Severe heatwave in Southern and Eastern Europe ravishes cultivation and trade of fruits and vegetables

The long-lasting heatwave in Southern and Eastern Europe is having a major effect on the cultivation and trade of fruits and vegetables, especially in Italy and the Balkans. Certain harvests are several weeks advanced already, which is why there’s now a larger supply of fruits and vegetables in some countries. However, in the long term, the heat could cause enormous shortages. By now, eleven European countries are giving out warnings for heatwave ‘Lucifer.’ A water shortage is an increasing problem, and there’s been much less rain than usual. Harvests are damaged because of this, and growers expect losses and smaller sizes. The damages and losses up till now are not yet clear. Especially Italy is suffering because of the extreme weather. In June, they were plagued by drought, causing a critical situation. Read full report

‘It’s shaping up to be a good year’ for Washington State potatoes

WSPCopenerLast winter’s heavy snowfall and a wet 2017 spring put Washington potato growers in the fields later than the 2016 season, but reports from the Washington State Potato Commission indicate a good crop is coming in. Chris Voigt, executive director of the Moses Lake, WA-headquartered organization, told The Produce News on July 25 all signs are positive. “We planted later than the past couple of years due to a wetter spring, but most folks are saying that the last two years were exceptions and this year was a shift back to normal,” Voigt said. “The growing season has been good,” he continued, “It got off to a slow start due to the cooler soil temperatures but is really looking good. More

Belgium: “Normal harvest of storage potatoes possible, despite drought”

The early potato harvest suffered most from the drought. There was talk of a loss of 15 million Euro a month ago. There is no new figure at this time. “The potatoes that were in sandy ground have certainly been damaged,” says Romain Cools of Belgapom. Sources estimate a loss of a quarter of the yield. He continues: “Thankfully it rained a little in the last two weeks. Test harvests show that up to 10 tonnes per hectare has been added in recent weeks. This is somewhat positive news. The spuds didn’t grow anymore on some of the plots. Due to the drought and the heat the foliage growth stopped and the stalks were dried out. Plots that were irrigated due to the stoppage of the watering ban are giving a reasonable turnover.” The industry anticipated the shortages, though. Romain certainly isn’t negative about the coming storage harvest. Continue reading

Germany: Organic potatoes damaged by heavy rain and potato beetles

Especially in the Northern parts of Germany, the largest production area of organic potatoes nationwide, there were rainfalls of more than 100 liters per square meter two weeks ago, causing severe damage. At the same time, the potato beetle which is attacking weakened plants, is gaining ground. The very few organic remedies, such as the oil of the neem tree, are almost sold out. If the potato beetle is able to reproduce, it can devour several hectares within a short time period which will then not grow any further. As of now, the later varieties are still very small and need to grow for at least another three weeks before reaching marketable yields. Due to this development, the situation on the German potato market is changing fundamentally. More

Peru: Potatoes, the ‘real gold’ of the Incas

Image result for peru potatoThe humble potato is known the world over, but native Peruvian varieties can look quite a bit different than most of us are used to. Some are red or blue, others are long and skinny. More then 4,500 potato varieties are grown in Peru. The wealth of varieties is a natural treasure that’s worth preserving, especially in the face of climate change, which is posing a serious threat for traditional potato cultivation in the country. Watch 7 min video. Also watch how Nelli Quisbe-Quisbe makes a delicious potato soup called sopa de moraya in the Peruvian city of Cusco.

Northern Ireland: Maincrop potatoes – two weeks ahead of schedule at Wilsons

Angus Wilson, CEO and Lewis Cunningham, Managing Director of Wilson's Country with some of their 'You Say Potato' range. Photograph: Columba O'HareThe first of this year’s maincrop potatoes will be dug during the second week of July, according to Wilson’s Country CEO Angus Wilson. “This is almost a fortnight ahead of the usual start date to the season,” he added. “As a result of the mild spring, crops were planted early and soil conditions have remained excellent. The combination of heat, sunlight and moisture that has characterised the weather over recent weeks has ensured that growth rates have been well above average.” Wilson also confirmed that Northern Ireland’s potato acreage is up 5% year-on-year, with similar increases also being recorded in ROI and GB market. “But the increase in acreage will not automatically translate into an equivalent increase in tonnage later in the year. The weather from now until harvest time will determine the final size of the 2017 crop. Yields are a factor in this equation as will be farmers’ ability to get potatoes actually lifted, should the weather turn bad. More

La pomme de terre face au changement climatique

En congrès à Versailles, 450 chercheurs de 51 pays vont phosphorer toute la semaine sur le devenir de la bonne vieille “patate”. Les membres de l‘EAPR (qui fête ses 60 ans) ont du pain sur la planche. La troisième plante alimentaire consommée au monde (derrière le blé et le riz) n’est pas en effet convoitée que par les hommes. Insectes et champignons la trouvent aussi très à leur goût. Par ailleurs, la hausse des températures malmène la physiologie d’un végétal qui a oublié depuis longtemps que ses origines sont tropicales. Tour d’horizon des problèmes d’un tubercule originaire du Pérou. La pomme de terre est particulièrement sensible à la météo. Cette solanacée utilise les sucres simples (glucose et fructose) produits par photosynthèse pour les stocker dans des tubercules où ils sont recombinés pour produire de l’amidon. Ces diverses transformations sont très sensibles à la température et au taux d’humidité. Entre sa plantation en avril et sa récolte à l’automne, il lui faut des pluies régulières et une température sans grosses variations. Rapport

Northern Ireland: Great weather for spuds sees harvest arrive fortnight early

Harvesting potatoesNorthern Ireland’s main crop potatoes are being harvested two weeks ahead of schedule after a year of perfect growing conditions. The favourable conditions also contributed to an overall 5% increase in the total acreage of potatoes grown here – a trend replicated in the Republic and in Britain. Angus Wilson, chief executive with Wilson’s Country Ltd potato growers in Portadown, said the first potatoes will be harvested during the second week of July. “This is almost a fortnight ahead of the usual start date to the season,” he said. “The combination of heat, sunlight and moisture that has characterised the weather over recent weeks has ensured that growth rates have been above average.” Mr Wilson warned the good conditions and increased acreage could mean an oversupply of potatoes, which may hurt prices for farmers. “The market is finely balanced. It’d take a small degree of oversupply to have a severe impact on grower returns.” More

Spain: Potato prices fall due to oversupply

Potato prices have hit rock-bottom in Spain and Europe due to an oversupply in all early potato producing countries, amongst other factors, explained Ángel Muñoz, director of Intersur, a Spanish potato producer. “We want to inform people about the actual causes of this situation after the statements made in social networks and the media by Asociafruit and certain Andalusian producers, which are very wrong, in our opinion,” explains the representative of Intersur. In Spain, ahead of the new harvest, there has been approximately a 20% increase in the acreage devoted to early potatoes in Andalusia and Murcia. According to Ángel Muñoz, “Most of those responsible for this increase have been producers and operators who don’t have any type of scheduling in place for the cultivation and sale of their crops, and who have done so motivated by the high prices of the previous campaign. At the same time, there has also been an expansion of the acreage in other producing countries.”

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Heavy rain damages potato crop in Ontario, Canada

After a month of good growing conditions and positive reports amid sporadic news on disease potential, word from one of Ontario’s potato-growing regions is that roughly 1,000 acres of potatoes have been lost due to flooding. Drenching rains in midwestern Ontario have left both commercial fields and variety plots ruined. Rainfall amounts from June 22 to 23 varied in the potato-growing areas, with the Orangeville and Beeton districts the hardest hit. Orangeville received 5.5 inches of rain while Beeton, to the northeast, received 3.5 inches. Roughly 100 acres in that region were lost. In other locales, Shelburne’s growers recorded between two and four inches, Simcoe-Delhi saw roughly 1.5 inches; Burford to Aylmer received one to two inches, as did the Alliston-Stayner corridor. At the other end of the spectrum, the Leamington area received less than an inch, and some growers are concerned about the dryness.  Continue reading

Bad year for French potato production

Potato production in France has decreased for the second year in a row to 6.8 million tons, 4% below the volume recorded last year and 5% below the five year average. 2015/2016 had already seen a 12% decrease compared to 2014/2015 due to the drought over the summer in 2015. Despite an increase in acreage (+5% in a year), the decrease in yield is linked to unfavourable weather conditions. Yield has decreased to 39 tons/hectare in 2016/2017 compared to 42.5 tons/hectare in 2015/2016 and a 44 tons/hectare five year average. The decrease in potatoes is also noted in other European countries. Over the first 8 months of the 2016/2017 season prices increased by 41% compared to the year before, more than doubling (+113%) compared to the five year average. It is the second year in a row that prices have increased. (Source:

Already millions lost due to extreme drought in Belgium; early potatoes suffering

During the months of March, April and May, there was much less precipitation than usually. The current month, June, is also very dry so far. Very warm weather has been forecast for this week. The influence on the cultivations is large, and there are many complaints from the potato and fruit sector. In Flanders, the potato sector is already talking about nearly 15 million euro lost. For all agricultural products combined, the Flemish government is talking about nearly 190 million euro. According to Romain Cools of Belgapom, especially early potatoes in sandy soil were affected by the heat and drought. “These early potatoes bridge the old and new season, and are contracted in moderation. It mostly concerns vegetable growers in West-Flanders for who these potatoes are an in-between cultivation. This region issued an irrigation ban just last week, which can influence the yield of potato and vegetable crops even more. In early potatoes, people are talking about a yield loss of 25 per cent.” More

Pepsico: ‘New emission targets keep global warming below two degrees Celcius’

Earlier this week, PepsiCo confirmed that its ambitious new target for greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction has been verified and approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative as being in line with what climate science says is necessary to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius. The global food and beverage company has committed to work to reduce absolute GHG emissions across its value chain by at least 20 percent by 2030. Under its Performance with Purpose vision, PepsiCo has already had significant success in limiting its GHG emissions.  Continue reading

Japan’s potato shortage could last until the fall

Japan's usually robust range of potato chip products is likely to be limited until fall as Hokkaido, the major potato-growing region, recovers from four typhoons that hit it last summer. | ISTOCKHokkaido’s potato farmers haven’t recovered from last summer’s typhoons, which means consumers will have to wait until at least fall before the usual range of potato chip products returns to store shelves. The farm ministry expects the chip shortage to last until the island prefecture’s next harvest gets underway in September. About 80 percent of Japan’s potatoes are grown in Hokkaido. Potatoes used in processed foods account for roughly 30 percent of all production in Hokkaido. More

Potatoes to take root in Cambodia

Cambodia’s eastern Mondulkiri province will become the country’s first hub for potato growing after a successful pilot project, researchers say.  Cheang Hong, of the Potato Research Center at the Royal University of Agriculture, said a team spent several months studying weather conditions, potato varieties and farming.  Mr. Hong said some varieties need cool weather while some need warm weather. They identified Mondulkiri as the best place to plant.  He said the project confirmed that potatoes can indeed be grown in Cambodia, however the researchers were putting more effort into finding varieties to grow in provinces other than Mondulkiri.  The researchers are looking for varieties to grow in warmer climate provinces such as Battambang, Preah Vihear and Pursat.  “To find a proper potato variety to grow in both cool and warm weather provinces will take another three years,” Mr. Hong said.  Researchers brought around 24 varieties of potato from Germany, South Korea and Peru. A few were suitable for the Cambodian climate. More