Major Dutch potato companies and organizations establish new research association

Ten Dutch potato companies as well as organizations have established a new association: Holland Innovative Potato (HIP), with the goal to facilitate research which leads to higher quality, yield and efficiency in the cultivation, transport and processing of the potato. The partnership also aims to provide insight in the genetics related to stable economic yield and quality. The members of HIP are Avebe, Aviko, Farm Frites, McCain, Lamb Weston Meijer, PepsiCo, Bejo, HZPC, Meijer and Solynta and the two trade organizations NAO (trade) and VAVI (processors). HIP wants to strengthen the potato’s importance as a third food crop (after wheat and rice) in the world.  Continue reading

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Israeli scientists develop more nutritious, colorful potatoes

FeaturedImage_2017-08-24_Flickr_Purple_Potatoes_5087912635_3f0480714e_bAre you ready for violet-colored potatoes? How about orange tobacco? Researchers at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science have figured out how to produce betalain pigments in plants and flowers that don’t normally have them. If you’re thinking, “Who needs violet tomatoes?” you should know that red-violet and yellow betalain pigments contain healthful antioxidant properties. They’re also the basis for natural food dyes for products such as strawberry yogurt. Antioxidant activity is 60 percent higher in betalain-producing tomatoes than in average ones, said Prof. Asaph Aharoni of Weizmann’s Plant and Environmental Sciences Department, who teamed up with Dr. Guy Polturak for the pigment research. “Our findings may in the future be used to fortify a wide variety of crops with betalains in order to increase their nutritional value,” he said. More

Studies show increase of global market for processed potato products

Reports made by research companies show the increase of the global market for processed potato products. Although the increase is not high, it has been a steady one in the past three years. PotatoBusiness.com analyzed two reports regarding the potato chips market and frozen finger potato chips. The global potato chips market will grow at a CAGR of 4.58% during the period 2017-2021, according to the “Global Potato Chips Market 2017-2021” report recently launched by Research and Markets. The latest trend gaining momentum in the market is the innovative product offerings. Manufacturers of potato chips are tapping on the heavy demand for health foods by offering chips made from healthy ingredients. The demand for functional and non-GMO ingredients is high due to the rising cases of obesity, diabetes, gluten allergy, and other maladies. More

China: Potato research institute established in Xinjiang

Image result for potatoes chinaAccording to a news report published by XinhuaNet, a new potato research institute was recently established in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The institute, co-founded by research agencies and potato companies from China and Kazakhstan, aims to increase regional exchanges for the development of the potato industry in both countries. Members of the institute will develop high-quality potato varieties well suited for the environment and the market demands of consumers in Central Asia. They will also cooperate in cultivation technology and potato processing technologies. There is a rising demand for land resources to grow potatoes in China, according to Xinjiang’s regional academy of agricultural sciences. By 2020, more than 6.7 million hectares of potatoes are expected to be planted in China, of which 30 percent can potentially be processed, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. China is by far the world’s largest producer of potatoes, with a current planted area of around 5.6 million hectares. (Source: XinhuaNet)

Research: Whole food, purple potatoes may help prevent colon cancer

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Eating purple potatoes could reduce the risk of developing colon cancer, according to a new study. Pigs fed the vegetables found levels of a damaging protein that fuels tumours and other inflammatory bowel diseases were reduced by six times. Researchers say other colorful fruits and vegetables, such as broccoli and red grapes, could bring the same beneficial effects. The study in pigs by an international team of researchers found purple fleshed potatoes suppressed the spread of colon cancer stem cells – even as part of a high calorie diet. Both uncooked and baked potatoes had similar effects. According to Jairam K.P. Vanamala, associate professor of food sciences, Penn State, white potatoes may have helpful compounds, but the purple potatoes have much greater concentrations of these anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant compounds. More

Potatoes South Australia wins grant to develop vodka from waste potato peelings

In an effort to combat food waste, Potatoes South Australia has teamed up with the University of Adelaide and Adelaide Hills Distillery to make vodka from potato skins. Robbie Davis, chief executive officer of Potatoes SA, said at a national level, food loss in the agricultural industry — pre farm gate — was $3 billion annually. “But the horticulture component of that is $1.8 billion dollars annually, and potatoes are the biggest contributor,” she said. Potatoes South Australia received $30,000 for the project from the State Government. Ms Davis said although whole potatoes were already used to make vodka, they hoped to determine if a premium SA spirit could be made using only waste potato peel. “Having gone to lots of processing plants — what is happening to the skins? Why shouldn’t we try and use them for something?” she said. “The potential is just phenomenal. We want to do a comparison between different varieties of potatoes and their skins, and we will also do a comparison with whole potatoes.” More

Mexico: Zebra Chip-tolerant potatoes for the fresh market identified

Over the past few years, the potato production of US, Mexico, New Zealand and Central America has been under threat by Zebra Chip (ZC), a disease associated with the Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum bacteria, vectored by the potato psyllid (Bactericera cockerelli). The disease turns part of the amide in soluble sugars so, when potatoes are cooked, sugars caramelise and streaks appear. Of course ZC is currently monitored with pesticides, but sustainable defence requires the development of resistant and/or tolerant varieties. Entomologists from the University of California Riverside, together with researchers from INIFAP (Mexico), characterised four promising potato lines (246, 865, 510, NAU) exposed to Cls-positive adult psyllids and monitored the vector’s behaviour towards the plants and the effects of the bacteria on the tubers. The potato lines were compared to ZC-susceptible variety Atlantic. More

Research: Straw mulch increases potato yield and suppresses weeds in an organic production system

Related imageScientists at the Dept of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US grew late and early maturing potato cultivars under two organic management systems using straw mulch or mechanical cultivation for weed management. In a paper published in the journal Biological Agriculture and Horticulture, researchers Ruth K. Genger, Douglas I. Rouse, and Amy O. Charkowski say that it was found that application of straw mulch at emergence consistently increased total and marketable A-size yields for the late season cultivar Freedom Russet, and shifted the profile of marketable A-size tubers toward larger sizes. Increased yields were seen for the early season cultivar Dark Red Norland in some years, and may be related to amelioration of environmental stress by straw mulch. Mulch provided more effective control than mechanical cultivation for some broadleaf weeds. The researchers concluded straw mulching is a viable management option for organic potato production, with potential benefits for broadleaf weed management and tuber yield. More

Norway: NordGen potato collection accessions available for distribution

Rättviks röd (photo Simon Jeppson)

At present the NordGen potato collection consists of 72 varieties, breeding clones and landraces (local strains). For most of the accessions available for distribution, additional information can be found in the Nordic Potato Book (Potatisboken) produced by NordGen. Material from the NordGen in vitro potato collection are distributed on request all year round, depending of supply. The in vitro material is primarily for breeding, research and demonstration purposes. The available accessions can be found in the in vitro potato list. Multiplication of the material is often necessary before your request can be distributed, so please be aware that it might not be sent until some months after the request. Mini tubers are produced yearly from a subset of the collection and can be ordered by interested researchers, open-air museums, local history societies from February 1. Please contact Ulrika Carlson-Nilsson. You will then get information about availability and delivery time. (Source and further details: NordGen)

Canadian students try to give lowly potato peel a future in furniture

Mount Allison research studentsA company started by six Mount Allison students in the province of New Brunswick in Canada, sees a place for potato peels in furniture, flooring and ceiling tiles. Enviroot’s goal is to reduce waste by using food remains, especially potato peelings, to make a safe material for use in the home. The company received a national business prize of $20,000 from Enactus Canada, a student-led entrepreneurial organization, and the McCain Social Enterprise Project Partnership to get the project going this summer. “We use the potato peels that we get from McCain Foods here in New  Brunswick in our particle board as a kind of filler,” said Justin Trueman, Enviroot CEO and fourth-year biology student. The potato peels are plasticized by melting them a little bit, and a bond between the potato peels’ particles is created. “When we found out there was a partnership available through Enactus Canada and McCain Foods, we started thinking about how we can make something viable out of something McCain has to offer,” Trueman said. More

Cornell Nematode Quarantine Laboratory gets $400,000 from USDA

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer greets people at the NematodeGolden and pale cyst nematodes threaten New York’s $65 million potato industry. To help protect the vegetable, as well as soybeans and other crops that could be harmed by invasive nematode species, the USDA is committing $400,000 in federal funding to the Nematode Quarantine Laboratory at Cornell University. The USDA has made a verbal commitment to provide the funding for a new growth chamber, which includes plans for new equipment and blueprints at the new facility. In October 2016, the facility received $1.2 million for upgrades from the state. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer sent a letter to USDA Administrator Chavonda Jacobs-Young in June requesting new funding. The discovery of nematodes led to countries, including Mexico, Canada, Japan and South Korea, installing bans on the import of potatoes from Idaho. Cornell University scientists conduct research to prevent a similar epidemic from happening in New York and elsewhere. More

US: National Potato Council awards Academic Scholarship for Potato Research

National Potato Council awards scholarship to Adrienne Gorny for nematode researchThe National Potato Council (NPC) last week announced that Adrienne Gorny, a fourth-year doctoral student in Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology at Cornell University, is the recipient of the 2017-2018 NPC Academic Scholarship. The $10,000 award is provided annually to a graduate student with a strong interest in research that can directly benefit the potato industry. Gorny’s work focuses on the quantitative epidemiology of Northern root-knot and lesion nematodes in potatoes. Her research is squarely focused on helping the potato industry make informed decisions about nematode control measures. Gorny wants to quantify yield loss due to nematodes by measuring pre-plant density of the nematode population. “What’s really cool is that I’m measuring the DNA of nematodes in the soil, extracting DNA from soil and measuring bar code regions. It is faster than the traditional method and potentially more accurate” she explained. More

Texas potato researcher plans to pack more value into the crop

Texas potato growers may be few in number, but their spuds hit a market window that brings a premium each year at harvest. Now, a new potato scientist for Texas A&M AgriLife Research plans to pack even more value into the commodity through traditional and molecular breeding. Upon arriving in Texas last January, Dr. Isabel Vales was quick to put down roots both in her greenhouses near the Texas A&M University campus in College Station and hundreds of miles away where potatoes are grown in the northwestern part of the state. Vales said she is nearing a point of developing a plan to help take Texas potato farmers to the next level of production and market efficiency. Vales said consumers also will play a role in her plans, because of their desire for traits such as healthy components and a trendy preference for smaller potatoes.  Continue reading

Canada: Potato research lab shares milestones at open house

Benoit BizimungoBenoit Bizimungu spends about 12 years working on a single type of potato, trying to develop a more resilient crop that requires less fertilizer or chemicals. The research scientist had a chance to share his work with the public Saturday when his workplace, the Fredericton Research and Development Centre, opened its laboratory doors to the public. More than 300 people stopped by the open house to get a peek into the federal facility, which primarily focuses on researching potatoes. Each year, he begins his research in the field with 100,000 potato varieties. He said the volume of work he and his colleagues do surprised some and others were shocked to learn it can take 12 years to create a new potato. “I tell them you have to be patient to truly develop some improved product,” he said. More

Applied Research: Ground-penetrating radar could help producers dig potatoes early

Dr. Dirk Hays, plant geneticist, is using ground-penetrating radar to test for early maturing potato varieties. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter)

Ground-penetrating radar might help the potato industry save water, according to Dr. Dirk Hays, Texas A&M AgriLife Research plant geneticist in the soil and crop sciences department at College Station. Hays’ latest project utilizes ground-penetrating radar to select early maturing potato cultivars, which can help producers make harvest decisions and increase water-use efficiency. His project is in coordination with AgriLife Research and the department of horticultural sciences potato breeding program conducted by breeders Dr. Creighton Miller and Dr. Isabel Vales, both at College Station. “We know radar will work on potatoes,” Hays said. “Radar works on detecting objects that are denser than the soil environment they are in. Potatoes are very moist versus the sandy soils they are grown in, so it’s relatively easy to image the potatoes with the ground-penetrating radar.”  Continue reading