Bioinsecticide a sustainable solution for organic control of insects

Image result for BioCeres®WP – Biological MycoinsecticideBioCeres WP is an insect-pathogenic bioinsecticide that makes use of the Beauveria bassiana fungus. This fungus strain is naturally occurring in Canada. BioCeres WP is approved for organic production in North America and is said to be perfectly suited for use in IPM programs as a tank mix with other pesticides as well as in specific, stand-alone uses. The fungus used is found naturally in soil and attacks several species of invertebrates. According to the manufacturers of BioCeres WP, BioSafe Systems, this product sticks to insects’ cuticle (outer shell) and the resulting infection causes death. The repressive effect is generally noticed after 7 days and pests will not develop any resistance to the fungus. BioCeres WP is used for the biological control of numerous pests including whiteflies, aphids and thrips and can be used in a wide range of crops, including potatoes, as well as ornamental plants and edibles. More. Watch video

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Upcoming event: Idaho Potato Conference and Ag Expo

The 50th annual University of Idaho Extension Potato Conference is an agricultural based trade show and will take place on Wednesday and Thursday, Jan. 17 and 18 in the ISU Pond Student Union Building. Over 100 exhibitors will take part in the Trade Show. The conference covers a wide range of industry topics ranging from variety development, management practices and economics, marketing and political issues. There are Idaho and Washington Department of Agriculture Pesticide Handler credits available. There is also a series of nine presentations on industry topics presented in Spanish. According to Kasia Kinzer, potato pathologist with the UI Extension in Eastern Idaho, “there are classes on pest management, farm succession, research and development tax credit, fertilizer, fertility, disease issues, as well as insect management and bruise management sessions.” Go here for online registration and programme details.

China intends to grow potatoes on the dark side of the moon by the end of the year

The Chinese lunar rover which is supposed to land on the dark side of the moon by the end of the year. Credit: CASC/China Ministry of DefenseThe moon has been neglected for far too long, and China seems keen on moving fast to cover all the lost lunar ground. The nation’s ambitious space program, among other things, is set on achieving several important milestones. A trifecta, consisting of a lunar probe, lander, and rover, will be deployed to the moon’s orbit and surface respectively. This will be the first time a man-made contraption makes a soft landing on the far or dark side of the moon, a site of renewed interest for many scientists. The mission will also carry insects and plants, including potatoes, that will reportedly form a mini-ecosystem on the moon whose response will teach us valuable lessons in preparations for a manned outpost or even a colony. China plans to live stream the plants’ growth and development. Continue reading

World Potato Congress announces Romain Cools as new President and CEO

World Potato Congress Inc. announces Mr. Romain Cools as new President and CEO, as David Thompson steps down from this position. After 17 years on the World Potato Congress Board of Directors, 12 as vice-president and the last five years as president, David Thompson has decided that it was time for a change. He is pleased to announce that effective January 1, 2018 he is stepping down as President and CEO of the World Potato Congress (WPC) Inc., however he will remain on the board of directors. David Thompson says: “Romain Cools has been involved with the Board of Directors since 2006 and for the past three years, he has served as Vice President of the World Potato Congress Inc.  Mr. Cools resides in Lokeren, Belgium and is the first European President of the WPC Inc. Mr. Cools brings with him 26 years of knowledge of the potato industry and has demonstrated a strong commitment to the advancement and sustainability of the potato in the global environment. “ Continue reading

Tips for applying nutrients to a potato crop

Optimum potato growth and profitable production depend on many management factors, one of which is ensuring a sufficient supply of nutrients. There are 14 soil-derived elements or nutrients considered to be essential for growth of plants. When the supply of nutrients from the soil is not adequate to meet the demands for growth, fertilizer application becomes necessary. Potatoes have a shallow root system and a relatively high demand for many nutrients. Potato Grower magazine, published in the US, takes a look at the six most significant of those nutrients, as well as some—known as micronutrients—needed in much smaller quantities, and the best ways to ensure your potatoes get enough of them during the growing season. This article appears in the January 2018 issue of Potato GrowerThis article is excerpted from Carl Rosen and Peter Bierman’s article, “Potato Fertilization on Irrigated Soils.”  More

Smart panels and irrigation monitoring: A perfect pair

grower and dealer with smart panelWhy pair up smart panels and irrigation monitoring? Well, in short, it’s the same reason any pair is formed – to help consumers save resources by increasing product efficiency. If you want a better idea of how smart panels fit into the picture, maybe the best thing to do is to take a look at some other “smart” technologies on the market. We have smartphones, smart cars and smart homes. These things help save time, gasoline, energy and so much more. So, why not do the same thing with irrigation monitoring? After you’ve finished the maintenance and planning stages, it’s finally time to start irrigating. When the machine is in operation, the focus shifts to monitoring. You’ll end up driving out to the field multiple times a day to check on the center pivot. Is it still moving? Is the water still flowing? Surely, there must be an easier way to handle irrigation monitoring? Well, there is. Enter: the smart panel. By installing a smart panel or other web-based technology on your center pivot, you can rest easy. More

Lamb Weston President expects growth in french fry demand ‘to continue in foreseeable future’

Image result for lamb weston logoLamb Weston Holdings, Inc. announced today its second quarter 2018 results and updated its outlook for fiscal 2018. “Our second quarter and first half results were solid,” said Tom Werner, President and CEO. “Our commercial teams have worked through customer contract negotiations, and now that those discussions are largely behind us, we’re focused on our ongoing commitment to deliver industry-leading service, drive innovation and service limited time offerings with our customers.” Lamb Weston, the frozen-potato company that emerged from Conagra Brands in 2016, said Thursday that fiscal second-quarter income from operations rose 11 percent. The supplier of frozen french fries to McDonald’s and many other restaurants said income from operations was $140 million. Sales rose 4 percent to $825 million for the company based in Idaho.  Continue reading

A potato in the mail: ‘Text-a-Potato’ expands into themed potato gifts

How we started Text-A-PotatoBritish based ‘Text-A-Potato’ is a business that sends personalised, hand written messages on potatoes to anyone in the UK and select European countries. Yes, you read that correctly. The Text-A-Potato team send potatoes with messages in the post. The business has now expanded into themed potato gifts, including spuds for anniversaries, congratulations, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Christmas and even proposals. Text-A-Potato has also started to broaden its offering to include personalised and annoying cards. According to Jonathan Brook and Hayley Hollonds, co-founders of Text-A-Potato, “our potato gifts are sent via a courier and are completely anonymous, unless of course, the customer’s potato message specifically says who it is from. Text-A-Potato is purely an ecommerce company and all of the products are sold exclusively through our website www.textapotato.com.” More

Northern Germany: ‘Wet fields, late crops and mouldy tubers’

Image result for wet potato fieldPotato traders in northern Germany look back on 2017 with mixed feelings. Although yields were sufficient to meet demand, the quality of stored potatoes is in part poor. At Lünekartoffel-Vertrieb GmbH & Co. KG, located in the middle of the important cultivation area Lüneburg Heath, the wet autumn weather is still resonating. “My gut tells me we’re going to see some difficult times,” says managing director Michael Kleinlein. Wet fields, late crops and mouldy tubers. The 2017 potato year was far from ideal, especially for farmers in northern Germany. “We had to deal with double the usual annual precipitation. From September on we hardly had a dry day and therefore the potatoes did not reach the storage rooms under optimal conditions. We already feel the effects and it will get even worse.” Although some lots were almost completely rejected, yields are above average and even better than last year. To compensate for the scarcity of high-quality tubers, potatoes are marketed that would not have been brought to market in other years. More

Canada: Grimme and Spudnik introduce new potato harvester

Big red Grimme potato harvesters are anything but a common sight here in Canada, but spud growers will likely recognize the name of one of Grimme’s brand subsidiaries, U.S.-based Spudnik, which it acquired in 2003. Spudnik has been a major potato equipment supplier in North America for a long time. The Grimme brand harvesters are generally smaller in capacity than their Spudnik cousins and until now have been better suited to European growers’ needs. But at a field day in Germany in September, the company debuted a larger model, the EVO 290.  Continue reading

Scientists eye potato starch as bio-based solution for paints and varnishes

Paints and varnishes based on potato starchIf a surface has to be protected against corrosion, in 80 percent of all cases this takes place through coating it with paints or varnishes. When doing so, the proportion of bio-based, environmentally-friendly solutions is extremely small. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP, in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA, are looking to close this gap and are developing a cost-effective coating based on renewable raw materials. The focus of the research is on potato starch. Continue reading

New bio-fungicide shows strong performance against white molds and soil diseases

Related imageMarrone Bio Innovations (MBI), based in the US, recently announced the launch and availability of a high-performance and cost-effective biological fungicide, Amplitude™, in the 2018 growing season. Amplitude is based on a new strain of Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, discovered by MBI, that has shown strong performance against white molds and soil diseases such as PhytophthoraRhizoctonia (pink rot and black scurf of potatoes), and Fusarium, as shown in field trials in the US, Canada and Europe. “The development of this product is particularly timely in light of the development of resistance to conventional fungicide products. Amplitude can be used alone, but can also be combined with a conventional fungicide for a great ROI,” said André Trépanier, MBI’s Director of Marketing. Testing for soil applications on potatoes for control of Rhizoctonia (Black scurf) and Phytophthora eurythroseptica (pink rot) have delivered excellent results, the company says in a press release. Successful field trials have been conducted in the United States, Mexico, Canada and Europe.  Continue reading

Researchers study potential of “nurse crops” to combat soil erosion

A spring cover crop planted at potato planting time – called a nurse crop – offers a way to reduce soil erosion during the weeks between potato planting and hilling. But what is the optimal way to grow a “nurse crop” to benefit the soil, the potato crop, and the grower’s bottom line? Researchers and growers in New Brunswick in Canada and Maine in the US are working on answering that question. “The best part of the soil is lost when it erodes – you lose your organic matter, your fines [clay particles] and your productive A horizon,” explains John Jemison, an extension professor of soil and water quality at the University of Maine. Continue reading

NL: Agrico presents record results at members’ meeting

Agrico held its central general members’ meeting last week. At this well-attended meeting, the annual report 2016/2017 was discussed. In a press release, the potato cooperative says the 2016/2017 financial year will be noted as one of the most successful years in Agrico’s history. Never before has Agrico marketed such a high volumes of seed potatoes, and could pay out such high dividends to members for both seed and table potatoes. The consolidated turnover rose by more than 20 million euros to reach 289 million euros. The national and international subsidiaries accounted for 30% of the turnover. The increased turnover can be fully attributed to the seed potato product group. The demand for Agrico’s seed potato varieties was strong in all sales regions and growth in the processing industry was also capitalised on to the full. More

The science behind why chip bags are mostly air

We have all been victims of potato chips bags, among others, which have packages so big only to have the actual chips occupying barely half of the bag. It’s pretty disappointing for us as consumers, but perhaps we have to live with that: because the packaging is designed that way. That extra space in packaging called slack fill is legally defined by the Food and Drug Administration as the difference between the actual capacity of a container and the volume of product contained therein. Packaging engineers have studied that it is important to have slack fill in the chips bags for two essential reasons: protection during shipping and preservation of product quality. And no, it’s not just any air inside the bags. It’s nitrogen. Such gas, which comprises about 78% of the air we breathe, helps the edibles stay fresh, as confirmed in a study by a trained panel of testers in 1994. It helps prevent combustion, too. Also, if packaging engineers used oxygen, the food would be susceptible to spoilage. More