairly taking away American share of the tuber market. US producers point to the surge in imports from across the border in recent years, and say they suspect the lower price of Canadian potatoes is due to government subsidies or dumping. And they charge that Canadian rules have all but closed the market here to them. Canadian farmers reportedly responded that they are partly just benefiting from a favourable exchange rate, and say there is nothing to the subsidy allegation. Read full media report

Below average potato crop expected for Canada’s largest potato producing province

It is getting late in the growing season, and the Prince Edward Island Potato Board says without some rain soon the harvest will come up short. According to a CBC report, board general manager Greg Donald says “it’s been relatively dry, and since August we’ve had spotty rainfalls across the province and above normal temperatures and wind, and that’s created dry conditions.” There was very little rain in July, and Agricultural Canada classified most of the Island as abnormally dry at the end of the month. There was rain in August. Donald said even the rain that has fallen has been spotty, with some areas getting quite a bit and others hardly any at all. “I’d say at this point it’s going to be a challenge to get an average crop on P.E.I. overall. Some areas are going to do OK, the ones that got the rain. Other areas, it’s really impacted the crop where there hasn’t been rain.” Time has already run out this year for some early varieties of potatoes, Donald said. Read CBC report

How to manage pink rot in potatoes

potato-pink-rotThis pathogen thrives in saturated soils, so the disease is often associated with low spots in the field or in areas of poor drainage. Disease incidence is greatest at temperatures between 70°F and 85°F. You may not notice pink rot until harvest or when the tubers are in storage, but it starts in the field. Infections often originate at the stolon attachment but also may occur at the eyes or through wounds. There are several tell-tale indicators of pink rot, says Carrie Huffman Wohelb, Associate Professor/Regional Specialist – Potato, Vegetable, and Seed Crops, at Washington State University. According to her, the most frequently used oomycete fungicides for managing pink rot in the US are mefenoxam (e.g., Syngenta’s Ridomil Gold, Nufarm’s Ultra Flourish) and metalaxyl (e.g., LG Life Sciences’ MetaStar). Mefenoxam is also known as metalaxyl-M and is chemically similar to metalaxyl. Wohelb warns that growers should be aware of resistance issues. Read more

Tereos to start potato campaign in France

Tereos has started its potato campaign in France which will be spread over 160 days with almost 9,600 hectares of starch potatoes expected to be exported. To ensure the competitiveness of this cooperative sector, Tereos has invested a total of €25 million (US$28.9 million) over the last three years and is taking further steps to enlarge the company’s total storage capacity. According to the latest European Union estimates, the performance of the 2018-2019 campaign will no doubt be less than the average of the last five years. Tereos is employing new agronomic and environmental measures to promote production, according to the company. Read more

Europe: French fries feel the pinch as hot summer frazzles potato market

file6ucrflv77s7cmsp8kic.jpgWhether you call them chips, frites or French fries, it’s shaping up to be a bad year for potato lovers. The record-breaking heatwave and lack of rain across Europe has hurt potato crops, with prices tripling in the UK in August from a year earlier. That’s forced fish and chip shops to charge more for a portion of fries that form one half of the traditional British staple. Further price hikes loom, said Andrew Crook, president of the federation representing more than 10,000 fish and chip shops across the country. “It’s going to be a disaster for us this year,” said Crook, who started helping in the family chippy at the age of nine. “I’ve never seen prices of potatoes be that high at this time of the year. We are getting squeezed.” In the UK, a metric ton of fresh potatoes surged to 300 pounds (S$536.32) last month, the third-highest on records going back to the 1950s. Read more