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)

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UK: First SDHI fungicide to control Rhizoctonia said to offer 20% more yield

In-furrow applicationThe first in-furrow SDHI fungicide for potatoes offers farmers another option for controlling Black scurf, caused by the fungus Rhizoctonia solani, a disease that can slash marketable yields by 30%. (SDHI stands for Succinate DeHydrogenase Inhibitors in the UK). Although growers can successfully control the disease with azoxystrobin, it can prove harsh on plants leading to delayed emergence. However, from next season growers will have an alternative that is less harsh, said Basf campaign manager Matthew Goodson at the recent British Potato event in Harrogate. Based on the SDHI active fluxapyroxad, the new potato product Allstar outperformed the in-furrow strobilurin in independent German trials. “Allstar yielded 20% more potatoes than azoxystrobin [treated crops] across all six varieties tested.” More

Data leads to smarter center pivot irrigation

Information is one of the most powerful tools growers have in their arsenal – and the methods we use to gather it are always advancing. These days, growers can gather data about soil moisture, aerial imagery, weather conditions, yield mapping and more. They can enter their data into a program or hub to analyze it, and then use that information to decide how and where to plant, what to plant, the best time to fertilize, and of course, the best way to irrigate. Ashley Anderson, Valley Irrigation Product Manager, says irrigation data is easy to gather with today’s technology. “Both AgSense® and BaseStation3™ gather near real-time data from the field,” she says. “Center pivot irrigation growers use this data to determine when to irrigate and the proper amount to apply, using water and power more economically.” According to Anderson, a challenge that growers face is how to use the data they collect. More

US: Retail potato sales inch up for third straight month

In September, the total potato category was up 0.08 percent by weight when compared to the same time frame last year according to numbers from Potatoes USA. The total potato category was carried by deli (+2.4 percent), frozen (+1.3 percent) and fresh (+0.6 percent) with dehydrated and refrigerated declining, -0.03 percent and -1 percent respectively. Potatoes USA Chief Marketing Officer John Toaspern said the industry is “on a roll” when asked about the recent release of data. In the fresh potato category, the volume was carried by yellow (+8.4 percent), fingerling (+6.6 percent) and russets (+1.7 percent). Additionally, within package sizes, larger than 10 pound bags grew by double digits at +10.9 percent and 1-to-4 pound bags grew 7.9 percent. A full report is available for the total potato category and for the fresh potato category. (Source: Spudman)

British Potato 2017: Latest technical updates from potato event

The latest potato agronomic developments were showcased and industry concerns aired at BP2017, held in Harrogate, North Yorks. More data is needed to assess and respond to the threat posed by the Dark Green 37 blight strain, which has shown resistance to fluazinam. David Nelson, field director, Branston said more understanding of the Dark Green 37 strain was needed. “It is the biggest challenge in blight control since metalaxyl resistance in the 1980s. We don’t understand it really and need to collect information in the next 12 months. We need a lot more blight scouts. Loss of glyphosate could limit land availability for growing potatoes, warned Paul Colman, technical director, Greenvale AP. “It is a critical herbicide for controlling volunteer potatoes. Landowners renting out land may make the decision they don’t want potatoes in the rotation anymore.” BASF has launched an SDHI fungicide, Allstar (fluxapyroxad) for control of rhizoctonia in potatoes. Continue reading

Study shows advantages of locating next North American potato fry plant in Idaho

Any processor planning to build a new frozen fry plant would be wise to locate it in Idaho, according to a recently completed economics study funded by the Idaho Potato Commission. Joe Guenthner, an emeritus University of Idaho economics professor, and Amanda Jaeger, a consultant, compared costs of building and operating a fry plant in eight different locations in the US and Canada, as well as transportation costs from those locations to major fry markets. The list included Idaho, Washington, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Maine in the US, and Alberta, Manitoba and New Brunswick in Canada. One processor, McCain Foods, is already undertaking an Idaho expansion, investing $200 million to boost production at its Burley plant. Guenthner believes the industry is poised for further growth. “I understand most or all processing plants in North America are running at full capacity, and growth in demand is coming from overseas,” Guenthner said. “The industry is growing, and there will be expansion somewhere.” Capital Press report

EU potato production trends

According to Eurostat estimates, the EU-28 potato production in 2016 stood at 56.9 million tonnes, up 5.6% compared to the previous year. In the EU-5 (Germany, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom) the total potato production decreased by 0.5% compared to the previous year. High prices in the 2016/17 season have motivated growers in most Western European countries to expand their potato acreage, which in the EU-5 amounted to about 579 thousand hectares in 2017; an increase of 4.6% compared to the previous year. The acreage also grew in the Scandinavian countries. In 2017, the total potato production in the EU-28 has grown from 56.9 to 62.0 million tonnes, up by 9%, largely due to an increase in Poland’s potato production (by about 1 million tonnes). In the EU-5, the potato production amounted to 37.2 million tonnes and was 10.5% higher than in the previous year. Yields in Belgium and France increased by 15-16%, and in Germany and the Netherlands by 2-3%. More

British processed potato exports rising; fresh potato sales continue long-term downward trend

Great Britain processed potato exports are up by 24%, while imports are also up by 5%, according to AHDB GB Potatoes Market Intelligence 2017–2018 report. Net import of fresh potatoes reached 54,000t, up by 22%, while seed exports have increased 3% and exports are down by 60%. “Although this comes as no surprise, due to the poor yields achieved on the continent in the previous year, seed was in very high demand and was reported to be fetching upwards of EUR/1,000/t for certain varieties,” according to the report. This was driven by a 62% reduction in seed from the Netherlands. According to the report, fresh potato sales have continued their long-term downward trend over the past five years, with volume sales declining by 4% and value sales declining by 19% in the period. On the other hand, AHDB conducts a consumer tracker survey to monitor attitudes toward potatoes, finding that 76% of consumers eat potatoes on a weekly basis and when asked, 71% of people surveyed said they considered potatoes to be healthy. More

Netherlands: Agrico claims “double the yield with resistant organic potato varieties”

“Within three years, we want to fill at least half of our planted area with resistant potatoes,” says Peter Dijk on behalf of Agrico. The potato breeding company from Emmeloord, the Netherlands, currently grows organic consumption potatoes on a total of 500 hectares. “Potato varieties resistant to the potato disease Phytophthora are growing on an ever-increasing surface.” Regarding yields, Agrico is very satisfied about these varieties: “If the fungus shows up early in the season, it doesn’t make much difference if there’s a resistant or non-resistant variety on the field. If the fungus shows up late in the season, the resistant variety scores very high so far. With resistant varieties, we even realise a double yield sometimes. …We have to realise a more acceptable price level for resistant organic potatoes. A higher yield is necessary for that. We have the resistant varieties, but now growers have to start profiting from them.” More

Greenvale invests in new organic varieties

Greenvale invests in new organic varietiesGreenvale is investing heavily in new organic potato varieties as it looks to address a shortage in reliable, high-yielding organic potatoes. The producer and breeder, which claims to be the UK’s largest supplier of fresh organic potatoes, wants to support retailers as they try to grow this area of the market. It is looking to develop more hardy varieties than the Dutch and German potatoes currently on offer, which, according to technical and seed director Paul Coleman, “don’t produce a very big plant”. “Organics only account for about three to four per cent of potato sales at the moment,” he said. “It’s not a very big market and effectively it’s almost a service to the retailers to support all the other things we do. The supermarkets want an organic offering so you’ve got to be able to provide that. You’re not going to get rich on organics – in fact, you’re probably going to lose money – but it’s part of the overall range and you don’t make money across the whole piece.” More

US: Potandon launches CarbSmart yellow potatoes

Image result for carbsmart potato potandonIdaho-based Potandon Produce introduced its low-carbohydrate CarbSmart potato at Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit show in October, said Ralph Schwartz, vice president of sales.The new item is part of Potandon’s promotional focus on potatoes as healthy items, Schwartz said. It’s the first of many that will come out that have additional health benefits,” he said of CarbSmart. The product has 55% fewer carbohydrates than rice or pasta, Schwartz said. When you look at this potato, it has 7 grams less carbs per serving than a regular yellow potato. We’ve been testing it for years. It’s exciting.” More

New report: Global Potato Chips Market 2017-2021

Image result for potato chipsAccording to the authors of Global Potato Chips Market 2017-2021 report, consumers across the globe tend to purchase potato chips more than any other snacks, as they are ready-to-eat and filling. And increasing snacking by consumers has also helped the market growth over the years. Hence, the potato chip category is more relevant than ever in terms of snacks. The analysts forecast the global potato chips market to grow at a CAGR of 4.58% during the period 2017-2021. The report covers the present scenario and the growth prospects of the global potato chips market for 2017-2021. The report was prepared based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. It covers the market landscape and its growth prospects over the coming years. The report also includes a discussion of the key vendors operating in this market. More

How Frito-Lay is making its products healthier

Indian Tikka Masala, Yorkshire Pudding and Salmon Teriyaki Lay's potato chips“Somebody was telling me the other day that we have over 3,000 flavors in what we call our flavor bank,” said Christine J. Cioffe, Ph.D., senior vice-president, Sustainability and Global Snacks R.&D. at PepsiCo, Inc., parent company of Frito-Lay. “I think it speaks to the power of a company that operates across 200-plus countries.” Flavor, Dr. Cioffe said, is a “stronghold” for Frito-Lay. “It’s definitely a capability that R.&D. has built and strengthened over the last decade or so,” she added. “Flavor is going to continue to be an opportunity.” Meanwhile, the product development team at PepsiCo is focused on making its snacks healthier. The company has committed to limiting sodium and saturated fat while adding whole grains, vegetables and protein, said Elizabeth Roark, registered dietitian and principal scientist, PepsiCo Nutrition Services. In its Performance with Purpose 2025 Agenda PepsiCo outlined its nutrition goals. More

Idaho spud harvest meeting brings mixed message

Potato harvestIt was a mixed message of good news and caution that Frank Muir delivered Tuesday to Idaho’s potato growers at the Idaho Potato Commission’s inaugural The Big Idaho Potato Harvest Meeting 2017. At the top of the list of major news for Idaho’s potato industry is the recent launch by Lamb Weston of frozen retail products called Grown in Idaho. “I’ve been working with the processors for many years trying to get one of the major processors to do just this,” Muir said. There was good news on the fresh potato market sector as well. Muir said that consumers will pay a premium for Idaho potatoes, but they expect a quality potato when they pay a premium price. He said that Idaho is having quality issues and the commission is hearing from consumers and retailers about it. More

Ireland: Is the wild potato the key to less fungicide use on spuds?

potatoScience week in Teagasc Oakpark has opened up students minds to the humble spud and the wild potato continued to come up in conversation. Why? The answer is simply potato blight, as the wild potatoes found in South America are resistant to blight. Some of these potatoes might not be as tasty or suitable for the supermarket, but they have one very important quality – they aren’t susceptible to blight. Oakpark is the home of potato breeding in Ireland and while it has successfully bred many different breeds, potato blight remains the big threat to the industry. Denis Griffin, a Teagasc research officer with Teagasc , stated: “One of the big pressure points for potatoes is still late blight. We have to spray the susceptible varieties 12-15 times. …One of our major goals over the next few years is to try and introduce resistant genes from wild species for late blight and reduce the amount of pesticides we have to use.” More