April 15th, 2015

IDAHO GROWERS INK DEAL WITH PROCESSORS

Idaho potato growers have struck a deal with processors accepting a slight decrease in payment but requiring processors to contract for at least 90 per cent of 2014 acreages with individual farms.

Dan Hargraves, executive director of Southern Idaho Potato Cooperative (SIPCO), says Lamb Weston growers have agreed to a one per cent reduction in contract prices, while McCain and Simplot growers will take a 1.5 percent decrease to "make up an inequity from the prior crop year."

Hargraves says SIPCO sought the acreage guarantee based on slower exports of frozen potato products during the West Coast port labour slowdown. "There were some reductions by all of the big three in Idaho — Lamb Weston, McCain and J.R. Simplot," he says, adding that many non-members took larger acreage cuts.

Growers approved the contract in mid-March, and processors are now taking it to fields for signing.

With the latest contract, Hargraves notes that prices are down four per cent over two years, or about US$120 per acre. Prices vary by region and variety, but Hargraves says Russet Burbanks will still fetch more than US$7 per hundredweight.

The contract also included new language pertaining to genetically modified organisms, mandating that seed and commercial growers dedicate separate equipment, farm land and storage to GMO potatoes, and that they avoid planting conventional potatoes in a field for at least eight years after raising GMOs.

Potato Growers of Washington reached an agreement with processors in November. Executive Director Dale Lathim says his growers accepted the price protection language, described as a "favoured nations clause," and were allowed to roll over last year's contract rates. If other growing areas agree to lower contracts, Washington's maximum reduction is capped at two per cent.

Lathim says Washington growers were also guaranteed 100 per cent of their 2014 acreages. "It's not something we have to look at often, but this was definitely a year we were concerned about that," he says.

University of Idaho Extension economist Paul Patterson estimated input costs were down by at least 1.5 percent last year, and he noted processors are under pressure to keep costs down from customers such as Walmart and McDonald's, which have recently raised employee wages.

Hargraves believes input costs for growers were actually up slightly last season, as growers were forced to add an unexpected late-season treatment for late blight. For more information, visit Capital Press.

IRISH GROWERS URGED TO CUT BACK ACREAGE

Potato growers should reduce their potato planting areas to some degree in 2015, given the poor prices that have been available over the past two seasons, according to Teagasc, Ireland's agriculture and food development authority.

"Last year saw an oversupply of potatoes coming onto the market right across Europe, with prices falling accordingly," says Teagasc spokesperson Denis Griffin.

"We continue to see a decline in potato consumption here in Ireland, so growers should err on the side of caution as they prepare for this year's planting season. The reality is that potatoes remain a very expensive crop to grow."

Griffin also maintains Irish potato growers should start to look seriously at how they can diversify their businesses. "There is a growing demand for salad potatoes and, in this regard, Teagasc has just brought to market a new variety, called Imagine, which shows promise for the future. There is also significant potential to increase our seed potato acreage," he says.

"There is also significant scope for Irish growers to produce potatoes for the chipping market. Almost all this requirement is met by imports from Europe at the present time. Price will, obviously, determine the viability of this option. There is also a requirement to establish a chip processing factory in this country.

"The fundamental bottom line is that growing potatoes as a commodity crop is no longer a feasible business option in this country. Growers must develop a value added mentality," Griffin says. To learn more, visit AgriLand.

NEW VARIETIES TO IMPROVE PACIFIC ISLANDS FOOD SECURITY

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Almost 70 new varieties of potato and sweet potato will soon be available to Pacific Island countries and territories, to improve food security across the region.

The Fiji-based Secretariat of the Pacific Community's (SPC's) Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePACT) has received 42 new potato varieties as tissue cultures that are sub-tropical, heat-tolerant and resistant to some potato viruses.

Potato is becoming one of the most consumed crops in the Pacific Islands region, with some countries and territories beginning to grow potatoes, while Fiji imports many potatoes every year.

The new potato varieties originate from Peru, while the sweet potato tissue cultures are also mainly from Peru but also from Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador. Accessing new, adaptable and resilient hybrids will assist countries and territories with import substitution to improve food security.

"The centre also received tissue cultures of 27 advanced hybrid sweet potato varieties, all of which have orange and purple flesh that is high in nutrients to help improve diets in Pacific communities," said Valerie Tuia, SPC genetic resources co-ordinator.

"The fast-growing and early-maturing sweet potato varieties are an ideal crop in disaster rehabilitation efforts and food security programs, although we're currently preparing other varieties for anticipated distribution in the coming weeks to areas impacted by Cyclone Pam."

In Cook Islands, Niue and Samoa these orange and purple varieties are very popular for the tourist market and they will support smallholder farmers supplying this market.

A growing demand by Pacific countries and territories for disease-resistant and nutrient-rich crop diversity, that is suitable for a tropical climate, prompted CePACT to continue sourcing new, improved varieties from its partners in the Consultative Group of International Agriculture Research (CGIAR). The new crops were acquired from the Peru-based International Potato Center, one of CePACT's partner institutes in the CGIAR group.

The materials are part of the global gene pool of the multilateral system of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, in collaboration with the Global Crop Diversity Trust. For more information, visit SPC.

PROMOTING SUSTAINABLE POTATO CULTIVATION IN EUROPE

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Working together for sustainable potato cultivation: Simon Jensma, Technical Advisor at Bayer CropScience, provides tailored advice to a Dutch potato grower. Photo: Bayer CropScience AG.

Bayer CropScience and Farm Frites recently started a Food Chain Partnership initiative designed to implement sustainable agricultural practices in potato cultivation in the Netherlands and Belgium.

The goal of the partnership is to support a bottom-up approach with potato farmers addressing value-adding sustainable potato-growing practices at individual farm levels. This is intended to minimize the environmental impacts of agricultural production in order to keep potato farming attractive in the long term.

"Potato is a valuable crop for farmers in Western Europe and a key raw material for the potato processing industry, for example for flakes, mash and french fries," says Leon Boer, director of potato procurement of Farm Frites. "Therefore, the implementation of sustainable practices is a must for local farmers. With this collaboration we want to enable our contract growers to consistently meet our high-quality standards and stay competitive."

Within this initiative, Bayer CropScience will share its expertise in potato agronomy and sustainability measures. "Bayer CropScience's contribution to sustainable agriculture is at the core of our business supporting our customers with innovative solutions, proactive stewardship and partnerships," explains Silke Friebe, head of food chain management at Bayer CropScience.

"Our core competencies lie in developing and supplying integrated crop solutions that are locally adapted and tailored to the individual needs of our customers. The common goal is to help drive a sustainable productivity increase and to improve crop quality."

In a first step, a set of measures to improve sustainability in potato cultivation and the associated in-field activities have been jointly compiled and shared. This toolbox of available measures covers a broad range of topics: biodiversity, erosion, soil fertilization, stewardship, energy, product quality, pest and disease monitoring as well as advice on the efficient and safe use of crop protection products.

Five pilot farms, three in Belgium and two in the Netherlands, which supply their harvests to Farm Frites have been selected for the coming potato season. To encourage interaction and provide a platform for sharing experiences and knowledge among farmers Bayer and Farm Frites will organize a Tour de Farm, a set of open field days at the pilot farms, at the end of May. To learn more, visit Bayer CropScience.

EFFECTIVENESS OF FAST FOOD IN WORKOUT RECOVERY

University of Montana researchers say they have good news for endurance athletes hankering for a burger and fries after an intense workout: It's okay to dig in, as long as it's in moderation.

A new study, recently published by the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, found there was no significant difference in glycogen recovery when cyclists ate fast food after a workout versus when they ingested traditional sports supplements such as Gatorade, PowerBar and Clif products.

Brent Ruby, director of UM's Montana Center for Work Physiology and Exercise Metabolism, graduate student Michael Cramer, and a team of researchers in UM's Department of Health and Human Performance detailed these findings in a paper titled "Post-exercise Glycogen Recovery and Exercise Performance is Not Significantly Different Between Fast Food and Sport Supplements."

In the study, 11 male cyclists completed two experimental trials in randomized order. Each trial included a 90-minute glycogen-depletion ride followed by a four-hour recovery period. Immediately following each ride and again two hours later, researchers provided participants with either sports supplements or fast food, such as hamburgers, french fries and hash browns. Following a four-hour recovery period, participants completed a 12.4-mile (20-kilometer) time trial.

The UM researchers analyzed muscle biopsies and blood samples taken in between the two rides and found no differences in blood glucose and insulin responses. Rates of glycogen recovery from the feedings also were not different between the diets. Most importantly, there were no differences in time-trial performance between the two diets.

"Our results show that eating fast food — in the right amounts — can provide the same potential for muscle glycogen as sports nutrition products that usually cost more," Ruby says. "We had participants eating small servings of the fast-food products, not giant orders of burgers and fries. Moderation is the key to the results we got." For more information, visit the University of Montana.


April 2nd, 2015

4R Nutrient Stewardship In P.E.I.

Clyde Graham, acting president, Canadian Fertilizer Institute; Steve Watts, agronomist with Genesis Crop Systems inc.; and potato grower Jared Wright.

Among those at the 4R Nutrient Stewardship news conference in Charlottetown, P.E.I. on April 1: (left to right): Clyde Graham, acting president, Canadian Fertilizer Institute; Steve Watts, agronomist with Genesis Crop Systems inc.; and potato grower Jared Wright. Photo: Elizabeth Smith, CFI.

The results of 4R Nutrient Stewardship Demonstration Farm Trials in Prince Edward Island are proving that producers, consumers and the environment benefit when farmers adopt practices that ensure nutrients stay where they are placed.

In 2014, the second year of the field trials, 4R advocate and agronomist Steve Watts of Genesis Crop Systems Inc., expanded the demonstration plots from five to 13 farms while generating significant interest from agriculture, environment and community stakeholders.

A meeting was held in Charlottetown, P.E.I. on April 1, enabling members of the media along with farmers and other ag stakeholders to see for themselves what the 4R initiative is achieving. Detailed information about the program was provided along with a report on the 2014 farm trials summarizing results that supported the adoption of 4R Nutrient Stewardship principles. The findings included:

• 4R Nutrient Stewardship practices trended towards equal or better performance than conventional crop fertility practices

• 4R Nutrient Stewardship management indicated lower soil nitrate levels at eight of the 10 locations, representing reduced potential for nitrate movement to the environment

"Introducing subtle changes to the way a crop is fertilized can produce crops with at least as much economic value as the current level of management while lessening the potential environmental impact," said Watts at the event. For more information, visit the Canadian Fertilizer Institute.

Innate Receives FDA Safety Clearance

The J. R. Simplot Company has completed the food and feed safety consultation with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its first generation of Innate potato varieties. The FDA concluded that the Innate potato is as safe and nutritious as conventional potatoes.

Simplot is working with growers and retailers to bring to the U.S. market several popular potato varieties with improved traits that benefit consumers, food producers, and growers. According to the company, Innate potatoes have fewer black spots from bruising, stay whiter longer when cut or peeled, and have lower levels of naturally-occurring asparagine, resulting in less acrylamide when cooked at high temperatures. Simplot says Innate potatoes are also less prone to pressure bruising during storage, resulting in less potato waste and potentially millions of dollars in savings to growers every year.

The FDA statement comes after the recent U. S. Department of Agriculture deregulation of Innate potatoes. The FDA’s safety consultation on Innate potatoes was voluntarily requested by Simplot as a further evaluation of the Innate technology which has been in development for more than a decade. These federal clearances involved years of technical review and a thorough public comment period that drew the support of 14 leading potato research universities in the U.S. and Europe.

"The Innate potato is the most promising advancement in the potato industry I’ve seen in my 30 years studying agriculture," says David Douches, a Michigan State University research scientist who has implemented field trials of Innate. "This potato delivers significant health and sustainability benefits, all by using the potato’s own DNA. Such advancements haven’t been possible using traditional breeding."

Simplot used the techniques of modern biotechnology to accelerate the traditional breeding process and introduce new traits by triggering the potato’s own RNA interference (RNAi) pathway. RNAi is a natural cellular process commonly used by plants and animals to modulate expression of certain genes, and has been used effectively in multiple commercial crops sold over the last decade. "Unlike traditional methods of breeding which introduce random mutations associated with dozens of genes, the method used to develop Innate potatoes is precise," says Douches.

Three Innate varieties are expected to be available in limited quantities beginning in 2015 in the fresh and fresh-cut markets. A second generation of Innate potatoes, currently under review by the USDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will offer two additional improvements to the potato, including increased resistance to late blight disease and better storability.

"The potato is an important and nutritious food staple, but susceptible to damage when grown and stored," says Haven Baker, vice president and general manager of Simplot Plant Sciences. "Innate has the potential to reduce post-harvest food waste and help meet the demand for better, more sustainable crops in the years ahead." To learn more, visit J.R. Simplot Company.

New Defence Against Late Blight

Scientists from Wageningen University in the Netherlands and the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, England say they have identified a gene that enhances resistance against potato late blight from a South American wild relative of cultivated potatoes.

Vivianne Vleeshouwers, breeding research expert at Wageningen University, is one of the leading scientists in the team responsible for this breakthrough. "We identified a gene responsible for a totally new line of defence in wild relatives of potato. We hope that this will help us to tackle late blight," says Vleeshouwers.

Phytophthora infestans, the cause of late blight disease, is infamous for triggering the 1840’s Irish famine. This widespread pathogen is still a major threat to crops worldwide.

The international team of scientists searched the germplasm of wild members of the Solanum family (which includes potato), looking for genes that responded to elicitins, a conserved protein in the P. infestans pathogen that serves an important biological function.

"These proteins hardly change in time and during species diversification because their role is crucial and their composition has been optimized during earlier evolution," says Vleeshouwers. "Resistance enhanced by action against this type of pathogen proteins would make it less likely that the pathogen will evolve to overcome the resistance."

After a 10-year search, the scientists found one such gene: ELR, an elicitin resistance gene that encodes a receptor-like protein in Solanum microdontum. Plants contain many of these cell surface receptors that constitute the first line of immune defence, like an array of radar antennas, each one tuned to a different but conserved feature of the invading pathogens.

The simultaneous presence of ELR and elicitin triggers cell death at the site of infection, a powerful plant defence mechanism that restricts the progress of the pathogen. According to the researchers, transfer of the ELR gene into cultivated potato made it more resistant to several strains of blight, opening new strategies for breeding a broad and durable resistance in potato varieties, increasing food security and reducing the use of fungicides. For more information, visit Wageningen University.

New U.S. Product Prevents Sprouting In Storage

BioSafe Systems has introduced ARRET Sprout Treatment for the 2015 potato storage season, a solution approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for fresh pack line treatments as well as for fogging treatment applications.

According to BioSafe, ARRET is a new, innovative chemistry that utilizes a green and sustainable fatty acid formulation that burns down sprouts on contact. It’s described by the company as a highly cost-efficient and effective product that provides growers with "a new tool to enhance quality and storage life of potatoes, in turn increasing yield and bottom line."

A BioSafe press release states, "For in-storage potatoes, ARRET can be applied by any type of thermal fogger whenever potatoes are peeping, preventing any further sprouting. Its fatty acid chemistry is made up of completely food-safe ingredients and has no use restrictions. ARRET can also stop sprouts in their tracks on fresh-market potatoes. ARRET is easily dispersed in water and should be applied as a low-volume spray bar application when potatoes are being prepped for packaging." To learn more, visit BioSafe Systems.

Aussies Love Their Spuds

Potatoes continue to be seen as an important staple for Australians, according to the latest installment of a research initiative known as of the Potato Tracker project.

Survey results released in March indicate respondents consumed potatoes an average of 14 times per month. In addition, potatoes are also a consistent feature in the top five most purchased vegetables among those surveyed, and still regarded as good value for money.

"The report suggests that consumers purchase potatoes for a variety of reasons, including their ease of preparation, ability to be incorporated into a number of different meals and great taste," says Alexander Miller, a spokesman for AUSVEG, Australia’s leading horticultural body representing more than 2,000 potato growers.

"The latest research shows that Australians are drawn to the all-rounder vegetable that is quick and easy to prepare and is good for the whole family. The potato’s versatility is also a draw card, with its ability to complement a variety of meals a trigger for purchase," says Miller.

"Aussie consumers are also still showing signs that they are happy with the high-quality Australian potatoes available to them for purchase, which is wonderful news for the industry," he adds. "Potatoes are a great tasting addition to any meal. The fact that there are such a large number of triggers to purchase for potatoes is an encouraging sign for growers."

The report also showed that consumers enjoy pairing their potatoes with cauliflower, pumpkin, carrots, broccoli and green peas.

The Potato Tracker project is an industry-funded, consumer research initiative that’s designed to enable Australian potato growers to better orient their growing operations in terms of what consumers want and to maximize market opportunities. A wave of research is conducted each month, with consumers from around Australia surveyed on their potato purchasing habits. Each wave of research is distributed to the industry by AUSVEG. For more information, visit AUSVEG.


March 18th, 2015

Harper Government Invests In Potato R&D

A research program aimed at giving potato farmers a technological edge in predicting and preventing yield losses in their fields and in storage has been given a financial shot in the arm by the Harper government.

The government announced March 17 it was investing $1.83 million in the Canadian-led initiative. The collaborative research effort with several industry partners will be led by scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Potato Research Centre in Fredericton, N.B. Researchers from Canada, France and New Zealand will use new discoveries about potato DNA, microbial life in the soil and insect behavior to find better ways to measure the health and quality of potato plants and tubers.

"The Canadian potato industry is a major economic driver in this country with annual farm and processing sales of more than $2 billion. This international collaboration brings together the research and technical resources of three countries to put the best possible science in the hands of our potato growers to create economic and environmental benefits," said Parliamentary Secretary Gerald Keddy, who made the announcement along with MP Mike Allen.

This investment under Growing Forward 2 has also helped leverage $821,800 in industry contributions. Project partners include BioNB, Comité Nord Plants des Pommes de Terre, Quebec-based potato operations Ferme Daniel Bolduc Inc. and Maxi-Sol Inc., Plant and Food Research New Zealand, Potatoes New Brunswick and France-based company CCL.

"We are pleased to be participating in this project since collaboration and knowledge sharing are keys to success and to major discoveries, both in fundamental research and in field applications for producers and food processors," said Virginie Gobert-Deveaux, R& D director at Comité Nord Plants de Pommes de Terre.

"This is a great example of bio-technology being used to develop innovative strategies to meet challenges in one of our traditional sectors. We look forward to working with our partners and commercializing the resulting technologies that will lead to increased yields and overall profits for farmers and a stronger and more sustainable potato industry," said Meaghan Seagrave, executive director at BioN.B

Research areas including the use of a new generation of powerful computer-based gene sequencers to identify genes in potato DNA that indicates when the plant experiences stress, with the goal of using these genes as markers for diagnostic tools on the farm. DNA sequencing will also be used to identify the billions of species of microbial life in the soil and to study their impact on potato common scab. For more information visit the Government of Canada website.

Canadian Potato Museum Wins Tourism Award

The Canadian Potato Museum in O'Leary, P.E.I. has been chosen winner of the 2015 Premier's Award for Tourism, handed out annually by the Prince Edward Island government. The prize was presented at the Tourism Industry Association of Prince Edward Island awards gala held March 4 in Charlottetown, P.E.I.

"In 2014 the Canadian Potato Museum in O’Leary had the best season in its history with over 10,000 visits to the facility," said P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan. "The board and staff have done a tremendous job attracting visitors by making sound investments to improve the facility and by developing fun and interesting programming. It is an excellent example of what can be accomplished with a strong product, wise investments, and a staff and board dedicated to creating a memorable experience for visitors. They are truly deserving of this honour."

The museum was founded in 1993 by a community-based board of directors. It was added to the site of O’Leary Community Museum that had been in place since 1967. Since that time the museum has grown, re-branded and expanded programming to better help Islanders and visitors alike learn about potatoes, how they’re grown, how they’re harvested, how they’re used, and about the people and communities at the centre of the potato industry in Canada. Aside from the many exhibits, the museum houses a gift shop and a restaurant that specializes in potato dishes.

"As MLA for the area, I’ve had a birds-eye view of the museum’s development over the last 20 years and it’s come a long way since its humble beginnings," said P.E.I. Minister of Tourism and Culture Robert Henderson. "Now, The Canadian Potato Museum is simply one of the best tourism attractions in West Prince. Other businesses in the area benefit from the additional traffic the museum creates. And, most importantly, it tells the story of the humble potato, the single most important commodity produced on the Island." To learn more visit the P.E.I. Government website.

Prison Terms For Insurance Fraud

Two North Dakota brothers were sentenced March 9 to prison time and ordered to pay back $932,000 for intentionally destroying potatoes to collect federal farm insurance payments. In separate hearings, U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson sentenced Aaron Johnson to four years in prison and Derek Johnson to 18 months in prison. A jury had earlier convicted the pair of conspiring to receive illegal payments and giving false statements.

Prosecutors accused the brothers, who farmed potatoes near Northwood, N.D., of intentionally poisoning their potato seed during planting, as well as adding spoiled and frozen potatoes to their stored crop and using portable heaters to make the potatoes deteriorate faster. The defendants found that the best way to wreck the crop was using Rid-X, a chemical that's designed to dissolve solid materials in septic systems, prosecutors said.

Erickson said the brothers needed to serve prison time to reflect the seriousness of the crime and deter others from similar conduct. "This was a crime of dishonesty," Erickson said during Aaron Johnson's sentencing, which was held first. "It defrauded the taxpayers of the United States." For more information visit Associated Press.

International Potato Center Founder Passes Away

Richard L. Sawyer, the founder of the International Potato Center (CIP) and its first director-general, passed away on March 9 in Raleigh, North Carolina. "Dr. Sawyer’s legacy is enormous. His project to begin a potato research for development institute in the potato’s center of diversity was visionary and this work has led to improved nutrition, health, and livelihood for millions of rural poor in Latin America, Africa, and Asia," said Barbara Wells, CIP director-general.

Sawyer retired in 1991 from CIP, which was created in 1971 and opened its doors in Lima, Peru in 1972. Sawyer’s vision and strong leadership were instrumental in the design of CIP’s research program and the opening of regional offices throughout the world. He also strongly supported the conservation of genetic diversity for crop improvement and the creation of a comprehensive genebank with collections of potatoes, sweet potatoes, and Andean roots and tubers.

His former colleagues remember him as a compassionate individual who was very supportive of CIP staff and their families. "He always encouraged them to maintain a healthy balance between work and home," said Mike Jackson, former CIP scientific leader for Central America. Andre Devaux, CIP regional director of Latin America, remembers Sawyer as a "visionary and charismatic leader who supported risk-taking and innovation in science." For more information visit the International Potato Center.


March 5th, 2015

Agri-Mek SC Offers Improved Insect/Mite Control

Syngenta Canada Inc. is offering Agri-Mek SC, a new miticide-insecticide formulation for use on specialty and horticulture crops, including potatoes, onions, apples and grapes. Agri-Mek SC provides control of several species of economically significant mites and insects, as well as onion thrips

“Agri-Mek SC represents an improved standard for mite and insect control,” says Eric Phillips, product lead, fungicides and insecticides for Syngenta Canada. “Growers using the product can benefit from the concentrated formulation, which is effective at lower use rates and requires less product handling.”

Agri-Mek SC is a group 6 insecticide powered by the active ingredient abamectin. The translaminar activity of abamectin allows it to be absorbed rapidly, forming a reservoir of active ingredient within the leaf to provide residual control against mites and insects.

Agri-Mek SC is also tank-mix compatible with many other commonly used crop protection products. Agri-Mek SC may be applied by ground or air at the first signs of pest presence. For more information visit Syngenta Canada Inc.

Biotech Crops Show Continued Growth

In 2014, a record 181.5 million hectares of biotech crops were grown globally, an increase of more than six million hectares from 2013, according to a recent report by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA).

With the addition of Bangladesh, a total of 28 countries grew biotech crops during the year. The 20 developing and eight industrial countries where biotech crops are produced represent more than 60 per cent of the world’s population.

“The accumulated hectarage of biotech crops grown in 1996 to 2014 equals, roughly, 80 per cent more than the total land mass of China,” says Clive James, ISAAA founder and report author. “Global hectarage has increased more than 100-fold since the first plantings of biotech crops.”

Since 1996, more than 10 food and fibre biotech crops have been approved and commercialized around the world. These range from major commodities such as maize, soybean and cotton, to fruits and vegetables like papaya, eggplant and, most recently, potato. The traits of these crops address common issues affecting crop benefits to the consumer and production rates for farmers, including drought tolerance, insect and disease resistance, herbicide tolerance and increased nutrition and food quality. Biotech crops contribute to more sustainable crop production systems and provide resilient responses to the challenges of climate change.

According to the report, the United States continues to lead production at 73.1 million hectares in 2114. Up three million hectares ― a growth rate of four per cent ― from 2013, the United States recorded the highest year-over-year increase, surpassing Brazil, which has recorded the highest annual increase for the past five years. For more information visit the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications.

Researchers Develop New Method in Controlling CPB

Colorado potato beetle (CPB) is one of the most destructive and hard to control insect pests due to its resistance against pesticides. An alternative to pesticides has now been developed by researchers from Max Planck Institute. According to the researchers, the new technology utilizes molecular biology and allows for precise protection against CPB without using chemicals or introducing foreign proteins into the potato plant.

This was done by adopting the mechanism of RNS interference (RNAi) in protecting plant, fungi and insect against virus. The RNAi works by identifying the double stranded RNA transferred by the viral pathogen to host’s cell and chopping this dsRNA into small interfering RNAs (siRNAS). siRNAs are then used to detect and destroy foreign RNA.

This RNAi mechanism has been employed by genetically engineering plants to modify their nuclear genome to produce dsRNA against insect pests. The researchers aimed to improve upon this process by developing transplastomic plants, in which the chloroplast genome is subject to modification instead of the nuclear genome. Feeding studies of potato beetle larvae with the leaves of transplastomic plants show that the leaves are lethal to the larvae and gain an increase resistance against herbivores. For more information visit the Max Planck Institute.


February 19th, 2015

Palettes Affecting B.C. Potato Crops

About a third of B.C.'s potato production — both in acreage dedicated to the crop and in weight of annual produce — have disappeared over the course of a decade, and the industry says local appetites may be responsible.

Murray Driediger, president and CEO of BC Fresh, an organization owned by a number of local farming families, says he's seen this trend become more apparent as the province's demographic shifts with new cultural cuisines — many that don't make heavy use of the potato.

"The irony is, I know my kids, we go out to eat and they like Thai food and Japanese food and sushi and Indian food and all of these different things," Driediger says. "You've got a whole new generation being brought up with very expanded choices in menu items, and so what we've seen is the impact that is having on the product."

Driediger also pointed to the trend of "reduced carb" diets, people choosing other veggies to replace their potato consumption, and the ready availability of other fresh produce year-round cutting into demand.

"While our potato acreage may be down, our acreage in other areas has increased — our overall volume has increased over the last 10 years," he said, pointing to changes farmers have made to reflect the demand.

Some farmers in B.C. have also turned to smaller "baby potatoes," which weigh less, but sell for more. "They're harvested earlier, they sell for more, but they impact average yield — when we grow early potatoes in the months of June and July we got yields of 12-18,000 pounds per acre," Driediger says. "But when you're harvesting [bigger] potatoes in the fall, you may have crops in excess of 40,000 pounds to the acre." Read more at Vancouver 24 hrs.

France Starts Massive Marketing Campaign To Promote Potato

A major campaign to stimulate the consumption of potatoes has begun in France. Spearheaded by France's major potato association and financially supported by the French government and the European Union, the three-year effort will target various media platforms, including TV, web and social media.

The campaign encompasses two different marketing programs — one focused just on potatoes and the other focusing on other fruits and vegetables in addition to potatoes. The first campaign stresses the versatility of the potato, and delves into how different potato dishes require different potato characteristics and therefore different potato varieties.

France is the second potato producer in the western European Union, after Germany, and is the EU's biggest exporter of potatoes. For more information, visit Greenmed Journal.

Global Frozen Food Market To Reach $156 Billion By 2020

According to a new market report "Global Market Study on Frozen Food: Frozen Ready Meals to be the Largest Segment by 2020" published by Persistence Market Research, the global frozen food market was valued at $122.1 billion in 2013. It's expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 3.6 per cent from 2014 to 2020, to reach an estimated value of $156.4 billion in 2020.

Busy lives are influencing consumers to shift their dietary preferences towards ready-to-eat food products, making frozen foods an important part of the modern diet. The report cites changing customer purchasing patterns, rising numbers of women working outside the home, and increasing urban populations as driving factors behind the growth of the global frozen food market. The availability of a wide range of frozen food products in different food categories is another important factor.

Europe has the largest market share for frozen food, followed by North America and Asia Pacific. In Asia Pacific, economic developments paired with increasing urbanization and disposable income are some factors driving the frozen food market. As a result of these factors, this region is expected the experience the highest growth in this market. The report is available at Persistence Market Research.

Biotech Sweet Potatoes That Can Grow In The Desert

Scientists at the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology have developed a new technology that aims to prevent desertification using biotech crops, including sweet potato. The research team has successfully planted biotech sweet potatoes in China's Kubichi Desert and in Kazakhstan, two of the largest semi-arid areas in northeast Asia.

"Our ultimate goal is to grow a large amount of genetically modified sweet potatoes in areas affected by desertification in China, Kazakhstan, the Middle East, and Africa, based on decoded information on the genome of sweet potatoes," says research leader Kwak Sang-soo.

Sang-soo says about 90 percent of desertification is due to poverty. "Overgrazing, damage to forests, and the inappropriate management of water and soil, stemming from the poverty of the local people, are core reasons for desertification. So, the cultivation of crops can be the most effective preventative measure," he explains.

The research team is also decoding the genome of sweet potatoes in collaboration with Chinese and Japanese researchers. The genome of sweet potato is harder to decode than the human genome, but researchers predict the project will be completed in 2016. Read more at Business Korea.


February 4th, 2015

New Export Requirements Negotiated for P.E.I. Potatoes

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has negotiated an agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA- to prevent the spread of potato wart and maintain market access for Canadian potato growers.

According to a CFIA industry notice issued Jan. 26, new requirements are now in place for exporting potatoes from Prince Edward Island to the U.S.

Due to recent detections of potato wart on P.E.I., the CFIA continues to survey for this pest and is enforcing restrictions to prevent further spread from infested and associated fields. Potatoes from any field under CFIA restrictions for potato wart are not eligible for shipment to the U.S.

All other requirements for the export of potatoes produced in Canada, including P.E.I., remain in effect and must be met. The above additional requirements are strictly for P.E.I. potatoes destined for the U.S.

Potato wart poses no risk to human health or food safety. However, it can impact the economic viability of the potato industry by reducing yield and making potatoes unmarketable.

Since 2000, when potato wart was first detected on P.E.I., the CFIA has confirmed the detection of potato wart in 23 fields on the Island These detections are expected and are as a result of ongoing CFIA survey activities and industry vigilance.

The potato industry has an important role to play in meeting U.S. import requirements and maintaining access for Canadian potatoes. The CFIA will seek the full collaboration of stakeholders to continue traceability activities and to verify that all applicable treatments have been applied.

CFIA inspectors continue to monitor for potato wart through ongoing surveillance, soil sampling and analysis. The CFIA and USDA-APHIS, along with industry representatives from both countries, continue to work closely together to prevent the spread of potato wart and maintain the trade of potatoes.

For a listing of complete requirements for potatoes from P.E.I., visit the CFIA website.

Reward Deadline Extended in Potato Tampering Investigation

A $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrests of the person or persons responsible for inserting sewing needles into potatoes in Prince Edward Island has been extended to April 30.

Originally, the reward fund was established in November by the Prince Edward Island Potato Board, and was in effect for tips received up until Jan. 31. There have been no arrests to date in the police investigation, so the reward deadline has been extended.

A press release put out by the P.E.I. Potato Board on Feb. 2 states: "The potatoes were destined for human consumption and the local industry remains concerned about the effect cowardly acts such as this have on the confidence of consumers in the food supply."

Anyone knowing the individual or individuals involved, or who has information that would assist police in this investigation, is asked to contact the Prince Edward Island RCMP at 902 436 9300. Alternatively, an email can be sent to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and an investigator will respond.

Information may be provided anonymously to Crime Stoppers by phone at 1 800 222 8477 (TIPS), via the web at peicrimestoppers.com, or by text by texting "TIP162" plus your message to (274637) CRIMES.

Herbicide Label Expanded to Control Weeds on Potatoes

The Pest Management Regulatory Agency recently announced the approval of a minor use label expansion for Reflex herbicide for control of weeds on potatoes in Eastern Canada. This Syngenta herbicide was already labeled for management of weeds on beans and cucumbers in Canada.

This minor use project was originally submitted by the Ontario government in 2012 as a result of minor use priorities established by growers and extension personnel in Canada. For more information visit Ontario Farmer.

Levels of Zebra Chip Down in U.S. Pacific Northwest

Researchers say levels of zebra chip, a crop disease in potatoes spread by potato psyllids and caused by the Liberibacter bacterium, are dropping in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. A new study indicates the number of potato psyllids found harboring the Liberibacter bacteria dropped significantly during 2014.

Zebra chip, which causes bands in potato flesh that darken when fried, first arrived in the Pacific Northwest in 2011. By 2012, infections remained minimal as a percentage of the overall Idaho crop but ran as high as 15 percent in certain spud fields, says University of Idaho Extension entomologist Erik Wenninger.

In 2013, 33 of 1,093 psyllids captured through a UI monitoring program tested positive for Liberibacter. Just 170 psyllids were captured in 2014, with four testing positive for Liberibacter. No infected spud plants were found. For more information, visit Capital Press.

New Research Confirms French Fries Not a Source of Trans Fat

More than any other segment of the food industry, the potato industry has made the greatest improvements in the fatty acid profile of its products, including french fried potatoes. Although the oils used to cook today's fries are now predominately all-vegetable oils that contain primarily mono- and polyunsaturated fats, french fries are still often incorrectly cited as a source of trans fat in popular media and scientific publications alike. The dramatic reduction in the trans fat content of french fried potatoes was recently confirmed by two new studies published in Preventing Chronic Disease.

Researchers at the Jean Mayer United States Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University near Boston, Mass., analyzed the calorie, sodium, saturated fat, and the trans fat content of popular menu items served at three national fast food chains between 1996 and 2013. They found that while the average calorie, sodium and saturated fat content stayed relatively constant across most menu items, there was a marked and consistent decline in the trans fat content of french fries.

In fact, the researchers noted that when assessed per 1,000 kcal, the trans fat content of french fries, independent of fast food chains, declined in the last decade to become virtually undetectable.

These changes are documented by three more key government studies, which were acknowledged by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in its recent notice on the proposed rule on the Generally Recognized as Safe status of partially hydrogenated oils. In addition to transforming the nutrient profile of cooking oils, innovations in food technology are continually improving the nutrient profiles of all forms of the white potato to ensure that this already nutritious, affordable, and popular vegetable continues to align with dietary guidance.

The most recent available consumption data show that french fries are consumed in amounts well within current dietary guidance and that they contribute important nutrients while providing a very small proportion of calories, saturated fat and trans fat to the diets of North Americans. Today's french fries are prepared with healthier oils, and are consumed in moderation, and can be part of a healthy, well-balanced diet.

For more information on the nutrient profile of modern french fries, visit Alliance for Potato Research and Education.


February 3rd, 2015

500 Attend Manitoba Potato Production Days

According to organizers, approximately 500 growers, processors and other industry representatives gathered in Brandon, Man., for Manitoba Potato Production Days. The annual conference and trade show, which this year featured more than a dozen speakers and close to 75 exhibits and displays, ran Jan. 23 to 25.

Joe Brennan, a retired potato grower and the former chair of both Potatoes New Brunswick and the Canadian Potato Council, spoke on Jan. 24 about a project to improve yields and competitiveness for the New Brunswick potato industry. Brennan is managing the project, which started last year and is a joint effort by Potatoes New Brunswick, McCain Foods, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the New Brunswick department of agriculture.

Part of the Brennan's mandate is to observe growing practices in other potato producing areas, and he spoke about a trip he'd just taken to Argentina with a group of growers from New Brunswick and Maine as well as some McCain representatives.

Brennan said the group spent a week touring farms that supplies a McCain plant in Argentina to compare growing practices and see what lessons could be learned and applied to potato production in New Brunswick and Maine.

Producers in Argentina, he said, are facing many of the same challenges as many Canadian and American growers in the increasingly competitive global processing potato market. However, the South American country has favourable growing conditions and a very large potato growing area, Brennan added, with yields in the range of 500 hundredweight per acre. He also noted there are improvements in the works in Argentina that could boost potato yields up to 600 hundredweight per acre.

"They do a very good job there," Brennan said. "The potential is staggering."

For more information about Manitoba Potato Production Days, visit mbpotatodays.ca.

Neonicotinoids and Honey Bee Health

One of best-attended presentations at Manitoba Potato Production Days, the three-day potato conference and trade show which ran Jan. 23 to 25 in Brandon, Man., focused on neonicotinoid pesticides and honey bee health.

Maryam Sultan spoke Jan. 24 in support of the use of neonicotinoids, the subject of much debate in recent years because of some research linking these insecticides to bee deaths.

Sultan has been working as a honey bee health associate for Bayer CropScience in Guelph, Ont., since April, 2014. Before that she participated in a large-scale field experiment in southern Ontario during the summer of 2012 and the spring of 2013 to determine whether exposure to neonicotinoid seed-treated canola had any adverse impacts on honey bees.

During the study, honey bees foraging on test fields were exposed to low levels of clothianidin, a type of neonicotinoid. Chemical residue analysis indicated that exposure to canola grown from seed treated with clothianidin poses a low risk to honey bees.

"We found no correlation between the presence of neonicotinoids and any signs of stress in the hives," Sultan told her audience at MPPD.

She added that weather has a significant impact on bee health. "Cold springs can really affect their foraging, and they may not have enough food available," said Sultan, adding that "supplemental feeding is essential for hives, especially in the spring."

Sultan also touched on the growing body of research related to the complexity of honey bee health, and how different stressors such as bee diseases, viruses and parasites like the Varroa mite can all play a role in population declines. "What is the impact of viruses and other micro-organisms on hive health?" she asked. "We just don't know enough about that."

For more information about Manitoba Potato Production Days, visit mbpotatodays.ca.


January 22nd, 2015

Bayer Showcases Spud Power at 2015 Potato Expo

During the 2015 Potato Expo held recently in Orlando, Fla., Bayer CropScience demonstrated the power of one of the world's most important staple crops through the Share the Spuds giving campaign. The initiative encouraged attendees to help Bayer decide how to allocate a $10,000 donation to the Society of St. Andrew, an organization that provides potatoes and other fresh produce to help feed the hungry, by voting on the geographic breakdown of the donation.

While at the Bayer booth, Potato Expo attendees also had the opportunity to charge their devices with an alternative power source — potato electricity. Bayer CropScience demonstrated the power of the potato as an electrical conduit with its nine-by-four foot potato wall. When paired with zinc and copper, the moisture inside a potato acts as battery acid. Booth visitors charged their electronic devices at a charging station powered by nearly 1,000 potatoes. For more information visit Bayer CropScience.

CPMA Launches Half Your Plate Program

The Canadian Produce Marketing Association and its partners have launched Half Your Plate, a new healthy eating initiative, across the country. Half Your Plate is aimed at empowering Canadians of all ages to eat more fruits and veggies to improve their health while providing simple and practical ways to add a variety of produce to every meal and snack. After a successful launch on social media this summer, Half Your Plate is now making its way onto produce packaging and into retail stores across Canada.

"Now is the perfect time to introduce consumers to Half Your Plate. It's a new year and a great time to start eating healthier, especially when it's this easy," says Sam Silvestro, chair of the CPMA marketing and promotions committee.

"Rather than having people count servings or worry about serving size, our messaging is that at every meal, make half your plate fruit and vegetables. By the end of the day, you'll have your recommended number of servings," says Ron Lemaire, president of the CPMA. "That also translates when you're at the grocery store. Half your cart should be fruit and veggies, and having retailers promote the campaign re-emphasizes the importance of making healthier choices at the store."

Although Canadians are becoming more conscious of what they eat, studies show that the average person only consumes 3.5 to 4.5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Yet Canada's Food Guide recommends that adults get seven to 10 servings per day, depending on gender. Half Your Plate encourages people to take it one meal at a time, analysing the make-up of their plate rather than specific servings that can be confusing to many.

The Half Your Plate campaign was developed in collaboration with health partners the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Public Health Association and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. For more information visit Half Your Plate.

Experts Say Potatoes Contribute to National Security of India

Scientists who attended India's International Potato Expo recently said that the potato has played an important role in the nutritional security of the country.

"The challenge of food security is over, with abundant wheat and rice being grown in the country, but it is not providing nutritional security. We have to depend on potatoes to give proper nutrition to the country," said BP Singh, director of the Central Potato Research Institute in Shimla, India.

Singh added potatoes alone contributed four times more than wheat and rice to the nation's gross domestic product. Potato production has grown from 1.5 million tonnes in 1949 to 40 million tonnes in 2008.

"By 2050, we want the production to reach more than 200 million tonnes, which is possible with research," Singh said. For more information visit Hindustan Times.

China to Position Potato as Staple Food

The potato is poised to become China's newest staple food after rice, wheat and corn. According to the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture, by 2020, 50 per cent of the annual production of potatoes will be for domestic consumption as a staple food.

Rice, wheat and corn have been primary foods for Chinese people for thousands of years. The potato is popular as a vegetable in Chinese cuisine, but the Ministry of Agriculture is now trying to increase its profile as a staple food.

"In making the potato into a staple food, we're trying to process it into bread steamed bun and noodle which is suited to Chinese consumer behaviour. It is also to turn it from a non-staple food into a staple food," says Pan Wenbo, deputy head of the department of crop protection with the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture.

China will experience 50 billion kilograms of new food demand by 2020. But it has a shortage of farmland and it is hard to improve the yield of wheat and rice, which makes the potato an attractive alternative crop, according to the Chinese agriculture officials.

"Potato can survive in cold, drought and barren environment. It has great potential to be planted in large vacant fields in the south during winter," says Yu Xinrong, China's vice minister of agriculture. For more information visit Ministry of Agriculture of the People's Republic of China.

UV Bursts Offer Chemical-free Destruction of Seed Potato Pathogens

Britain's Techneat Engineering has unveiled a new, pulsed UV light system for cleaning seed potatoes and fresh produce. Already in use in industrial and healthcare sterilization equipment, the technology has now been trialed with growers and industry specialists.

The patented technology concentrates UV energy into a flash lasting fractions of a millisecond, at a wavelength that terminally disrupts the DNA and cell structure of pathogens.

According to researchers at the Potato Council's Sutton Bridge research centre, the technique can potentially tackle both bacterial and fungal diseases, including blackleg, silver scurf, black dot and other potato skin disorders.

Laboratory trials have demonstrated a single flash of pulsed UV light gave an 85 per cent reduction in live blackleg bacteria on the tuber surface, with a flash sequence yielding a 97 per cent reduction, with no adverse effect on the tuber itself.

Its role in extending the shelf life of salad and vegetable crops is currently under investigation. For more information visit Techneat Engineering.

West Coast Shipping Hinders Idaho Exports

Following the holiday season, prices in the Idaho potato market remain strong. "We are very encouraged by the positive market so far this year," says Frank Muir, president of the Idaho Potato Commission.

While Europe is currently experiencing low prices due to an increase in volume, this causes no impact on the American potato market. However, the Idaho Potato Commission is experiencing a disadvantage in overseas shipping.

"The European market is not affecting us," states Muir, "but we are greatly affected by West Coast shipping problems." Although Idaho's shipping pace is ahead of last year, delays by the longshoremen's union have created a hold up on international exports.

"A strike has not been declared, but junior workers with less experience are handling all shipments. There is no hurry and shipments are slowing down," he says.

According to Muir, West Coast shipping problems have been happening for several months and are causing a big impact on the U.S. market. "They are essentially controlling the market," he says. "Their actions are causing companies to lose customers throughout the Northwest."

Idaho potatoes are shipped in three main varieties: fresh, frozen, and dehydrated. Delays have affected all three categories. "Asia buys a lot of dehydrated potatoes for snacking and cooking needs," says Muir, "delays in fresh potato shipments are most devastating as they have a shelf life. Frozen potatoes keep longer, however it is costly to store them." For more information visit Idaho Potato Commission.


January 8th, 2015

Ontario Potato Conference Coming Up in March

Guelph, Ont., is gearing up to host the Ontario Potato Conference on March 5. The speakers' list for this year's event includes Gary Secor from North Dakota State University, who will deliver a presentation on late blight management in the field and in storage. Peter VanderZaag of Sunrise Potato Storage Ltd. in Alliston, Ont. will also speak about his experience with late blight from a potato producer's perspective.

The black cutworm is potato pest that can cause significant yield losses by chewing holes in tubers, making them unmarketable. Ian MacRae from the University of Minnesota will discuss management practices to reduce yield losses caused by this insect.

Michael Thornton from the University of Idaho will talk about potato growth and the strategies for increasing yield and quality during crop development. Christine Brown from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rurual Affairs will discuss soil management practices to enhance soil health. To register for this year's Ontario Potato Conference contact Eugenia Banks at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Bravo ZN Fungicide Label Expanded to 30 New Crops

Syngenta Canada Inc. has announced that Bravo ZN, a fungicide of choice for many potato growers, has received registration for use on 30 new crops including pulses, fruiting vegetables, cucurbit vegetables, blueberries, onions and ginseng.

"Bravo ZN is widely used by potato growers to control in-season disease pressure," says Eric Phillips, product lead of fungicides and insecticides for Syngenta Canada. "Now, growers can realize the same disease control across a broad range of crops, thanks to the recent label expansion of Bravo ZN fungicide."

Bravo ZN is a broad-spectrum, contact fungicide powered by the active ingredient chlorothalonil, which offers protection against several damaging diseases. It also includes Syngenta's patented WeatherStik technology, a surfactant that maximizes the product's rainfastness. For more information visit Syngenta Canada.

TomTato Comes to the U.S.

An Oregon seed company is offering gardeners potatoes and tomatoes together in a plant known as the TomTato, a hybrid of cherry tomatoes and potatoes. The Territorial Seed Company in Cottage Grove, Ore., is calling it "Ketchup 'n' Fries."

The Oregonian reports the plant was developed in the United Kingdom. The roots of the TomTato are thin-skinned white potatoes attached to a vine of red cherry tomatoes. The seed company says since potatoes and tomatoes are fairly closely related, they graft well together. It's not genetic engineering.

The Territorial Seed Company, is selling the TomTato in its 2015 seed catalog as a way for home gardeners to maximize use of limited space. Instead of planting potatoes and tomatoes in separate areas, the company's literature for the TomTato advises that the plant can grow in a 10-gallon container. For more information visit the Oregonian newspaper.


December 23rd, 2014

VITAMIN TREATMENT FOR POTATOES SHOWS PROMISE

Just like vitamins provide people with a natural immune system boost, researchers are testing whether they could benefit potatoes grown in Oregon in the same way.

For the past year, specialists at the Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center have been researching whether vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, can help potato plants fight off the two disease threats to the crop: Potato Virus Y (PVY) and Zebra Chip. Specialists are now starting to get the results of the trial.

Post-doctoral student Amber Vinchesi, plant biologist Aymeric Goyer and entomologist Silvia Rondon spent last summer researching vitamin B1 and how it has positively affected the ability of some crops to fight off disease.

Goyer says cucumber, grape, tobacco and rice crops have successfully fought off diseases that threaten them after they were treated with thiamine, but potato plants have not been tested until now. The researchers hope that by treating potato plants with thiamine, the vitamin will boost the plant's immune systems and better equip it to fight off PVY and Zebra Chip.

"PVY is the No. 1 disease in potatoes," Goyer says. "It has been here for many years now, and there are new PVY strains that are appearing. It looks like it is going to be here for a while."

Vinchesi says the main issue with both PVY and Zebra Chip is they decrease yield and tuber quality of the potatoes, making them unmarketable.

Goyer, Vinchesi and Rondon set up two-stage trials to test the effects of the vitamin on potatoes in fending off each disease. To test the effectiveness of thiamine on Zebra Chip, the researchers sprayed the vitamin on a selection of plants and then released infected potato psyllids, a type of pest that can carry the bacteria for the disease, into cages containing potato plants. The effects of the disease on the tubers were then evaluated.

Goyer says the initial analysis shows no real differences in potato yield, but results are preliminary at this point. "It is still in the early stages, but we are hopeful because it worked on many plants with many different diseases," he says. "It would be very unlikely if it didn't work on potatoes with the two diseases we are trying to test."

Goyer says even though they haven't unearthed any positive results from the trial, the group will continue the tests into the next growing season. For more information visit the Hermiston Herald.

U.S. POTATO STOCKS DOWN FROM 2012

According to Unites States Department of Agriculture figures, the 13 major potato states held 263 million hundredweight of potatoes in storage as of Dec. 1, down three per cent from two years ago. Potatoes in storage accounted for 66 per cent of the 2014 fall storage states' production, the same as two years earlier.

Potato disappearance was pegged at 136 million hundredweight, down two per cent from December 2012. Season-to-date shrink and loss, at 13.8 million hundredweight, was the same as two years earlier.

Processors in the nine major states used 74.4 million hundredweight of potatoes for the season, down one per cent from December 2012. For more information visit the Unites States Department of Agriculture.

POTATO GROWERS SCORE WITH SPENDING BILL PROVISION

The white potato is among the special interests rewarded in a massive spending deal unveiled earlier this month by the United States Congress. Included the $1-trillion bill is a provision that reverses the ban on white potatoes in the federal government's nutritional program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).

The program provides vouchers to help low-income pregnant and breastfeeding women buy nutritious food for themselves and their children younger than five years old. About 8.7 million Americans participate in the WIC program each month.

In 2007, the WIC program expanded to make fresh vegetables and fruits and eligible for purchase with the vouchers. But white potatoes did not make the cut. Government scientists argued that most Americans did not need the extra inducement to consume the starchy vegetable.

Potato growers fought back, defending the spud as a prime source of potassium and fibre.

They appear to have scored a big victory with inclusion in a bill that is needed to avert a government shutdown.

"This bill corrects the exclusion of fresh potatoes and allows WIC participants to make wholesome food choices for their young families," says Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho.

John Keeling, executive vice-president and CEO of the National Potato Council, says credit also goes to scores and scores of federal lawmakers who have weighed in on the issue over the years. "We're pleased about this," Keeling says. "We think it's a good way to put this issue behind us and move forward."

The NPC, which represents about 90 per cent of American potato growers, has spent $180,000 on federal lobbying during the first nine months of this year, up from $120,000 during the same period in 2013, Senate records show. For more information visit USA Today.

TOMRA TO EXHIBIT NEW SORTING SYSTEM

TOMRA Sorting Food will exhibit its innovative Halo sorting system at Potato Expo 2015, the largest conference and trade show for the potato industry in North America being held Jan. 7 to 9 in Orlando, Florida.

The company will showcase the capabilities of the Halo sensor-based optical food sorter and its new user interface design by sorting a variety of potatoes. According to TOMRA, the Halo sorter generates significant savings in labour costs for customers, averaging above 80 per cent. Other benefits include: yield increases of up to two per cent; low operational costs; up to 25 per cent faster throughput; improved produce quality; and a quick return on investment.

The Halo uses top and bottom sensor banks to view each individual object ‘in flight' using a combination of special cameras and scanners to perform targeted spectroscopy with one millimeter precision. The advanced system views and analyzes visible attributes such as colour, shape, blemish, foreign material, as well as invisible defects to the product composition.

According to TOMRA, the intelligent user interface makes sorting adjustments simple and predictable, giving the operator full control. Each user can define their own sorting criteria by changing the settings in relation to how the machine identifies defects and other product features.

"As sort requirements become more complex and with customers using the sorter for multiple varieties of potatoes, washed, packed or processed on a daily basis, the job for the user controlling the sorter has become more challenging. Our new user interface allows operators to apply their own defect levels against the different types, colours and sizes of potatoes in order to process more and reduce food waste," says Jim Frost, market unit manager at TOMRA Sorting Food.

"Using the new interface, operators will also be able to set up a combined sort which moves a potato that would ordinarily be classified as waste to a separate process where it still has a marketable grade. A small colour defect on a small potato, for example, will be streamed as waste, but that same small defect on a bigger potato will still be within the grade."

The system uses a touchscreen drag and drop feature which enables operators to choose and set the quality of potatoes to pass through individual sorting streams, while an on-screen dashboard feeds back data for users to see quickly and easily information about size and defect profiles. This data can also be used at a later date for further product analysis and traceability. For more information visit TOMRA Sorting Food.

MCDONALD'S JAPAN RUNNING OUT OF FRIES

A labor dispute on the American West Coast has caused 3,135 McDonald's restaurants in Japan to restrict their sales of french fries. The dispute that's between 20,000 dockworkers and the shipping lines that employ them at 29 U.S. ports has lengthened the time it takes to get the required tonnage of frozen fried potatoes to Japan from two to four weeks.

The dispute, coupled with rail service delays, record levels of imports into the U.S., and other factors, means that McDonald's restaurants in Japan will only be able to sell small portions of french fries over the busy New Year period.

A spokesperson said without the sales restriction, the company was in danger of running of out french fries at some of the restaurants in Japan by the end of the year. There's no word yet when medium and large portions will be back on the menu. For more information visit Reuters.


December 11th, 2014

REWARD DOUBLED IN POTATO TAMPERING CASE

The reward being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for putting sewing needles into potatoes from Linkletter Farms in Prince Edward Island has doubled. Additional funding from potato industry groups and the P.E.I. government has raised the reward to $100,000 from the initial offer of $50,000.

Since establishing the reward fund back in November, the P.E.I. Potato Board says it has been offered financial support from new sources within the potato industry in P.E.I. and other areas of Canada. One of these is Peak of the Market, a Manitoba grower-owned vegetable supplier that contacted the board and Linkletter Farms to offer a substantial donation to the reward fund.

"As an industry we cannot stand by and allow others to interfere in the supply of safe food," says Peak of the Market Board Chairman Keith Kuhl.

At the Potato Board's Annual General Meeting on Nov. 21, P.E.I. Minister of Agriculture and Forestry George Webster announced that his department would be adding $10,000 to the reward fund.

"If there is anything good that can be said to come from this mess, it is the sense of solidarity everyone has shown us. Hopefully the reward will help to identify the culprit and bring this tampering episode to an end," says Gary Linkletter, co-owner of Linkletter Farms.

The reward will be given to anyone who provides information before Jan. 31 that leads to an arrest and conviction in the case. Anonymous tips are also now eligible to receive the reward. For more information visit P.E.I. Potato Board.

2014 CANADIAN POTATO PRODUCTION

Canadian potato production for 2014 is estimated at 102.0 million hundredweight (4.6 million tonnes), down 0.7 per cent from 2013, according to Statistics Canada. The totatl harvested potato area in Canada decreased in 2014 while average yield increased. Nationally, potato yield was 298 hundredweight per acre (33.4 tonnes per hectare), up two per cent from 2013. Harvested area was 342,018 acres (138,410 hectares), down 2.7 per cent from 2013.

For the second year in a row, Manitoba had the largest decrease in seeded area, down 9.4 per cent to 63,384 acres (25,651 hectares). Prince Edward Island farmers reported the largest increase in seeded area for 2014, up 1.7 per cent from 2013 to 90,500 acres (36,624 hectares). For more information visit Statistics Canada.

POTATO: A FUTURE SOURCE FOR CARDIO-VASCULAR HEALTH

A research scientist at MTT Agrifood Research Finland has developed methods of producing bioactive peptides from food industry by-products. According to Makinen's research, "The potato and rapeseed industry produce vast amounts of protein-rich by-products, which could be utilized in the production of high-quality foodstuffs," says Sari Makinen, who utilized these by-products as sources of diverse bioactive peptides for his study. "My research produced new information about the methods, which are suitable for producing peptides in the industry. Furthermore, we are especially interested in the favorable effects that peptides have on blood pressure. They have an effect on the angiotensin-converting enzyme, which plays a key role in the regulation of blood pressure," says Makinen.

In her research, Makinen also analyzed the antioxidant properties of the peptides. They can further improve cardio-vascular health by inhibiting oxidation reactions in cells. In Makinen's study, peptides were produced with enzymatic hydrolysis and fermentation. The research results show that peptides can be produced from potato and rapeseed proteins with enzymatic hydrolysis and these peptides have potential antihypertensive as well as antioxidant properties.

According to Makinen, producing peptides from the proteins of potatoes and rapeseed in the industrial scale is not yet possible in Finland and there is still a long way to go before commercial peptide products are available. However, she maintains the methods used in her research meet the requirements of the food industry and can be developed to function in the industrial scale. For more information visit MTT Agrifood Research Finland.

USDA DEVELOPS NEW VARIETIES WITH COLOURED FLESH

Scientists with the United States Department of Agriculture have helped develop a number of nutritious new potatoes varieties with red and purple flesh and skin that are now available to consumers.

The most-eaten U.S. vegetable, phytonutrient-rich potatoes can have a strong impact on human health, according to USDA Agricultural Research Service plant geneticist Charles Brown, who has bred the three unique red- and purple-pigmented potato varieties at ARS's Vegetable and Forage Crops Research Laboratory in Prosser, Washington. Brown worked on developing and evaluating the varieties as a contributing partner with the Northwest (Tri State) Potato Variety Development Program. Getting the colorful potatoes to consumers has taken decades.

Brown and his colleagues analyzed and compared concentrations of phytochemicals in yellow- and purple-pigmented potatoes and in white potatoes in a study. The team reported that purple potatoes had a 20-fold greater concentration of anthocyanins than yellow potatoes. No detectable amounts of anthocyanins were found in white potatoes. In the same study, the team also compared sensory evaluations of pigmented potatoes with those of white potatoes. When yellow, purple and white potatoes were ranked by a consumer panel, no significant differences in flavour or in overall acceptance were observed.

The three new potato varieties with colored flesh now available to consumers are TerraRosa, Amarosa and Purple Fiesta (also known as Purple Pelisse). They perform well across a variety of preparation methods such as baking, roasting, microwaving, steaming and mashing. For more information visit the November/December 2014 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

CIP POTATOES OFFER OPTION FOR CLIMATE CHANGE

Peru's farmers are able to access a greater diversity of potato varieties for climate adaptation, thanks to the continued work of a groundbreaking agreement between the International Potato Center (CIP), the Peruvian NGO known as Andes, and the Association of the Potato Park communities.

In the Peruvian highlands near Cusco, climate change has already had a substantial impact on potato production. Rising temperatures have been correlated with increased pests and diseases, making it difficult for farmers to grow potatoes, their staple food. The effects of these temperature changes are very pronounced in the Potato Park, a valley outside of Cusco, where just 30 years ago, cultivation of native potato was routinely done at 3,800 metres. Now, native potato cultivation starts at around 4,000 metres. In just 30 years, challenges associated with a warming climate have pushed potato cultivation up by 200 metres.

The speed of this change in planting zones due to a warming climate is unprecedented as it is pushing the farmers to the top of the mountain, beyond which there is no more soil or land. In addition to moving to higher elevation for potato cultivation, Quechua farmers in the Potato Park are also responding to this challenge by stewarding over 1,440 cultivars of native potato. These include their own varieties plus cultivars that different entities have provided to the Park, 410 of which have come from CIP.

The five communities that make up the Potato Park are also working with CIP scientists in the characterization of potato diversity, monitoring changes in potato varieties used over time and testing of varieties in different parts of the landscape, a combined territory of over 9,000 hectares.

The agreement with CIP has brought back varieties that had been collected from the communities in the 1960s but then lost. The resulting landscape-based gene bank is actively managed by the five Potato Park communities. It provides a critical source of climate-resilient crops for adaptation, both locally and globally.

"The landmark agreement between CIP and the Potato Park for repatriation and monitoring of native potatoes represents a fundamental shift in approach. Rather than only collecting crops from farmers, scientists have also given farmers crops from their gene bank in return," says Alejandro Argumedo, director of programs for Andes. "The disease-free seeds and scientific knowledge gained have boosted food security, and the new varieties have enhanced income, enabling the communities to develop novel food products." For more information visit the International Potato Center.

CONTROLLING OBESITY WITH POTATO EXTRACT

Take a look in your pantry: the miracle ingredient for fighting obesity may already be there. A simple potato extract may limit weight gain from a diet that is high in fat and refined carbohydrates, according to scientists at McGill University in Montreal, Que.

The results of their recent study were so surprising that the investigators repeated the experiment just to be sure.

Investigators fed mice an obesity-inducing diet for 10 weeks. The results soon appeared on the scale: mice that started out weighing on average 25 grams put on about 16 grams. But mice that consumed the same diet but with a potato extract gained much less weight: only seven more grams. The benefits of the extract are due to its high concentration of polyphenols, a beneficial chemical component found in fruits and vegetables.

"We were astonished by the results," says Luis Agellon, one of the study's authors. "We thought this can't be right — in fact, we ran the experiment again using a different batch of extract prepared from potatoes grown in another season, just to be certain."

The rate of obesity due to overeating continues to rise in Canada, affecting one in every four adults. Obesity increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. According to this study, potato extracts could be a solution for preventing both obesity and type 2 diabetes.

"The daily dose of extract comes from 30 potatoes, but of course we don't advise anyone to eat 30 potatoes a day," says Stan Kubow, principal author of the study, "as that would be an enormous number of calories." What the investigators envisage instead is making the extract available as a dietary supplement or simply as a cooking ingredient to be added in the kitchen.

Popularly known for its carbohydrate content, the potato is also a source of polyphenols. "In the famous French diet, considered to be very healthy, potatoes — not red wine — are the primary source of polyphenols," says Kubow. "In North America, potatoes come third as a source of polyphenols — before the popular blueberries."

"Potatoes have the advantage of being cheap to produce, and they're already part of the basic diet in many countries," Kubow explains. "We chose a cultivated variety that is consumed in Canada and especially rich in polyphenols."

The research team hopes to patent the potato extract, and is currently seeking partners, mainly from the food industry, to contribute to funding clinical trials. Although humans and mice metabolize foods in similar ways, clinical trials are necessary to validate beneficial effects in humans. And the optimal dose for men and women needs to be determined, since their metabolisms differ.

This study was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canada Foundation for Innovation. For more information visit McGill University.

P.E.I. POTATO BOARD ELECTS NEW CHAIRMAN

The Prince Edward Island Potato Board has a new executive as a result of its Dec. 10 Board of Directors meeting. Alex Docherty of Elmwood, P.E.I., was elected the new chairman of the board, succeeding Gary Linkletter who completed four years as board chair. Docherty and his family own and operate Skyeview Farms Ltd., growing seed and tablestock potatoes. Docherty also represents the seed sector for the Charlottetown District on the PEIPB.

The new vice-chairman of the board is Darryl Wallace of Wallace Family Farms in Cascumpec, P.E.I. Wallace represents the processing sector for the West Prince District. Joining the executive committee as secretary/treasurer is Charles Murphy of Murphy's Seed Potatoes Inc. in China Point, P.E.I. Murphy represents the seed sector for the Charlottetown District on the PEIPB.

Also joining the board are two new directors: Glen Rayner of Rayner Farms in Cascumpec, representing the seed sector for the West Prince District; and John Hogg of Klondike Farms in Wilmot Valley, P.E.I., representing the processing sector for the Summerside District.

The returning PEIPB directors are: Donald Godfrey, Irwin Jay, Kirk Shea, Owen Ching, Gary Linkletter, David Francis and Rodney Dingwall. The board also recognized the efforts of retiring Board members Darryl Wilkie and Barry Green for their service, as well as recognizing Gary Linkletter for his excellent leadership as chairman for the past four years. For more information visit P.E.I. Potato Board.


November 27th, 2014

LOW GLYCEMIC POTATO COULD BENEFIT DIABETICS

Scientist Benoit Bizimungu and his team at the Potato Research Centre in Fredericton, N.B., and the Lethbridge Research Centre in Alberta have developed a low glycemic potato. Low glycemic index foods digest slowly, without creating a big spike of sugar and insulin in the body. This helps to achieve sustainable weight loss and improvement in the management of diabetes. Further trials will tell whether the new potato could open up new menu possibilities for diabetics and others with low glycemic diets.

"Our first release successfully completed two years of industry evaluation in 2013. This year, Parkland Seed Potatoes Ltd. in Edmonton, Alta., was granted exclusive testing rights of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's low glycemic potato, with the option to license it," says Bizimungu.

New selections of low glycemic potatoes are being developed at the Potato Research Centre. As their performance proves satisfactory, these selections will progressively be released to industry for commercial evaluation and market development.

Other specialty potatoes being developed by scientists Bizimungu, Agnes Murphy, Helen Tai and David De Koeyer in Fredericton include germplasm with pigmented flesh and enhanced antioxidant content, as well as potatoes with high starch for industrial use.

The new varieties are developed using traditional breeding methods and exploiting natural genetic diversity existing in local or exotic potato germplasm from South America. Some new technologies help to speed up the development process. For instance, a near-infrared spectrometer and a rheometer at the Potato Research Centre allow scientists to measure starch content and composition of potatoes with a simple test. This technology eliminates years of trial and error to identify desirable characteristics.

This mix of traditional techniques and new technologies is helping scientists develop potatoes that are adapted to local growing conditions and that have improved nutritional qualities to meet consumer needs and enhance human health. Introducing new varieties to the market creates new opportunities for farmers and helps keep them competitive. The next step is for the potato industry to test the varieties for their commercial potential. For more information visit Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

CONAGRA EXPANDS TO CHINA

ConAgra Foods Inc. has opened its first plant in China, a Lamb Weston potato processing facility in the Chinese city of Shangdu. ConAgra acquired the facility when it purchased TaiMei Potato Industries Limited. The acquisition is part of the company's strategy to grow its international business.

The facility, which began production on Oct. 31, expands Lamb Weston's operations in a market that has growing demand for frozen potato products. Lamb Weston makes a variety of frozen potato, sweet potato and other vegetable products for restaurants, retailers and food service operators in more than 100 countries around the world. It has been doing business in China and throughout Asia for more than 25 years, leading the way in market development in the region.

The plant is located in one of the largest potato growing regions in China and will enable Lamb Weston to make frozen potato products closer to its expanding customer base and meet the growing demand for frozen potato products in Asia. Approximately 340 people work at the facility, making frozen french fries for quick service restaurant and food service customers as well as potato flakes.

Since acquiring TaiMei, ConAgra Foods has invested in updates to the facility to meet exacting standards for employee safety, food safety and quality, bringing advanced potato planting and processing technologies to the market. For more information visit ConAgra Foods.

TOMRA OFFERS NEW SIZE GRADER FOR BULK POTATOES

TOMRA Sorting Food has unveiled its new Modus size grader "which can sort washed potatoes by width and length, or a combination of both," says Jim Frost, market unit manager whole products sorting at TOMRA Sorting Food. TOMRA offers the Modus as a stand-alone size grader or integrated with the Halo, Sentinel or Titan II for quality and size grading.

The Modus' operation is simple and effective. After alignment by a simple shaker and conveyor a unique new TOMRA imaging module and electromagnetic diversion system is used to gently divert the potatoes of the selected sizes into three different exits.

The Modus is also supported by the new intuitive and user-friendly TOMRA user interface. "The new user interface makes settings for grading easy. Length and width ranges, or a combination of both, are set in a few simple steps using the touch screen. In addition, the screen allows customers to view live product data which can be saved for use at a later date for traceability or analysis purposes, for example," says Frost.

Additionally the novel pulsed-LED sensor optics, proven on the Titan and Halo sorting platforms, is an important feature of the Modus, producing stability, accuracy on high volume whole potatoes.

"The sorting results are very impressive. The Modus is ultra-reliable, and very stable. Together with the long life illumination and the gentle high speed lift drop separator, which directs the potatoes into different grades, the Modus makes sure that our customers will benefit from accurate size grading," says Frost. For more information visit Tomra Sorting Food.

POTATO RESEARCH CENTRE HOLDS STAKEHOLDER DAY

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Potato Research Centre and BioNB, New Brunswick's bioscience sector authority and the organization responsible for supporting and promoting the province's biosciences sector, co-hosted a special event called Stakeholder Day on Nov. 26. Nearly 50 members of the farm, business and scientific communities in New Brunswick and across the Maritimes were invited to tour the Potato Research Centre to see the latest work by potato research scientists and what it could mean for the potato industry and consumers

The tours include potato breeders Benoit Bizimungu and Agnes Murphy talking about the future of potato breeding. In recent years, the Potato Research Centre has produced a diabetic-friendly potato, coloured varieties with higher antioxidant levels and a high-starch potato for the production of biodegradable plastic.

Visitors also learned about work focusing on controlling soil erosion and protecting waterways from soil run-off, an environmental priority for the potato industry and for Potato Research Centre scientists Serban Danielescu and Li Sheng. Using a technique called nuclear sediment fingerprinting, the researchers are able to pinpoint the source of soil in a waterway.

Another tour showcased research efforts by Xianzhou Nie, Sebastien Boquel, and Gilles Boiteau into how a closer look at plant viruses and insect behavior is producing new insights into pest control in agriculture that could have significant economic and environmental benefits.

The New Brunswick potato industry is looking to the Potato Research Centre to help increase yields. Working with McCain Foods Ltd., the provincial government, Potatoes New Brunswick and university partners, scientists Bernie Zebarth, Josee Owens and Claudia Goyer are taking to the sky and probing the earth for answers. They are using images from aerial drones that look at crop health on a large scale and massive data sequencers that measure microbial life in the soil.

Visitors were told how a DNA sequencing machine at the Potato Research Centre represents the latest chapter in the understanding of the potato genome that could one day see farmers using hand-held diagnostic devices to check the health of their plants. Researchers Helen Tai and Richard Hardin are using this powerful technology to find indicators in the DNA that would allow farmers, using a test in the field, to identify viruses, detect and predict cold sweetening in storage and identify plants that need more nutrients. For more information visit Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.


November 13th, 2014

USDA DEREGULATES INNATE POTATOES

J.R. Simplot Company is pleased that the United States Department of Agriculture has deregulated Innate potatoes, enabling them to be sold in the U.S. This approval comes after a decade of scientific development, safety assessments and extensive field tests. According to Simplot, Innate potatoes contain genes from wild and cultivated potatoes, grow naturally like conventional potatoes, and introduce no new allergens.

Simplot says it is looking forward to the completion of the FDA review process before Innate is introduced into the marketplace. The company plans to license the potatoes to select partners in limited test markets in the spring of 2015.

According to the Simplot website, "Innate potatoes have approximately 40 per cent less bruise caused by impact and pressure during harvest and storage than conventional potatoes and have lower levels of asparagine. With full market penetration for its varieties sold in the U.S., Innate will reduce annual potato waste by an estimated 400 million pounds in the food service and retail industries and a significant portion of the estimated three-billion pounds discarded by consumers." For more information, visit Simplot Plant Sciences.

REWARD OFFERED IN POTATO TAMPERING CASE

The Prince Edward Island Potato Board says the recent potato tampering case in that province "has left our industry feeling shocked, and is unacceptable for ourselves and the general public."

Members of the PEIPB joined police officials at a press conference in Charlottetown, P.E.I., on Nov. 10 to announce they are seeking the public's help in identifying suspects involved in the case.

"To encourage anyone with knowledge concerning this attack on food safety to come forward, the Prince Edward Island potato industry has established a fund to cover a reward of up to $50,000 for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual or individuals responsible for inserting sewing needles into potatoes of Linkletter Farms Ltd. which were destined for human consumption," said Greg Donald, PEIPB general manager.

"For the health of Linkletter Farms and the entire industry, we know we all wish to see this incident resolved as quickly as possible."

A PEIPB press release states that once a conviction has been obtained, an independent panel will determine eligibility for payment from the reward fund. Information provided anonymously is not eligible for the reward, which is in effect for tips received up until Jan. 31.

Anyone knowing the individual or individuals involved, or who has information that would assist police in this investigation, is asked to contact the Prince Edward Island RCMP at 902 436 9300. Alternatively, an email can be sent to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and an investigator will respond.

Information may be provided anonymously to Crime Stoppers, an independent organization that offers eligible callers cash rewards to a maximum of $2,000 for tips leading to an arrest or charge. Information may be provided anonymously to Crime Stoppers by phone at 1 800 222 8477 (TIPS), via the web at www.peicrimestoppers.com, or by text by texting "TIP162" plus your message to (274637) CRIMES.

CHINA AWARDS WPC INTERNATIONAL ADVISOR

Prominent Canadian potato scientist and grower Peter VanderZaag has received a prestigious honour from the Chinese government.

At a special ceremony at Yunnan Normal University in Kunming, China, on Oct. 30, VanderZaag was given the National Friendship Award, the People's Republic of China's highest accolade for foreign experts who have made outstanding contributions to the country's economic and social progress.

VanderZaag has spent 29 years supporting food security efforts in China, initiating collaborative research work in China on behalf of the International Potato Center (CIP). He first went to China in 1985 to open an International Agricultural Research Center there, the first of its kind.

According to VanderZaag, at that time China was just opening the door to the outside world and Chinese scientists were eager to learn new technologies, evaluate new potato genetic material and were exceedingly responsive to all the educational programs offered by CIP.

Today, the country is now the world's largest potato producer with nearly 25 per cent of the annual global production. In accepting the award, VanderZaag praised the hard work and determination of his many Chinese colleagues in accomplishing the massive increase in potato production.

"China has an aggressive plan to improve its foo security situation. I commend you for the right priorities you have set. This makes it easier for someone like myself to come along side of you and work together to meet the challenges of the near and long-term future," he said.

Director Lu Xiaoping, of the CIP China Center for Asia and the Pacific, credited VanderZaag for his role in educating many of the potato scientists and leaders of today. "The impact of all his graduate students is truly amazing and will let his legacy live on," said Xiaoping. "We are deeply honoured to have Dr. Vander Zaag recognized for his tireless efforts in helping China strive towards food self-sufficiency." For more information, visit the World Potato Congress.

GOVERNMENT INVESTS TO IMPROVE VEGETABLE PRODUCE

The Canadian government has announced an investment of $411,627 to Quebec-based Productions en Régie Intégrée du Sud de Montréal (PRISME) to improve the quality and safety of vegetable produce. The investment will help PRISME better identify pests and evaluate produce resistance to fungicide to improve the productivity and profitability of vegetable farms.

The investment builds on previous support to one of PRISME's member associations, Compagnie de recherches Phytodata, of close to $1.2 million to conduct DNA-based monitoring studies for often "invisible" fungal diseases in potatoes, grapes, and greenhouse tomatoes.

"We are pleased to be working on the development of new tools that will enable Canadian producers to deal more effectively with two major horticultural problems ― crop damage caused by maggots and the development of fungicide resistance," says Pascal Guérin, PRISME chairman.. For more information, visit Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

INVESTMENT IN FOOD PROCESSING TECHNOLOGY

The Canadian government is investing $713,000 to Ontario-based Martin's Family Fruit Farm to adapt innovative processing equipment for the slicing and dehydration of fresh vegetables into chips. With this support, Martin's Family Fruit Farm will build on their expertise in producing dehydrated crispy apple chips to include vegetables.

The company will use its processing facility in Elmira, Ont., to develop and pilot test drying on four vegetable varieties, including sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots and tomatoes. The company will also design and install processing equipment for large-scale production.

"Martin's Family Fruit Farm is delighted to partner with the Government of Canada's AgriInnovation Program to research the dehydration of various vegetables into crispy chips. This research could help launch a new line of all natural, healthy snacks, expanding Martin's current product offering. The project is a timely support for the innovation required to maintain Martin's leadership in this new snack category," says Kevin Martin, president of Martin's Family Fruit Farm. Visit Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for more information.

U-BE-LIVIN-SMART RECEIVES INVESTMENT

U-Be-Livin-Smart, an Ontario-based health food processing company, has received an investment of $990,000 from the Canadian government for the purchase and installation of food processing equipment for the commercialization of the company's patented nutrient-dense muffins, vitamins and other related products. The project will help create jobs and increase demand for berries, apples, sweet potatoes, eggs and whey protein.

U-Be-Livin-Smart founded the Feed88M program: with every package of their product purchased, the company feeds one person at a local food bank with their nutrient dense products. To date, more than 500,000 people across North America have benefitted from the program, according to U-Be-Livin-Smart.

"We are committed to providing delicious, nutrient-dense foods and vitamins to busy families so they can eat smarter. This investment will help us to bring healthy, affordable foods to more Canadians." says Tim Sinclair, co-founder of U-Be-Livin-Smart. For more information, visit Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.


October 30th, 2014

SASK COMPANY HAS IDEA TO REVOLUTIONIZE PRODUCTION

A Saskatchewan company has more than a seed of an idea to radically change potato production. The secret is in a small fruit that grows on some potato plants. Inside the fruit are many tiny seeds, called true potato seeds that can grow potatoes.

"Most people are familiar with planting potatoes with a potato. They never thought to look for the small fruits that can be on plants," says Tuberosum Technologies Inc. president Joel VanderSchaaf. If successful, VanderSchaaf says producers will be able to use a 100 gram packet of seeds, where they would have had to use three tonnes of potatoes to plant a hectare of crop.

Some varieties of potato produce this fruit, which contains many tiny seeds that can be used to grow potatoes. Saving three tonnes worth of room, could save potato farmers a lot of money in storage and transportation costs, says VanderSchaaf. Also, potatoes used for seeding are perishable, whereas the tiny potato seed can be stored for years, and shipped overseas at hardly any cost.

The amount of seed produced by each plant is also a plus, according to VanderSchaaf. One potato plant usually produces about 10 potatoes, while one potato plant can produce 5,000 seeds.

VanderSchaaf says they have developed a few lines of seed that could be used commercially. Now, the biggest stumbling block is that there is no way to register the seeds, because the product is too new.

As such, VanderSchaaf says it's hard to say when the seeds will hit the market, but when they do, he says it could revolutionize the way farmers feed a hungry world. For more information visit CBC.

SIMPLOT POSTPONES IDAHO PLANT CLOSURE

The Simplot potato processing plant in Nampa, Idaho will again stay open longer than anticipated. The plant was first expected to close in April as Simplot consolidated operations to its new plant in Caldwell, Idaho. Unexpected high product demand has kept the plant open, says David Cuoio, a Simplot spokesman.

The plant was expected to close Oct. 31, but that date has been postponed again. The line one french fry processing line and packaging lines are expected to continue operating into November, Cuoio said. There's a possibility that an additional packaging area will run after the line is no longer in operation. A second processing line will continue to run through the rest of the calendar year, he said.

"Our Nampa plant employees have performed in a professional, admirable manner during these difficult months while the closing date of the plant has been uncertain," says Cuoio. "The Simplot family and the company's management team appreciate these efforts and wish our Nampa plant employees all the best, now and in the future." For more information visit Idaho Press.

BAYER SEED TREATMENT RECEIVES FURTHER APPROVALS

Bayer CropScience has established Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for Emesto Silver potato seed treatment in Japan, effective immediately. With this new MRL in place, Japan joins the list of major markets with established import tolerance for Emesto Silver. Governments set MRLs to establish safe amounts of pesticide residue that is permitted to remain on a commodity. The recent decision by Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare establishes MRLs for prothioconazole, one of the two active ingredients in Emesto Silver.

The MRL for penflufen, the other active ingredient, was established previously.

"We're excited for the newest Emesto Silver MRL because it gives growers who export to Japan another tool to manage seed and soil-borne diseases," says Dave Byrum, Bayer CropScience SeedGrowth senior product manager. "Emesto Silver promotes early plant establishment and acts as the first line of defense against tough diseases growers may face throughout the growing season."

Since its introduction in 2013, Emesto Silver potato seed treatment fungicide has been proven to help growers control diseases. Emesto Silver uses two modes of action to attack the toughest diseases, such as rhizoctonia, fusarium and helminthosporium silver scurf, while promoting early emergence, improving early vigour and fostering uniform stands. For more information visit Bayer CropScience.

AAFC OVERVIEW OF CANADIAN 2013 VEG INDUSTRY

The Horticulture and Cross Sectoral Division of the Sector Development and Analysis Directorate, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is pleased to present the next report on horticulture: "Statistical Overview of the Canadian Vegetable Industry ― 2013".

The report provides a comprehensive summary of the vegetable industry statistics. It contains tables and charts about Canadian vegetable production, revenues, consumption, retail sales, trade statistics as well as world production of vegetables. Some highlights from the report are:

  • Among the provinces, Ontario is the largest producer of field vegetables. It accounted for 59 per cent of Canada's total production, followed by Quebec with 32 per cent.
  • While Canada's total production of field vegetables decreased from 2012 (10 per cent), farm gate value grew by roughly $25 million to a five year high of $825 million in 2013 (a growth of three per cent from 2012).
  • Total Canadian vegetable (field vegetables, greenhouse vegetables and mushrooms) exports in 2013 amounted to $1.30 billion of which 96 per cent ($1.25 billion) were exported to the United States.
  • Canada imported $2.65 billion worth of vegetables in 2013, with $1.69 billion worth of product coming from the United States. Mexico was the second largest source of vegetables with $651 million in imports coming from there.

For more information visit Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.


October 16th, 2014

CANADA LOSES ACCESS TO U.S. PACA

Canada has lost preferred access to the United States Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) and the Canadian government will now need to implement a system demonstrating comparable outcomes in order to regain status. The CPMA maintains exporting produce to the U.S. has now become much riskier. Without access to PACA, Canadian companies will have a harder time going after unpaid bills, and less scrupulous U.S. buyers may attempt to benefit, it says.

This will have significant consequences for the fresh fruit and vegetable industry in Canada, putting jobs, Canadian farms and other parts of the produce supply chain at risk, and ultimately leading to higher produce prices for Canadian consumers, according to Ron Lemaire, president of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association.

"Without PACA access, Canadian companies trying to recover unpaid bills will have to post double the value of what they are trying to recover as bond to make a claim," says Lemaire. "For example, a small producer owed $50,000 would have to post $100,000 cash to make a claim, effectively removing $150,000 from their cash flow/operating line for up to one year. Many cannot afford this will simply have to walk away, losing what is rightfully owed to them."

Lemaire maintains it's not only producers who are affected, but also all the businesses connected to them. As a result, rural communities in particular will be hard hit.

"Canadian fruit and vegetable farmers have lost out on an important financial risk management tool. The Fresh Produce Alliance has repeatedly briefed and met with various Ministers and MPs to raise the importance of the issue," says Anne Fowlie, executive vice-president of the Canadian Horticultural Council. "Yet the government has not taken necessary mitigating action, despite warnings that the removal of PACA preferential Canadian access was imminent without confirmation of a Canadian solution. All this despite the fact that the there is a solution available at no cost to either the government of Canada or Canadian taxpayers." For more information visit the Canadian Produce Marketing Association.

POTATO QUALITY INSTITUTE PURCHASES NEW EQUIPMENT

The P.E.I. Potato Quality Institute has purchased a Q1Axcel System that will enable them to improve laboratory productivity of essential testing services for Island potato producers. The system is designed to test DNA or RNA fragments to determine if viruses are present in seed potatoes.

"The QIAxcel system will help to improve the turnaround time of PCR (polymerase chain reaction, a biochemical technology) results, in a timelier manner, so that the P.E.I. potato growers can meet potential export market requirements," says Patrick Quilty, operations manager at the P.E.I. Potato Quality Institute. The organization is one of five Canada Food Inspection Agency approved laboratories for meeting regulatory testing requirements, across the country. For more information visit The Guardian.

PARTNERS IN INNOVATION SUPPORT PBR AMENDMENTS

Partners in Innovation delivered a strong message of support for amendments to Canada's Plant Breeders' Rights (PBR) legislation when representatives met recently with the House of Commons Standing committee on Agriculture and Agri‐Food.

Coalition members represent producers and value chains in grains, oilseeds, pulse crops and fruits and vegetables in all provinces. They have joined together to support amendments to PBR as proposed in Bill C‐18, the Agricultural Growth Act.

David Jones of the Canadian Potato Council and the Canadian Horticultural Council spoke about the importance of PBR amendments to his industry and addressed the common misconceptions of the proposed amendments.

"Plant Breeders' Rights are not patents," Jones stated in a Partners in Innovation press release. "The legislation will not automatically implement end point royalties. Whether it is called a farmers' privilege or anything else, the important thing is that the ability for farmers to save, produce, reproduce and condition seed is entrenched in this legislation and cannot be taken away without a legislative change.

Jones added: "Public sector plant breeders will benefit from amended PBR [as] 48 per cent of the varieties protected by PBR are from public institutions. History shows that Plant Breeders' Rights have not accelerated seed price increases." For more information visit Partners in Innovation.

AUSTRALIA LAUNCHES POTATO TRACKER

Australian potato growers will soon have convenient access to consumption trends thanks to the Potato Tracker ― a recently launched market research project funded Horticulture Australia with matching funds from the Australian government that's designed to gain a better understanding of consumer habits.

"The reports are designed to give useful and serviceable knowledge and analysis to those associated with the potato industry, in a user-friendly, comprehensive format that is easy to understand," says Ausveg spokesman Andrew MacDonald. "The reports will provide broad findings on potato variety awareness, consumption trends, consumer expectations, triggers and barriers to purchase, and innovation trends on a global scale."

MacDonald said the project would mean growers would benefit by identifying target areas for development. He said it would also serve to expand industry knowledge of global innovation in the potato industry ― and thereby point to expansion opportunities.

"Australian growers have always shown a keen interest in new developments and taking advantage of potential growth areas within the market," he said. "It is hoped the Potato Tracker project will provide the industry with tangible analysis and trend evaluation, to allow Australian potato growers to continue to thrive." For more information visit The Land.

FIRST PHOSPHATE-FREE POTATO WASH AVAILABLE

Orgacure, a provider of sanitizing solutions for fresh produce, says it has developed the industry's first phosphate-free potato-wash for peeled and cut potatoes for use by European and North-American potato processors. Phosphate is used in agriculture as fertilizer or in detergents such as dishwasher tabs, and regulatory bodies such as the European Food Safety Authority strictly control its use in food applications.

After an extensive search for phosphate-free cleaning solution for potatoes, Orgacure concluded non-phosphorus based calcium derivates such as EFSA and U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved food-grade calcium chloride could be substituted for calcium salts of phosphoric acid, (better known as E341) in fresh potato processing. Orgacure's new phosphate solution is called Freshcut, and it's now available in numerous countries. Visit Orgacure for more information.

POTATOES ARE LARGEST, MOST AFFORDABLE SOURCE OF POTASSIUM

The U.S. Potato Board classifies potatoes as the largest and most affordable source of potassium of any vegetable or fruit. According to the USPB, potatoes also have the highest potassium content among the top 20 most frequently consumed vegetables and fruits.

"Although often overlooked, the importance of this mineral in our diets is quite significant," says Duane Maatz, executive director of the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association "Research suggests potassium aids in muscle contraction, including the heart, and assists with nerve stimulation." She adds potassium also helps maintain normal blood pressure.

"Studies show potatoes contain more potassium than other foods like bananas, oranges and mushrooms, which are typically known for their potassium content," says Maatz. "Unfortunately, very few Americans are getting adequate amounts of this electrolyte on a daily basis." For more information visit the U.S. Potato Board.

SPUD BAG MADE FROM POTATO STARCH

Wada Farms, a fresh potato packing facility in eastern Idaho will soon start shipping produce in a unique plastic sack made with up to 25 per cent potato starch. Wada Farms will be the exclusive marketer of the Tater Made sack for BiologiQ, the company that developed a more economical process for making plastic from plant starch, and it's now using the sack for its five-pound russet bags.

About half of potato waste water from processing factories in Idaho, Oregon and Washington is processed into starch, which has traditionally been used in products such as cardboard boxes, book bindings and glue.

BiologiQ uses that starch to make Eco Starch Resin pellets, which can be blended with traditional petroleum-based pellets to make plastic. The plant-derived pellets — which may also be made with some corn and cassava starch — also support microbes that break down plastics. Initial testing indicates that the Tater Made bag will biodegrade within one to three years in a landfill setting.

"Anybody making bags can use our pellets with existing equipment," says BiologiQ President Brad LaPray.

LaPray says he hopes Tater Made bags will eventually contain up to 60 percent plant starch, adding the company is also developing plastic agricultural mulch film containing potato starch. The product would decompose safely into the soil and allow producers to till it in rather than going to the trouble of removing it. LaPray says BiologiQ is "just beginning the process of going to the commercial market" for the film, which breaks down too rapidly for field use in its current formulation. For more information visit BiologiQ.


October 2nd, 2014

MCCAIN NAMES NEW CANADIAN PRESIDENT

McCain Foods Limited has named Shai Altman as its new Canadian president. Altman takes on the role Oct. 20. He brings to McCain more than 15 years of leadership experience in both mature and developing markets with expertise in the development and direction of growth strategies.

Altman joins McCain from Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, where he held increasingly senior cross functional roles since 1997. He started his career in sales, moved through key account management and customer marketing, and then went on to lead the consumer marketing team at Wrigley. Alman also worked as Wrigley's general manager in Israel and in India, and since 2009 he had held the position of president with Wrigley Canada.

Altman replaces former president Darryl Rowe, who stepped down last December. For more information, visit McCain Foods Limited.

http://www.mccain.ca/en

PVS MAY BREAK DOWN PHYTOPHTHORA RESISTANCE

Washington State University researchers have discovered that a common potato virus and a fungus-like pathogen can work together to damage the crop. In a study published in the American Journal of Potato Research, scientists found that potato virus S (PVS) breaks down late blight resistance in potato.

"The implications will impact potato breeding programs, as they must now take the virus into consideration during breeding for potato late blight resistance," says Hanu Pappu, the Sam Smith Distinguished Professor in plant pathology at WSU. Pappu teamed with WSU colleague Dennis Johnson, professor of plant pathology, and PhD student Yu-Hsuan Lin, now a post-doctoral fellow at Cornell University.

PVS is commonly found around the world and historically hasn't been a concern for growers in the United States. "Now it's demanding attention because of its role in making late blight disease more severe," Pappu says.

Lin developed an experimental system to test for the three-way interactions among potato, the late blight pathogen and PVS. She validated the interactions under controlled conditions, and this platform will be useful for screening additional potato genotypes. Lin says her research used only one late blight resistant variety of potato because it is the only commercially available variety that has both tuber and foliar resistance.

Pappu maintains further research is needed to see exactly how these pathogens collaborate at the molecular level and how the host's genetic mechanisms affect the pathogens. "This is much more complicated research," he says. "We normally study how a plant interacts with a single pathogen. Now we have to find how two very different pathogens interact with each other and the plant." For more information, visit SpringerLink.

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12230-014-9394-8

CHC OFFERS POTATO STORAGE MANAGEMENT TIPS

The Canadian Horticulture Council has released a new fact sheet on controlling potato storage conditions for the management of post-harvest losses due to diseases.

"Harvested potato tubers are living organisms and hence interact with the surrounding environment," according to the CHC's fact sheet. "To maintain potato quality during storage, the storage environment must be adjusted to minimize tuber deterioration. Temperature, humidity and air movement can always affect the keeping quality of stored potatoes."

The fact sheet notes that "potatoes should always be kept in complete darkness to prevent greening. When potatoes are not properly stored, tuber losses due to fungal and bacterial infections can be high. To prevent this, storage conditions should be properly controlled depending on the type of potatoes stored." To read the entire fact sheet, go the Canadian Horticulture Council website.

http://www.hortcouncil.ca/uploads/file/English/Canadian%20Potato%20Council/Potato_Storage_Management_Fact_Sheet_English_Final.pdf

NEW EUROPATAT SECRETARY GENERAL

The board of Europatat, the European Potato Trade Association, has announced the appointment of Raquel Izquierdo de Santiago as the new secretary general of the association. She succeeds Frédéric Rosseneu, who held the position at Europatat for the last four years.

According to Europatat, Izquierdo de Santiago has extensive experience in European affairs. He has served as the Food Law, Nutrition and Health director at Freshfel (the European Fresh Produce Association) as well as the deputy secretary general for the World Apple and Pear Association. For further information, visit Europatat.

http://www.europatat.eu/documents/20140929_-_New_Europatat_secretary_general.pdf


September 18th, 2014

NEW SWEET POTATO VARIETIES ENTER CANADIAN TRIALS

A Canadian research group is developing sweet potato varieties better suited for Canadian growers.

The new varieties from Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, based in Vineland Station, Ont., are adapted to Canada's shorter growing season and climate. Now in its third year working on new sweet potato varieties, the centre is presently doing farm trials in Ontario and the Maritimes.

"So far we've screened over 2,500 sweet potato seeds, some of them acquired from our Louisiana State University collaborators, for several traits including flesh color, days to maturity, dry matter content and sugar content," says Valerio Primomo, research scientist with Vineland Research and Innovation Centre.

The centre is evaluating 15 of its top-performing varieties in the trials, says Primomo. For more information visit the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre.

REPORT OUTLINES TRADE ACCESS AS CRITICAL TO INDUSTRY

A report published by the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI) states that Canada's agri-food sector is competing in an increasingly complex trade world where significant export success depends on the timely negotiation of preferential trade access and achieving new ways to reach consumers in foreign markets. The discussion paper was co-authored by John Weekes, Al Mussell and David McInnes.

"Countries are competing with each other to be the first to secure free or at least preferential access to the world's major markets," states the report's authors. Two examples make the point. The bilateral agreement between the United States and South Korea has been costly for Canada, which has not secured such a deal. On the other hand, Canada and the European Union have advanced an agreement well before any such EU-US arrangement.

The paper portrays how these situations are conferring distinct comparative trade advantages (the Canada-EU case) and disadvantages (the US-South Korea deal) and how this affects export strategies. "In this environment of competitive trade liberalization," state the authors, "firms need to consider the most cost effective way of reaching consumers in foreign markets."

Opportunities abound for Canada's agri-food sector in this new trade world, but the paper advances the idea that "trade barrier audits" are required to assess the breadth of issues facing current and prospective exporters and the marketing hurdles. The paper notes that trade agreements, while important, are only one part of a series of integrated steps that must be taken to achieve export success. Firms must also overcome often-restrictive non-tariff barriers, other regulatory requirements and stiffening supply chain standards as well as fully comprehending diverse consumer market niches to achieve immediate and longer-term success. For more information visit the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute.

POTASSIUM RICH FOODS CUT HEALTH RISKS IN OLDER WOMEN

Postmenopausal women who eat foods higher in potassium are less likely to have strokes and die than women who eat less potassium-rich foods, according to new research in the American Heart Association's journal Stroke.

"Previous studies have shown that potassium consumption may lower blood pressure. But whether potassium intake could prevent stroke or death wasn't clear," says Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, study senior author and distinguished university professor emerita, department of epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

"Our findings give women another reason to eat their fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of potassium, and potassium not only lowers postmenopausal women's risk of stroke, but also death."

Researchers studied 90,137 postmenopausal women, ages 50 to 79, for an average 11 years. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that women eat at least 4,700 mg of potassium daily. "Only 2.8 per cent of women in our study met or exceeded this level. The World Health Organization's daily potassium recommendation for women is lower, at 3,510 mg or more. Still, only 16.6 per cent of women we studied met or exceeded that," says Wassertheil-Smoller. "Our findings suggest that women need to eat more potassium-rich foods. You won't find high potassium in junk food. Some foods high in potassium include white and sweet potatoes, bananas and white beans."

While increasing potassium intake is probably a good idea for most older women, there are some people who have too much potassium in their blood, which can be dangerous to the heart. "People should check with their doctor about how much potassium they should eat," she said.

The study was observational and included only postmenopausal women. Researchers also did not take sodium intake into consideration, so the potential importance of a balance between sodium and potassium is not among the findings. Researchers said more studies are needed to determine whether potassium has the same effects on men and younger people. For more information visit the American Heart Association.

20/20 GLOBAL INKS $10 MILLION POTATO AND ONION CONTRACT

20/20 Global, a Nevada-based corporation that provides services for the wholesale fresh produce industry has signed potato and onion contracts with one of the largest food service companies in North America. The potato contract is for 12 months totaling 780,000 cases or approximately 39-million pounds of Idaho potatoes, while the onion contract is for eight months totaling 260,000 cases or just over 11-million pounds of yellow and red onions.

"The contracts are subject to market pricing but similar contracts last year were worth approximately $10 million and we expect these contracts to be somewhat similar," says Global COO Mark Williams.

Global's growing partners use cutting edge technology that includes drip irrigation, in-house forced air drying, automated packing lines and palletization and advanced sizing and grading equipment. All loads are federal and state inspected and graded to meet strict specifications.

For more information visit Business Wire.

SPUD SMART MAGAZINE TO DEBUT 2015 BUYER'S GUIDE

Produced by Spud Smart magazine, trusted voice of the Canadian potato industry since 1994, the Spud Smart 2015 Buyer's Guide is designed to inform potato growers and processors across Canada about products and services related to potato growing and processing.

The Buyer's Guide will be the No. 1 requested source for potato growers and processors across Canada and will connect them with suppliers of chemicals, equipment, irrigation, seed and much more.

Working in partnership with provincial potato associations from across Canada ensures that the Buyer's Guide will reach the most qualified audience of buyers in the Canadian potato industry.

For more information visit Spudsmart.com.


September 4th, 2014

AGRICO ACQUIRES MAJORITY STAKE IN PARKLAND

The Dutch potato co-operative Agrico has purchased more shares in its joint investment of Parkland Seed Potatoes Ltd., granting it a majority stake in the Edmonton-based seed potato company. Agrico started to work together with Parkland Seed Potatoes in 1997.

In 2005 Agrico bought 25 per cent of Parkland shares and increased its share holdings to 49 per cent in 2008. The Dutch co-operative says the company's growth strategy and the opportunities it sees in North America have spurred Agrico to acquire a majority stake by increasing its Parkland share holdings by an additional 21 per cent.

Parkland Seed Potatoes Ltd was established in 1997 with a 100 per cent focus on selling seed potatoes grown by its affiliated growers in Canada. Besides a large cultivation area in Canada, Parkland now also has growers in the United States.

"I am delighted with our new majority share in Parkland. North America offers us promising opportunities for systematically generating more income for our co-operative," says Jan van Hoogen, Agrico general director. "Our co-operation with this strong partner will enable us to benefit from those opportunities even more in the near future." For more information visit Agrico.

RUSSIA LIFTS BAN ON SEED POTATOES

Russia has removed seed potatoes from the list of foods banned from import into Russia, according to a recent government decree signed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

This comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an earlier decree banning or limiting for a period of one year the import to Russia of farm produce, raw ingredients and foodstuffs from countries that have imposed sanctions against Russia.

The embargo applies to entire categories of food from the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia and Norway, and includes beef, pork, fruit and vegetables, poultry, fish, cheese, milk and dairy products. For more information visit Russia Beyond the Headlines.

NEW INSECTICIDE APPROVED FOR FRUIT AND VEGETABLE CROPS

Bayer CropScience has announced that Maximum Residue Limits for flubendiamide, the active ingredient in the company's Belt insecticide, have been established in Canada, effective immediately.

With this new MRL in place, Canada joins the list of major markets with established import tolerances for Belt, including the European Union and Japan.

"The new Canadian MRLs for Belt are very exciting for fruit and vegetable growers," says Lee Hall, insecticide product manager for Bayer CropScience. "With this registration, growers exporting to Canada are now equipped with an additional tool to protect their valuable crops from costly worm damage, increasing yield and profit potential."

According to the company, Belt is labelled in more than 210 crops and provides growers a powerful and reliable management tool against worm pests in vegetables, pome and stone fruits, tree nuts, grapes and a variety of other crops. Belt stops worms from feeding within minutes after application and depending on use rate and crop provides residual activity that can last two weeks or more.

Bayer CropScience maintains Belt is an excellent Integrated Pest Management tool that has minimal impact on beneficial insects and is not cross resistant to other classes of chemistry. Once dry on leaf surfaces, Belt is rainfast, providing enhanced, long-lasting protection. Belt also offers short re-entry and pre-harvest intervals, providing growers with greater flexibility in their approach to pest management throughout the season. For further information visit Bayer CropScience.

NEW STUDY PREDICTS A RISE IN PESTS ON BRITAIN'S FARMS

Researchers predicting a rise in pests that could cause vast bread and potato shortages say the United Kingdom is particularly vunerable. The researchers at England's University of Exeter maintain the U.K. has "significantly underestimated" the risk that crop pests pose to potatoes, wheat and other crops.

The study forecasts that factors including climate change, inadequate biosecurity measures and other new variants will help pests spread in the next three decades.

"The U.K has significantly underestimated the scale of the threat. This is a huge problem that is lacking in public and political awareness," says professor Sarah Gurr of the University of Exeter and Rothamsted Research. "People are absolutely paralyzed with fear of diseases like Ebola, but while they are extremely dangerous, the need to tackle crop diseases is just as pressing. We are not spending enough on research, on training, on surveillance and on biosecurity. Unless we significantly step up our efforts, we could be forced to change our diets in the future as crops come and go."

Gurr added that if pests go on to spread at their current rate, then a large proportion of the world's biggest food-producing countries will be inundated with pests. For more information visit The Daily Mail.

SIMPLOT DELAYS CLOSING PROCESSING PLANTS

The J.R. Simplot Company has delayed the closure of two potato processing plants in Idaho.

Simplot spokesman David Cuoio says that layoffs at the Aberdeen plant in southeastern Idaho are expected to take place sometime in September, and the Nampa plant will likely close Oct. 31.

The company initially planned to close both plants this spring, but decided to keep them open longer after getting more customer orders than expected.

Another J.R. Simplot plant has already been demolished in Caldwell, Idaho. A new plant has been built in Caldwell to replace the demolished plant as well as the Nampa and Aberdeen plants. The new plant will be staffed by about 300 workers, with a net loss of about 750 employees among the three plants. For more information visit the Idaho Statesman.http://www.idahostatesman.com/

SPUD SMART MAGAZINE TO DEBUT 2015 BUYER'S GUIDE

Produced by Spud Smart magazine, trusted voice of the Canadian potato industry since 1994, the Spud Smart 2015 Buyer's Guide is designed to inform potato growers and processors across Canada about products and services related to potato growing and processing.

The Buyer's Guide will be the No. 1 requested source for potato growers and processors across Canada and will connect them with suppliers of chemicals, equipment, irrigation, seed and much more.

Working in partnership with provincial potato associations from across Canada ensures that the Buyer's Guide will reach the most qualified audience of buyers in the Canadian potato industry.

For more information visit Spudsmart.com.


August 21st, 2014

 

POTATO WART FOUND IN P.E.I. FIELD

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed a case of potato wart in a Prince Edward Island field. According to the CFIA, the field has been placed under quarantine, with the full co-operation of the grower, to prevent the risk of spreading the fungus. The agency has not indicated where the farm is located.

Potato wart poses no risk to humans or food safety, but it can be a serious disease for the infected potatoes, which become disfigured. It also prevents tuber production and can affect export markets.

The CFIA indicated it is sampling material from the field affected to determine the extent of the infestation. Staff are also tracking movement on and off the farm to see if any other fields have been infected.

Potato wart was last found in P.E.I. two years ago. The soil-borne fungus shut down trade between P.E.I. and the United States when it was first found on the Island, 14 years ago. Since then new protocols for monitoring and controlling the spread of potato wart have been introduced. For more information visit CBC News.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/

VINELAND RESEARCH RECEIVES $1.1 MILLION INVESTMENT

The Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Vineland, Ont. will receive more than $1.1 million to help producers tap into the growing market for world crops. The funding will go towards research aimed at increasing seasonal field production of oriental long eggplants and okra, evaluating the use of greenhouse technologies, and developing sweet potato varieties adapted to Canadian conditions.

With an evolving consumer base in Canada and the U.S., it is hoped this project will help boost domestic production of exotic vegetables, leading to new opportunities for the horticultural sector.

"We thank our federal government partners for their continued confidence in Vineland. This financial support enhances our research on sweet potatoes and world crops and supports impactful results for the industry," says Jim Brandle, CEO of Vineland Research and Innovation Centre.

The investment is made through the federal industry-led research and development stream of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's AgriInnovation Program, a five-year, up to $698-million initiative under Growing Forward 2. For more information visit Vineland Research and Innovation Centre.

http://www.vinelandresearch.com/Default.asp?id=1&l=1

POST-HARVEST FUNGICIDE HELPS TUBERS STAY HEALTHY IN STORAGE

Syngenta Canada Inc. has introduced Stadium post-harvest fungicide, a new quality preservation tool for potatoes during storage. When used as part of a full-season, integrated disease prevention program, Stadium helps prevent the spread of two devastating storage diseases, silver scurf and fusarium dry rot.

"Crop loss during storage can be severe," says Eric Phillips, fungicides and insecticides product lead with Syngenta Canada. "Stadium helps preserve tuber quality after harvest by controlling the spread of economically significant storage diseases."

While storage diseases are not curable, limiting the spread of infection from diseased to healthy tubers can control pathogens. According to the Syngenta, Stadium is unique in that it is powered by three active ingredients: fludioxonil (Group 12), azoxystrobin (Group 11) and difenoconazole (Group 3) for the control of fusarium and suppression of silver scurf.

Fusarium is a seed- and soil-borne fungus that can spread rapidly in storage. Fusarium dry rot occurs in newly harvested tubers when they are wounded and come into contact with the fungus. The disease enters the tuber at the injury point and, if left untreated, can cause excessive rotting of the tuber tissue.

Silver scurf is both seed- and soil-borne, with seed-borne silver scurf being more prevalent. Seed-borne silver scurf can spread in a manner similar to fusarium – through contaminated soil, equipment and debris.

Appropriate storage conditions are an important part of disease management. In their absence, poor storage conditions can encourage disease to spread from infected to healthy tubers and tuber quality may be compromised due to skin blemishes and excessive shrinkage caused by water loss.

Maximum Residue Limits in potato products for export to a number of countries outside of North America have been established for the active ingredients in Stadium; however, they are not harmonized with North American levels. Prior to application, growers are advised to check with their potato buyer regarding Stadium use. It should also be noted that Stadium is not registered for use on seed potatoes. For more information visit Syngenta Canada.

http://www.syngentafarm.ca

J.R. SIMPLOT EXPECTS USDA APPROVAL OF GM POTATO

J.R. Simplot Co. expects the United States Department of Agriculture to approve its new genetically enhanced Innate potato in the next 30 to 60 days and the company will begin test marketing the spud this winter. Kerwin Bradley, director of commercialization at J.R. Simplot, recently spoke at a Potato Association of America meeting, stating "the company has a few hundred acres of Innate potatoes growing across the United States and Canada. Those potatoes will go into storage and then be sold into test markets over the winter." Volumes will expand for the 2015 crop, he said.

Simplot's Innate program uses only genes from potatoes. According to Bradley, genes from wild and cultivated potatoes have been used to improve the "workhorse" varieties of potatoes in the industry, including Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet, Atlantic and Snowden.

The first generation of Innate potatoes has a silenced enzyme so they do not turn brown when cut and have less black spot bruising. They also have less of the amino acid that creates acrylamide, a chemical that may be linked to cancer when cooked. The overall acrylamide reduction is 50-80 per cent, said Bradley.

Innate potatoes will be largely marketed into the fresh market for the next few years. The company will also market pre-cut Innate potatoes, which have a shelf life of up to 14 days and should garner much attention from the food service industry, Bradley said.

"For restaurants and other service operators who want the convenience, but also want a fresh potato, this solves it," he said. "Why would you ever cut a potato in the back of a restaurant if you could have somebody cut it for you? This could be a game-changer for the industry."

The second generation of Innate potatoes will also have late blight resistance, expanded storage and reduced sugar-related defects. There will also be some use of Innate potatoes in processed, frozen, dehydrated and potato chip production, Bradley said.

Following the anticipated approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, Simplot expects approval from Japan and Canada for Innate potatoes in 2015, Bradley said. As soon as Simplot has USDA approval, it can file for approval in Mexico, and South Korea would follow, he said. For more information visit the Capital Press.

http://www.capitalpress.com

SCIENTISTS BREED BLUE AND PINK POTATOES

Shoppers in Belarus may soon be tempted by new breeds of potato with blue and pink flesh. It's part of a national effort by Belarusian scientists to develop new kinds of spuds with non-traditional colours.

"There'll be blue, pink and purple potatoes that will taste as good as the more common white-yellow ones," says Ivan Kalyadka, who heads the Research Centre for Potato Cultivation and Horticulture at the Belarusian Academy of Sciences. Now that the nine-year breeding process is complete, the new kinds of potato are currently undergoing state testing. After that they'll be given the green light for full-scale cultivation, the report says. For more information visit BBC News.

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-28740178

SPUD SMART MAGAZINE TO DEBUT 2015 BUYER'S GUIDE

Produced by Spud Smart magazine, trusted voice of the Canadian potato industry since 1994, the Spud Smart 2015 Buyer's Guide is designed to inform potato growers and processors across Canada about products and services related to potato growing and processing.

The Buyer's Guide will be the No. 1 requested source for potato growers and processors across Canada and will connect them with suppliers of chemicals, equipment, irrigation, seed and much more.

Working in partnership with provincial potato associations from across Canada ensures that the Buyer's Guide will reach the most qualified audience of buyers in the Canadian potato industry. For more information visit Spudsmart.com.

http://www.spudsmart.com/buyersguide/


August 7th, 2014

MCCAIN PLANT CLOSURE IN P.E.I.

The Prince Edward Island potato industry is reeling from the announcement that McCain Foods will close its Borden-Carleton French fry facility as of Oct. 31, 2014. According to the P.E.I. Potato Board, many Island farm families have worked hard to deliver high quality potatoes to McCain Foods over the years, and growing for McCain was a major component of their farming operations.

McCain has been an important player in the P.E.I. potato industry for several decades, as it contracted with Island growers for delivery to processing plants in New Brunswick long before it invested directly by building a plant in Borden-Carleton in 1990. As well, McCain has purchased Island tablestock and seed potatoes for markets in Canada and around the world. There is no indication that those purchases will be affected by the McCain plant closure announcement on Aug. 7.

"We were shocked and disappointed by the news from McCain earlier today," said PEI Potato Board Chairman Gary Linkletter on Aug. 7. "As is the situation in several parts of North America, contract volumes at McCain's PEI plant were reduced over the past few years. We understand that global french fry demand has increased significantly during 2014, and we had hoped that McCain would use the excess processing capacity in Borden to supply some of that expanded demand. Instead, we're now dealing with the loss of the plant."

Representatives from the P.E.I. Potato Board met with senior McCain officials on several occasions over the past few years to seek ways of stabilizing and increasing the volume of potatoes processed in Borden-Carleton. The board had also discussed the situation with senior government officials.

"Our growers are competitive and were consistently able to meet the quality specifications that McCain sought. However, McCain is a global company and running the plant at less than half its capacity means additional costs on the finished product. That in itself impacts pricing and markets for the product.   We would have liked to see the volume return to original levels to address this," said Linkletter.

In 2014, McCain contracted with 23 Island family farms for delivery of over $7 million worth of potatoes to the Borden-Carleton plant. McCain representatives have confirmed that they will honour the contracts they've signed with growers for 2014, but plans for beyond 2014 are not known at this point.

Linkletter concluded, "Given today's announcement, we're concerned for the growers who contracted with McCain in 2014, the McCain and employees and their families, and the support industries involved with the McCain plant. We have had some discussions with provincial and federal government representatives today, and we'll sit down with them shortly to discuss options for finding other markets, including reverting to delivering potatoes to McCain facilities in New Brunswick for processing in 2015 and beyond.  We'd also like to identify a means of keeping the plant operating in some manner."

http://www.peipotato.org

SPUD SMART MAGAZINE TO DEBUT 2015 BUYER'S GUIDE

Produced by Spud Smart magazine, trusted voice of the Canadian potato industry since 1994, the Spud Smart 2015 Buyer's Guide is designed to inform potato growers and processors across Canada about products and services related to potato growing and processing.

The Buyer's Guide will be the No. 1 requested source for potato growers and processors across Canada and will connect them with suppliers of chemicals, equipment, irrigation, seed and much more.

Working in partnership with provincial potato associations from across Canada ensures that the Buyer's Guide will reach the most qualified audience of buyers in the Canadian potato industry. View the Buyer's Guide Info here.

VANDERZAAG JOINS WPC

World Potato Congress Inc. has announced the appointment of Peter VanderZaag, president of Alliston, Ontario's Sunrise Potato Storage Ltd., to the organization's international advisory committee. VanderZaag will track and report on potato-related issues throughout East Asia and China, as well as offer advice to the WPC regarding programs and initiatives of the Congress.

David Thompson, WPC president and CEO, says VanderZaag brings extensive and valuable experience to the committee. "World Potato Congress Inc. consults, on an ongoing basis, with the committee," says Thompson. "I know that Peter's contribution will be appreciated by both the Congress and the region that he represents."

The WPC maintains VanderZaag's academic, business and agricultural background make him an ideal candidate for the position, adding his ability to work collaboratively with others is recognized and appreciated by his peers across the globe. For more information visit World Potato Congress Inc.

NEW CHIPPING POTATO VARIETY OFFERS NO BROWNING

A new chipping potato variety should be more marketable because it averts a process that causes tubers to brown, and may be less oily than current potatoes, a University of Florida researcher says.

The Elkton potato does not succumb to internal heat necrosis, says Lincoln Zotarelli, a U of F assistant horticultural sciences professor and faculty member at the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Scientists from the Uof F, IFAS and U.S. Department of Agriculture put Elkton potatoes through 19 trials in Florida from 2003-2013. Numerous trials were also conducted in Maine, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Maryland and Pennsylvania. The trials tested Elkton's adaptability to soils in the those states and showed the variety exhibits characteristics growers want, says Kathleen Haynes, a research geneticist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Maryland.

The Atlantic is the standard potato chipping variety against which new types are tested in Florida. By those measures, Elkton has better yield, producing more potatoes per acre – almost 16,700 kilograms, or 13 per cent more than Atlantic. For more information visit the American Journal of Potato Research.

RESEARCHING POTATO GENES THAT BEST ADAPT TO CLIMATE CHANGE

Neiker-Tecnalia, a research institute for agricultural R&D based in Spain is currently looking for potato genes that best adapt to the anticipated climate change conditions, characterized by a reduction in rainfall and increased extremes of hot and cold temperatures.·

The aim is to identify the most resistant genes in order to create new potato varieties that will adapt optimally to future climate conditions. The research is also seeking to find out how the current potato varieties will behave in a situation of greater drought and higher and lower temperatures.

This research is part of the PAPACLIMA project being developed by an international consortium made up of Neiker-Tecnalia and research and development centres and universities in Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Costa Rica. This group is looking for new, more resistant potato varieties as it is a crop that is highly susceptible to climate change and is a staple food for millions of people worldwide.

Commercial varieties, native potatoes from South America, old varieties from the Canary Islands and wild species are being researched as part of the project. NEIKER-Tecnalia has evaluated how all these varieties behave with respect to drought and high and low temperatures through field trials as well as under controlled conditions in greenhouses. In all these trials, identical potatoes were sown in order to compare their production under different environmental conditions. The parameters analyzed included output, chlorophyll and water content.

NEIKER-Tecnalia technicians gathered genetic information on the varieties as each was subjected to adverse conditions of drought, cold and heat. This enabled researchers to observe which genes are being expressed when the plant is under a specific stress. Identifying these genes is believed to be an essential first step towards developing new varieties that will adapt to future climate conditions. It also constitutes essential information to find out how the current varieties will behave when faced with the effects of climate change. For more information visit Neiker Tecnalia.

PUTTING DESIGNER POTATOES ON THE MENU

A decline in overall potato consumption by Americans has Texas A&M AgriLife Research breeders working on "designer" spuds that meet the time constraints and unique tastes of a younger generation.

"So what we are doing now is developing unique varieties that have a tendency to appeal to the younger set with high income who are willing to try something different," says AgriLife Research potato breeder Creighton Miller. "This has contributed to an increase in consumption of these types over the russets, which are still the standard."

Miller says the objective of the Texas A&M potato breeding program is to develop improved varieties adapted specifically to environmental conditions in Texas. "However, some of our varieties are widely adapted across the U.S.," he adds. "Three of them collectively represent the fifth largest number of acres certified for seed production in the U.S., so we've released some successful varieties, and we are developing more all the time."

Other varieties catching more attention are red potatoes with yellow and white flesh and the purple skinned potatoes with yellow flesh. The tubers with yellow flesh contain compounds that are antioxidants, and that appeals to the health-conscious consumer, Miller says. "So in addition to having the unique appearance, they are healthier potatoes to eat."

Also this year, the program offers specialty potatoes with splashes of red and yellow on the skin that have a yellow flesh. "These are referred to as gourmet potatoes and that niche is receiving more emphasis lately," Miller says. "These are generally boiled and add unique color to the plate when served."

Miller points out the russet potato is still the primary emphasis of the program, adding a new russet will soon be released for commercial production. "It promises to be very successful," he says. For more information visit Texas A&M Agrilife.

 


July 24th, 2014

 

U OF L TO ESTABLISH A CHAIR IN POTATO SCIENCE

Research capacity in Alberta's potato industry will be significantly enhanced due to a $1 million investment in the University of Lethbridge by a consortium of association and industry partners.

The U of L will receive the funds over five years from the Potato Growers of Alberta, McCain Foods, ConAgra Lamb Weston and Cavendish Farms to establish a chair in potato science.

"Growers and processors identified a need to expand research in this critical field," says Terence Hochstein, the PGA's executive director. "There are only a handful of researchers dedicated to the discipline throughout Western Canada, and we expect this new chair will greatly enhance and complement the current capacity that exists."

The university will immediately begin its search for a scientist with demonstrated experience in the potato industry. As well, the U of L will be seeking a researcher who is able to collaborate with producers and industry partners.

In addition to building research capacity, Hochstein hopes that U of L graduate and undergraduate students benefit from the Chair and that future capacity is created for the industry.

"One of the consortium's long-term aspirations is that through student research activities and related interactions, more agriculturally-focused students will consider a career in the potato industry," says Hochstein. "While the potato industry is big business in Alberta, family farms continue to be a significant contributor to both seed and consumption potatoes."

Lesley Brown, acting vice-president of research, says existing research strengths at the U of L will enhance the work performed by the new chair.

"The work done by this new chair will complement existing U of L agricultural research strengths like water, epigenetics and remote sensing," says Brown. "The U of L has a history of successful interdisciplinary projects and this new expertise will not only expand capacity for potato research, but will inform many other important areas as well." For more information visit the University of Lethbridge.

WPC APPOINTS THREE NEW DIRECTORS

David Thompson, president and CEO of World Potato Congress Inc. has appointed Ron Gall, New Zealand; Nora Olsen, U.S.; and Anne Fowlie, Canada as members of the board of directors of WPC. The three eminent individuals are recognized worldwide for their contributions to the development and growth of the global potato industry.

Ron Gall was a business manager with Horticulture New Zealand for over 20 years until his retirement in 2012, where he focused on four core activities including seed certification, export access to new markets and growing existing markets, research and development, and educating about and promoting the nutritional health value of potatoes.

Nora Olsen is a professor and extension potato specialist at the University of Idaho located at Twin Falls. Her research and extension programs have focused on potato field and storage management, sprout and disease control in storage, seed physiology and performance, cultivar evaluation, and food and farm safety. She has been the program director for the University of Idaho Kimberly Potato Storage Research Facility since 2003. Olsen is currently serving as president of the Potato Association of America.

Anne Fowlie is executive vice president of the Canadian Horticultural Council in Ottawa. Throughout her career she has been involved in a myriad of agricultural sector issues, including sales and marketing, organizational and sector strategic planning, trade dispute resolution, food safety and traceability and government relations. Fowlie has also participated in Team Canada trade missions and was a member of the Canadian industry delegation to the 2005 World Trade Organization negotiations in Hong Kong. For more information visit World Potato Congress Inc.

RUSSET HOUSE TO LAUNCH ORGANIC WHITE FRIES THIS FALL

Demand for organic foods in both retail and food service continues to soar, compelling Russet House — the third largest sweet potato processor in North America — to announce their launch of organic white fries in early fall of 2014.

This comes as a result of the success of the company's organic sweet potato fries, which were introduced just four months ago. The organic line is the most successful product launch in the history of the company.

The new organic white fry line will consist of straight-cut skin-on, crinkle cut, slender skin-on and red skin breakfast potatoes. The entire line is organic and gluten-free. The organic potatoes are all sourced from local farmers in North America. For more information visit Russet Housewww.russethouse.com

SCIENTISTS DEVELOP POTATO DRINK

Belarusian scientists have named their fragrant sweet potato drink Mikola. According to the scientists, there is nothing like it in the world market.

"[The] potatoes are boiled under pressure. They turn into a semi-liquid mass similar to mashed potatoes, but a little more liquid. The resulting mass is clarified, and then it is evaporated and concentrated," explains Olga Koloskova, researcher for the Scientific and Practical Center at the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus for Foodstuffs.

"This is the most difficult step of preparing the potato drink," adds Koloskova. "Further, the base is mixed with sugar syrup, citric acid and carbon dioxide for the sparkling effect."

Besides the original version, this sweet potato drink also offers special flavours including echinacea, thyme and hyssop. The potato drink contains only natural ingredients. For more information visit National State TV and Radio Company of the Republic of Belarus.



July 10th, 2014

N.B. GOVERNMENT OFFERS POTATO RESEARCH SUPPORT

The provincial government of New Brunswick is investing $5 million in a research and development project at McCain Foods Canada which will see the company work with small and medium-sized businesses and researchers from New Brunswick to pursue process improvement, product development and soil remediation initiatives.

"We are pleased to partner with McCain Foods as they create new opportunities for our economy through research and development projects which will have an impact all the way across their production chain, from our local farms to the grocery shelves," says N.B. Premier David Alward.

McCain is providing $5 million in matching funds for the five-year project, which will focus on process improvements such as ways to reduce waste through technological means, as well as soil remediation and agrological analytics using drone technology.

"We are delighted to partner with the province on this very important initiative and are pleased that the research and innovation will be done here in New Brunswick and will have far-reaching benefits," says Allison McCain, company chair. "We will be partnering with a number of other New Brunswick companies to achieve our objectives and our agricultural work will help all farmers."

The project will be led by McCain Foods in close collaboration with the Research and Productivity Council, the University of New Brunswick, Stantec, Motion Fab/Apex Industries, Eigen Innovation, Solanum Genomics, Envirem Organics, Resson Aerospace, ADM Systems, Hyton Innovation, and the N.B. Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries. For more information visit the New Brunswick government.

DNA TESTING TO AVOID DISEASE IN POTATO CROPS

A diagnostic system that tests for six soil-borne pathogens that threaten potato crops has recently won an Australian horticulture award, and scientists at the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) are already looking to adapt it for other high-value vegetables. Since launching commercially last year in Australia, PreDicta Pt ― the SARDI soil testing service for the potato industry ― has received widespread support from growers, processors and agronomists across the country.

Potatoes are particularly susceptible to soil-borne disease that can damage their appearance or reduce yield, and field losses are estimated at around $80 million a year across Australia. PreDicta Pt is touted as a cost-effective way for potato growers to manage disease and make informed decisions prior to planting.

The system has attracted interest from the United States, Europe and China, and its successful application to a much higher value and higher risk crop such as potatoes further underlines its potential.

"Potatoes are a big investment and you don't want to get it wrong," says SARDI sustainable systems research chief Kathy Ophel Keller. "Based on what our test tells them farmers may choose to plant different parts of their land differently and to ignore some completely. If they lease land, it may help them choose between options. The next step is to test seed pieces as well so you can match clean seed with clean ground. The last thing you want to do is put dirty seed into clean ground. That's a real issue with a crop like potatoes." For more information visit The Lead – South Australia.

INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION TO PROTECT CROPS

Experts from the United Kingdom and India are working together to identify and develop novel environmentally sustainable strategies to control plant pests, known as plant-parasitic nematodes or eelworms, to ensure global food production and security. The project is funded by the U.K.-India Education and Research Initiative.

Plant-parasitic nematodes are thought to cause annual losses to crops in the region of $77 to $100 billion globally. They are an important constraint on crop production by reducing the effective uptake of water and nutrients by the plant's root system. Since the middle of the 20th century, these crop pests have been controlled through the use of synthetic pesticides. Because legislation restricts their use in many parts of the world due toxicity concerns, researchers are looking for more environmentally sustainable methods of control.

"Both India and the U.K. have a problem with potato cyst nematodes which has a serious impact on the potato crops each year. This project is to develop natural solutions to control these pests on this important staple crop," explains Keith Davies, senior lecturer in applied nematology at the University of Hertfordshire. "We need natural control methods which do not have the detrimental effect on the environment that the synthetic pesticides have. India also has serious nematode problems on other major crops including rice, wheat and pigeon pea ― so the project will also look at natural solutions to control these crop pests."

The collaboration brings together expertise in this area of crop protection and food security from the University of Hertfordshire, the Indian Agricultural Research Institute and Rothamsted Research.

The research team will be investigating the use of a bacterium from the Pasteuria group, which produces spores and is a parasite of several invertebrate animals that live within soil. The spores lie dormant in the soil and adhere to and then infect the nematodes as they make their way towards the plant roots.

"We know from previous research that when infected, the nematode's ability to reproduce is affected and, in some species of pest nematode, they are prohibited from reproducing. This effect on nematodes has been associated with nematode suppressive soils," says Davies.

The project aims to understand how Pasteuria penetrans bacterial parasites attach themselves to the nematode's outer skin known as its cuticle. By investigating these molecular interactions between plant-parasitic nematodes and the group of nematode parasitic bacteria, the research team aims to exploit this knowledge and develop a natural and sustainable biological control agent for plant-parasitic nematodes. For more information visit Rothamsted Research.

 


June 26, 2014

 

P.E.I. WILL INTRODUCE WATER ACT

The Prince Edward Island government will be introducing a water act to provide a modern, comprehensive legislative and policy framework to ensure the sustainable management of the Island's water resources, according to Janice Sherry, the province's environment, labour and justice minister.

"The implementation of a water act will demonstrate government's commitment to managing water resources in a sustainable manner for present and future generations," says Sherry. "There will be broad consultations with Islanders and experts in the development of the new act."

The proposed water act will create new legislation for areas such as groundwater allocation, discharges into fresh and marine water environments, and mandate targets for water quality. At present, there are various pieces of legislation, regulations and policies in place, but no comprehensive set of water policies embodied in one piece of legislation. The new water act will address that need.

The development of a water act was one of the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry following its consultations earlier this year on high capacity wells for agriculture irrigation purposes.

Sherry says that the act will address a wide range of matters related to the supply and quality of water, including drinking and waste water facilities, conservation and watercourse and wetland protection. She adds that no consideration will be given to lifting the moratorium on high capacity wells for agriculture irrigation purposes until the water act and regulations are in place.

As part of the process for developing the water act, a white paper will be released, public consultations will be carried out by an arms-length group and a review of legislation in other jurisdictions will be undertaken. The work will begin immediately.

http://www.gov.pe.ca


CFIA Q & A FOR SPTQMP

 

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has released a question and answer segment on its website for the Seed Potato Tuber Quality Management Program (SPTQMP) for seed potato tuber inspections.

The information provides answers to some of the most asked questions about the program, including the following:

Q1.What is the SPTQMP for seed potato tuber inspection?

A1. Under the SPTQMP, seed potato growers or their designated representatives conduct their own shipping-point tuber inspections for their domestic shipments. More than 130 seed potato operations in Canada are currently shipping seed domestically under the SPTQMP. Participation in the SPTQMP offers seed potato growers more flexibility, as they no longer have to wait for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to inspect their shipments and issue associated documentation prior to shipping their product within Canada. Critical issues such as timeliness and costs associated with delays and overtime can be effectively addressed.

Q2: Is the SPTQMP mandatory?

A2: No, the SPTQMP remains voluntary for domestic shipments of seed potatoes.

For the entire question and answer segment visit the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

OFVGA HIRES NEW EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT

John Kelly has been hired as the new executive vice-president of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. He will assume his position on July 1, taking over from retiring CEO Art Smith.

According to the association, Kelly has been focused throughout his career on innovation development and implementation, as well as advancing products and technologies in the agriculture, food, biotechnology, pharma and bio-economy sectors. He most recently led Erie Innovation and Commercialization, a 4.5-year initiative of the OFVGA with a mandate to diversify agriculture and food opportunities for the sand plains area of the south-central Ontario Region.

"This is a very important time for the OFVGA and it is crucial that the challenges and issues affecting fruit and vegetable growers be directly addressed. Our job will be to implement the strategy and direction of the board," says Kelly.

The OFVGA is the voice of Ontario's 7,500 fruit, vegetable and greenhouse farmers on issues affecting the edible horticulture sector.

http://www.ofvga.org


TOMRA SORTING OPENS NEW FACILITY

 

TOMRA Sorting Solutions U.S. food division has officially opened its new state-of-the-art facility in West Sacramento, California. The company's 50-plus strong team has relocated to the new site which is more than 30 per cent larger than the previous building in California.

TOMRA Sorting Food provides sensor-based sorting and processing systems for the fresh and processed food industries. TOMRA Sorting's new West Sacramento facility and its site in Denver, Colorado, provides comprehensive customer support and manufacturing capabilities for the Americas.

According to the company, the new facility includes sorting solutions centres, where customers can see live demonstrations of TOMRA's sorting, peeling and process analytics systems, and trial their own applications.

"With extra space and better facilities, including test, demonstration and development areas, the new West Sacramento site will enable our U.S. team to concentrate on developing solutions for the food industry in the region. The new premises will enable them to better serve their growing customer base in terms of sales and service," says Ashley Hunter, senior vice-president and head of TOMRA Sorting Food.

"We encourage food producers and processors to share their needs with us, so we can suggest customized solutions, directly meeting their unique requirements, from our large range of product and technology offerings." For more information visit TOMRA Sorting Food.

www.tomra.com/en/news-and-media/news/


June 12, 2014

POTATO BREEDING ADVANCES IN NEW BRUNSWICK

Some 1,200 different potatoes from the Potato Research Centre breeding program are being planted on 35 acres this spring at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's research farm in Benton Ridge, N.B.

The goal is to produce better potatoes for Canadian farmers and consumers around the world. Varieties that require less costly fertilizer and pesticides give farmers a bigger harvest and better quality potatoes and improved tolerance to drought and heat stress. The PRC takes a leading role in the early stages of new variety development with growers and others in the potato industry following up with trials and evaluation of the new tuber lines.

Dozens of promising selections for commercialization, including seven potatoes with extreme resistance to Potato Virus Y, are currently being evaluated by the industry. Resistance bred into potatoes provides long-term and economical protection to this virus that otherwise could inflict severe losses every season.

The list of selections in advanced industry tests includes seven french fry and chip potatoes that out-yield current varieties like Russet Burbank or Atlantic by up to 21 per cent in experimental plots, depending on the selection and the location.

Scientists are exploiting natural resistance found in some exotic or wild potatoes to control major diseases and pest threats. Three potatoes with improved, moderate resistance to some strains of late blight in controlled tests are currently under active evaluation by industry for potential commercialization.

Another 16 new advanced potato selections showing moderate resistance to some strains of late blight are currently in breeding trials, and many more with improved resistance are expected to come out of the breeding program soon. Late blight, if left uncontrolled, is probably the most devastating disease of potato. Since most (if not all) commercial potato cultivars are susceptible, they must be protected by multiple fungicides applications, costing Canadian producers a substantial amount of money every year.

The breeding program also has a number of promising potatoes in the pipeline that are expected to offer increased resistance to Colorado potato beetle including six chip and eight french fry selections. CPB is the most important insect pest of potato in Canada and requires chemical control in the absence of resistant varieties. Significant progress has been made in transferring resistance from wild species to cultivated potatoes, and selections with improved resistance are advancing into various stages of the breeding program.

Harvesting more potatoes per acre is another goal of the breeding program. Creating varieties with improved yield allows growers to produce more potatoes than the current standard varieties using fewer resources. Reduced chemical usage will contribute to savings to growers and to the environmental sustainability of potato production.

And to add a little colour, PRC researchers are working on potatoes with coloured flesh that promise improved antioxidant levels and improved health benefits for consumers.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada breeder Benoit Bizimungu planting potato seed by hand at Benton Ridge research farm in New Brunswick. Credit: Photo courtesy of AAFC

For more information visit Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

http://www.agr.gc.ca

NEW FINDING COULD HELP STOP POTATO DISEASE

A University of Florida scientist has pinpointed Mexico as the origin of the pathogen that caused the 1840s Irish Potato Famine, a finding that may help researchers solve the $6 billion-a-year disease that continues to evolve and torment potato and tomato growers around the world.

For more than a century, scientists thought the pathogen that caused late blight originated in Mexico. But a 2007 study contradicted earlier findings, concluding it came from the South American Andes.

University of Florida plant pathology assistant professor Erica Goss wanted to clear up the confusion and after analyzing sequenced genes from four strains of the pathogen, found ancestral relationships among them that point to Mexico as the origin. "The pathogen is very good at overcoming our management strategies," says Goss. "To come up with better solutions to late blight, we need to understand the genetic changes that allow it to become more aggressive. By understanding past changes, we can design new strategies that are more likely to be robust to future genetic changes."

Goss and eight colleagues analyzed the genes of potato late blight pathogens from around the world. Potato late blight, which flourishes in cool, damp weather, is caused by the pathogen phytophthora infestans.

The scientists sequenced four genes from more than 100 phytophthora infestans samples, plus four closely related species, to tease out the pathogen's origin. "Knowing the origin provides insight into its genetic diversity and the ways it adapts to different environments," explains Goss.

The pathogen also moved from other related species to the potato late in the evolutionary history of potatoes, she says, perhaps one reason potatoes are so susceptible to the disease and why finding a breeding-based solution to the disease has been so difficult.

The pathogen costs $6 billion a year globally between direct crop damage and spraying, she says. "Just when we think we're on top of it, a new strain shows up," she said. "New strains have repeatedly appeared in the U.S. that are more aggressive or resistant to fungicides. This pathogen just keeps coming."

Goss wrote the paper, which has been published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. For more information visit the University of Florida.

http://news.ufl.edu/2014/06/03/potato-famine-disease-origin/

MAINE POTATO PROCESSOR PLANS $7.5 MILLION EXPANSION

Naturally Potatoes plans to make a number of improvements to its processing plant in Mars Hill, Mine that will allow it to increase production capacity by 25 per cent next year, according to CEO William Haggett. The facility is on track to process 40 million pounds of Maine potatoes for the refrigerated potato market this year, he says, that number is expected to rise to at least 50 million pounds next year.

The expansion will provide the space to eventually increase this processing volume to roughly 90 million pounds annually, which Haggett maintains could potentially occur within five years. "We really think we have something going that's good for the potato industry in Maine and agriculture in Aroostook County," he says.

Naturally Potatoes sells refrigerated potato products – everything from mashed potatoes to diced potatoes – into the retail and restaurant markets. Besides the potatoes grown on its farm in St. Agatha, Maine, Naturally Potatoes buys potatoes from between 12 and 15 other growers in Aroostook County, Haggett says. "The refrigerated potato market itself is growing rapidly and we think we're gaining some market share, but we think we're also growing with growth in the industry," he adds. For more information visit Mainebiz. http://www.mainebiz.biz

 


May 29, 2014

 

CANADA U.S. AGREEMENT SUPPORTS POTATO TRADE

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the United States Department of Agriculture have adopted revised guidelines to manage potato cyst nematode (PCN) that will support potato growers, help facilitate international trade and maintain protection against the pest.

Effective immediately, seed potato growers can be eligible to export three crops without any additional soil sampling and testing, if their fields have been tested twice and determined not to be infested with PCN. In the past, seed potato growers were required to undergo sampling and testing for every crop of seed potatoes destined for the U.S.

Small potato tuber samples may now be exported to the U.S. without any additional soil sampling and testing if they were produced in a field that has been tested and determined not to be infested with PCN.

Overall, the revised PCN guidelines will help farmers take advantage of trade opportunities with less paperwork, fewer delays and lower costs. While PCN does not pose a risk to human health, it is recognized internationally as a destructive plant pest of economic importance and, therefore, a quarantine pest for the United States and Canada.

Growers who intend to ship seed potatoes to the U.S. are encouraged to contact their local CFIA office for more information and to schedule any soil sampling and testing that may be required. To read more from the Government of Canada, click here.

http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=849579

MCCAIN FOODS HIRES NEW PRESIDENT, NORTH AMERICA

McCain Foods Limited has appointed Jeff DeLapp as president, North America, effective June 2. Taking over the role from Frank van Schaayk, who is retiring next October, DeLapp will be based in Lisle, Illinois.

DeLapp brings to McCain more than 25 years of leadership experience in the food industry and has a track record of aligning sales and operations for profitable growth. He was president of Lamb Weston from 2002 to 2010. Prior to joining Lamb Weston, DeLapp was president and chief operating officer at The Bruss Company (acquired by Tyson Foods).

http://www.mccain.com/Pages/default.aspx

MEXICO NOW OPEN FOR U.S. FRESH POTATOES

The National Potato Council and the United States Potato Board have announced that the Mexican government has implemented its final rule to allow U.S. fresh potatoes to enter all of Mexico. This action is part of a bi-lateral agreement that facilitates trade in fresh potatoes between the two countries.

The NPC and USPB support this bilateral trade agreement, as it will benefit potato growers in Mexico and the United States, as well as the processing industries and consumers in both countries. Per capita potato consumption in Mexico is lower than the United States, so there is room for this market to grow. The USPB will conduct market development programs in Mexico, which will be designed to increase potato consumption there.

For complete information about the programs, resources and tools available to all members of the industry through the USPB, click here.

http://www.potatoesusa.com/

 


May 16, 2014

 

MANITOBA GROWERS COMPLETE TALKS WITH PROCESSORS

Talks between Manitoba growers and processors finally wrapped up Monday, May 12, as the Keystone Potato Producers Association completed negotiations with Simplot Canada over a contract for 2014 production. The KPPA settled with Manitoba's other major processor, McCain Foods, back on April 25.

KPPA manager Dan Sawatzky says under the deals negotiated with Simplot and McCain, the price of contracted processing potatoes is down about four per cent from last year's price.

Contracted volumes are being finalized, but Sawatszy indicated that the deals with Simplot and McCain both included cuts in estimated contract volumes (approximately 10 per cent down for Simplot, and roughly 20 per cent down for McCain).

POTATO PSYLLID DISSECTED FOR CLUES TO BETTER CONTROL IT

Scientists with the United States Department of Agriculture are leaving no stone unturned when it comes to finding new ways of managing zebra chip and the insect that can spread this plant disease to potato crops.

In Wapato, Washington, USDA-Agricultural Research Service entomologist Rodney Cooper is using fluorescent genetic markers to understand where and how the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum survives in the potato psyllid, from the moment it is ingested by the insect pest to the time it is injected into new plants.

The information is important on several fronts — from improved experimental designs and data interpretation to better decision-making on how best to detect, control and prevent zebra chip.

Zebra chip gets its name from the dark bands it causes inside tubers. The bands are especially pronounced after the potatoes are cut and fried. Other symptoms include curled leaves and tissue discoloration. Zebra chip poses no consumer danger, but it is unsightly and can diminish tuber marketability.

After dissecting a psyllid specimen in his lab, Cooper subjects its excised organs and tissues to probes that glow green if the disease is present. Using this microscope-aided method, Cooper and his colleagues have observed Liberibacter in four main areas of the psyllid: its gut, hemolymph, bacteriomes (organs where symbiotic bacteria reside), and salivary glands.

The primary disease control method involves spraying potato crops with insecticides. However, researchers are seeking to provide growers with more sustainable approaches, particularly resistant varieties. Information from Cooper's psyllid dissections may also eventually set the stage for targeting Liberibacter directly. For more information visit the United States Department of Agriculture. www.ars.usda.gov

U.S. POTATO BLIGHT HOTLINES TO CONTINUE 2014

Potato growers across the United States will continue to have access to expert disease updates in 2014, as Syngenta announced it will continue to offer toll-free potato blight hotlines in partnership with five universities.

The potato blight hotlines consist of expert researchers providing timely updates about current potato disease pressures throughout the growing season and in five different potato-growing regions. Researchers at universities in Idaho, Michigan, North Dakota, Oregon and Washington will provide the updates.

"At Syngenta, we work hard to cultivate relationships within the potato industry," said Steve Gomme, Syngenta potato portfolio head. "Our partnerships with these five institutions give growers quick, easy access to the latest local disease developments, with the goal of helping them produce the best possible potato crop." For more information visit Syngenta's Farm Assist.

NEW AG PRODUCTION MODEL FOR POTATOES

Farmers are used to optimizing crop production on their own lands. But is it possible to optimize production across a much bigger area — say, for example, the entire Eastern Seaboard of the United States? That's the question a team of United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Services scientists in Beltsville, Maryland, has begun to tackle by developing a sophisticated new modelling tool.

Known as the Geospatial Agricultural Management and Crop Assessment Framework (GAMCAF), the tool brings together crop models that estimate plant growth and crop yield at scales as fine as 30 metres, with spatial sources of information on soils, water, land use and other factors.

Crop models aren't normally designed to work automatically with spatial data, explains Jonathan Resop, who led the platform's development with the USDA-ARS. Now, the new interface — published in a recent issue of Agronomy Journal — allows exactly that.

"This way, we can make much larger predictions of yields across the entire regional scale," Resop says. But, he adds, "The real power of this framework is that it lets you look at different scenarios of land use change, water, and climate change." For example, what will happen to production if more farmland is lost to development, or if average growing season temperatures rise substantially in coming decades?

Driving the research are mounting concerns about food security across the Eastern Seaboard Region. The 13 states between Maine and Virginia (plus the District of Columbia) now have nearly 25 per cent of the American population but only five to six per cent of U.S. farmland. The ESR also imports up to 75 to 80 per cent of its fruits and vegetables from places like California. The region is wealthy enough to import all the food it needs, says USDA-ARS researcher Dave Fleisher, who leads the overall project.

"So, the big question from my perspective is: what are the biophysical constraints that limit agricultural production in this region?" Fleisher asks. It's a complicated question to answer for the entire ESR at once, so he, Resop and their collaborators started with a single crop: potato.

Why potato? It's a staple food, for one, and yet the ESR grows only about 30 per cent of the potatoes it consumes, according to U.S. census data. Fleisher's team has also been working on potato crop model for a decade now, making it a good first candidate for integrating into GAMCAF.

When the team used GAMCAF to predict how many potatoes the Eastern Seaboard could produce if all of its farmland was devoted to this single commodity, they found the production capacity could be increased by as much as 40 per cent over baseline values. Capacity did drop off significantly from north to south — which was expected because potato is a cool-season crop — and lower yields were also correlated with denser, high clay soils.

Another key finding centred on water management. "Increasing irrigation, particularly in areas where potato farms are typically rain-fed, could result in substantial yield increases," Fleisher says.

Fleisher has now added a corn crop model to GAMCAF, is integrating a wheat model, and hopes to add many more. Once other models are included, the scientists can begin examining trade-offs: for example, where in the ESR does potato grow best versus corn or soybean or broccoli? "It's a way to optimize the spatial production of our commodities for our regional needs," he says.

The research is part of a much larger effort called Enhancing Food Security in the Northeast with Regional Food Systems (EFSNE), led by Penn State University. Funded by USDA-National Institute for Food and Agriculture, EFSNE is investigating the benefits that increased regional food production may hold both for consumers and for local farmers, retailers, distributors and others in the food supply chain. For more information, visit Penn State University.

 


May 1st, 2014

 

MANITOBA GROWERS COMPLETE TALKS WITH PROCESSORS

Talks between Manitoba growers and processors finally wrapped up Monday, May 12, as the Keystone Potato Producers Association completed negotiations with Simplot Canada over a contract for 2014 production. The KPPA settled with Manitoba's other major processor, McCain Foods, back on April 25.

KPPA manager Dan Sawatzky says under the deals negotiated with Simplot and McCain, the price of contracted processing potatoes is down about four per cent from last year's price.

Contracted volumes are being finalized, but Sawatszy indicated that the deals with Simplot and McCain both included cuts in estimated contract volumes (approximately 10 per cent down for Simplot, and roughly 20 per cent down for McCain).

POTATO PSYLLID DISSECTED FOR CLUES TO BETTER CONTROL IT

Scientists with the United States Department of Agriculture are leaving no stone unturned when it comes to finding new ways of managing zebra chip and the insect that can spread this plant disease to potato crops.

In Wapato, Washington, USDA-Agricultural Research Service entomologist Rodney Cooper is using fluorescent genetic markers to understand where and how the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum survives in the potato psyllid, from the moment it is ingested by the insect pest to the time it is injected into new plants.

The information is important on several fronts — from improved experimental designs and data interpretation to better decision-making on how best to detect, control and prevent zebra chip.

Zebra chip gets its name from the dark bands it causes inside tubers. The bands are especially pronounced after the potatoes are cut and fried. Other symptoms include curled leaves and tissue discoloration. Zebra chip poses no consumer danger, but it is unsightly and can diminish tuber marketability.

After dissecting a psyllid specimen in his lab, Cooper subjects its excised organs and tissues to probes that glow green if the disease is present. Using this microscope-aided method, Cooper and his colleagues have observed Liberibacter in four main areas of the psyllid: its gut, hemolymph, bacteriomes (organs where symbiotic bacteria reside), and salivary glands.

The primary disease control method involves spraying potato crops with insecticides. However, researchers are seeking to provide growers with more sustainable approaches, particularly resistant varieties. Information from Cooper's psyllid dissections may also eventually set the stage for targeting Liberibacter directly. For more information visit the United States Department of Agriculture. http://www.ars.usda.gov

U.S. POTATO BLIGHT HOTLINES TO CONTINUE 2014

Potato growers across the United States will continue to have access to expert disease updates in 2014, as Syngenta announced it will continue to offer toll-free potato blight hotlines in partnership with five universities.

The potato blight hotlines consist of expert researchers providing timely updates about current potato disease pressures throughout the growing season and in five different potato-growing regions. Researchers at universities in Idaho, Michigan, North Dakota, Oregon and Washington will provide the updates.

"At Syngenta, we work hard to cultivate relationships within the potato industry," said Steve Gomme, Syngenta potato portfolio head. "Our partnerships with these five institutions give growers quick, easy access to the latest local disease developments, with the goal of helping them produce the best possible potato crop." For more information visit Syngenta's Farm Assist.

NEW AG PRODUCTION MODEL FOR POTATOES

Farmers are used to optimizing crop production on their own lands. But is it possible to optimize production across a much bigger area — say, for example, the entire Eastern Seaboard of the United States? That's the question a team of United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Services scientists in Beltsville, Maryland, has begun to tackle by developing a sophisticated new modelling tool.

Known as the Geospatial Agricultural Management and Crop Assessment Framework (GAMCAF), the tool brings together crop models that estimate plant growth and crop yield at scales as fine as 30 metres, with spatial sources of information on soils, water, land use and other factors.

Crop models aren't normally designed to work automatically with spatial data, explains Jonathan Resop, who led the platform's development with the USDA-ARS. Now, the new interface — published in a recent issue of Agronomy Journal — allows exactly that.

"This way, we can make much larger predictions of yields across the entire regional scale," Resop says. But, he adds, "The real power of this framework is that it lets you look at different scenarios of land use change, water, and climate change." For example, what will happen to production if more farmland is lost to development, or if average growing season temperatures rise substantially in coming decades?

Driving the research are mounting concerns about food security across the Eastern Seaboard Region. The 13 states between Maine and Virginia (plus the District of Columbia) now have nearly 25 per cent of the American population but only five to six per cent of U.S. farmland. The ESR also imports up to 75 to 80 per cent of its fruits and vegetables from places like California. The region is wealthy enough to import all the food it needs, says USDA-ARS researcher Dave Fleisher, who leads the overall project.

"So, the big question from my perspective is: what are the biophysical constraints that limit agricultural production in this region?" Fleisher asks. It's a complicated question to answer for the entire ESR at once, so he, Resop and their collaborators started with a single crop: potato.

Why potato? It's a staple food, for one, and yet the ESR grows only about 30 per cent of the potatoes it consumes, according to U.S. census data. Fleisher's team has also been working on potato crop model for a decade now, making it a good first candidate for integrating into GAMCAF.

When the team used GAMCAF to predict how many potatoes the Eastern Seaboard could produce if all of its farmland was devoted to this single commodity, they found the production capacity could be increased by as much as 40 per cent over baseline values. Capacity did drop off significantly from north to south — which was expected because potato is a cool-season crop — and lower yields were also correlated with denser, high clay soils.

Another key finding centred on water management. "Increasing irrigation, particularly in areas where potato farms are typically rain-fed, could result in substantial yield increases," Fleisher says.

Fleisher has now added a corn crop model to GAMCAF, is integrating a wheat model, and hopes to add many more. Once other models are included, the scientists can begin examining trade-offs: for example, where in the ESR does potato grow best versus corn or soybean or broccoli? "It's a way to optimize the spatial production of our commodities for our regional needs," he says.

The research is part of a much larger effort called Enhancing Food Security in the Northeast with Regional Food Systems (EFSNE), led by Penn State University. Funded by USDA-National Institute for Food and Agriculture, EFSNE is investigating the benefits that increased regional food production may hold both for consumers and for local farmers, retailers, distributors and others in the food supply chain. For more information, visit Penn State University.

 


May 1st, 2014

 

CONTRACT PRICES DOWN FOR PROCESSING POTATOES

Prices for contracted processing potatoes are down almost everywhere in Canada, following the completion of negotiations between growers and processors in most regions of the country. Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada, says the price reductions were generally in the 2.5 to four per cent range, and that contracted volumes are down in some areas as well. His breakdown of the price and volume situation across the country is as follows:

In Prince Edward Island, the growers' deal with Cavendish Farms calls for a total price reduction of four per cent, although the expected contract volume for 2014 is similar to last year's number. The contract with P.E.I.'s other major processor, McCain Foods, contains a 3.9 per cent total price reduction and volume is expected to be down by more 15 per cent.

In New Brunswick, the growers' settlement with McCain calls for a 37 cents per hundredweight reduction in base price for processing potatoes. Volume is expected to be down double digits.

In Quebec, the growers' contract with french fry manufacturers is essentially a rollover of last year's deal, while the deal with one of two Quebec chip processors calls for a small reduction in expected volume (undetermined) and a price reduction of 40 cents per hundredweight of potatoes. Growers are going to arbitration with the other Quebec processor.

In Ontario, the processing potato price has been cut 65 cents per hundredweight from last year's price, but there's no report yet on whether volumes will be affected in 2014.

The processing potato price is also down three per cent in Alberta, but total volume is expected to be similar to last year's figure.

MacIsaac didn't have figures for Manitoba, but Dan Sawatzky, manager of the Keystone Potato Producers Association, confirmed a deal was struck with McCain on April 25, but did not release details. Contract talks are still underway between Manitoba growers and Simplot.

DATA SUGGESTS POTATOES CAN HELP CHILDHOOD NUTRITION

Recommendations to increase the intake of potassium and dietary fibre among young children should be a priority for the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, according to a new study by the Alliance for Potato Research and Education.

While the federal Dietary Guidelines has focused on adults and children two years of age and older, the 2020 Dietary Guidelines will include Americans of all ages, starting from birth, notes Maureen Storey, co-author of the study and APRE president and CEO. "For the first time, the federal nutrition guidelines in the U.S. will include dietary recommendations inclusive of children under two years of age," she stated. "APRE's latest study contributes to the body of scientific evidence that identifies nutrient gaps and suggests priorities to meet the needs of infants and the under-two's. This will help inform the development of dietary guidance for this important age group."

The data analysis showed that, on average, most infants and toddlers from birth to six months and from six to 12 months met the existing National Academies' nutrient recommendations. However, children one to three years of age did not consume adequate amounts of potassium or dietary fiber, on average. The inadequacies were consistent for both males and females and across different race/ethnicities.

"These results suggest that vegetables such as white potatoes that are rich in potassium and dietary fibre can help young children meet their adequate intake level for these nutrients," says Storey. "The white potato in all forms — baked, boiled, roasted, mashed or fried — is a good source of both of these essential nutrients in the diet, and [is] a vegetable that is well-liked by kids and their parents alike."

The APRE data analysis, Nutrient Intakes Among Infants and Children from Birth to 3 Years, will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. Visit Alliance for Potato Research and Education for more information. 

SWEET POTATO BIOTECHNOLOGY IN CHINA

Chinese researchers have conducted several studies to improve sweet potato through biotechnology. China has been using an efficient system of embryogenic suspension cultures for sweet potato genotypes since the 1980s in which plant regeneration in different tissues via organogenesis or somatic embryogenesis have been successful.

Somatic hybridization has also been utilized to overcome incompatibility between sweet potato and its relatives. The first interspecific somatic hybrid was produced by fusing petiole protoplasts of two species using the polyethylene glycol (PEG) method. It has generated useful interspecific somatic hybrids.

Cell induced mutation by gamma ray irradiation and in vitro selection have also been used to produce novel mutants. Agrobacterium-mediated transformation has been standardized for important cultivars, and has been used to produce transgenic plants resistant to diseases, stresses and herbicides. Molecular markers linked to a stem nematode resistance gene have been developed.

This recent study summarizes China's advances in sweet potato biotechnology and suggests future directions for research in biotechnology of sweet potato. For more information visit the Plant Omics Journal.

MAHINDRA SHUBHLAABH INKS ALLIANCE WITH HZPC BV

Mahindra ShubhLaabh, the agribusiness company of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., has entered into an exclusive strategic alliance with HZPC BV, a leading Dutch seed potato exporter.

Mahindra ShubhLaabh's seed potato initiative aims at technology transfer in the production of high quality seeds for the Indian market as well as capacity building for export opportunities. The company also intends to expand its capacity to produce high-quality, early generation seed materials for the Indian and international markets.

"This alliance is in tune with Mahindra ShubhLaabh's intent to adopt potato as a strategic crop in its mission to build rural prosperity," says Anjanikumar Choudhari, president of farm equipment sector with Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. "With this alliance, HZPC will bring in its leading varieties which will also be offered to the Indian market following government approvals. These will also form the basis of exports as Mahindra-HZPC co-branded products."

ShubhLaabh has already established itself in the early generation seed potato business in India. For more information visit HZPC BV.

 


April 17th, 2014

 

CHC WELCOMES NEW LEADER

The Canadian Potato Council has a new leader for 2014. The chair of the Potato Growers of Alberta, John Bareman, succeeds Joe Brennan as CPC chair.

Bareman was elected to the position at the Canadian Horticultural Council/CPC meetings held in Kelowna, B.C. in March, following Brennan's resignation as CPC chair.

Brenda Simmons, assistant general manager of Prince Edward Island Potato Board, was also elected to the position of CPC vice-chair.

NEW SEED-PIECE TREATMENT OFFERED IN CANADA

Bayer CropScience Canada has announced that its foliar potato fungicide, Reason, is now registered for use as a seed-piece treatment. When applied as a seed-piece treatment, Reason provides protection against seed-borne late blight.

According to company, growers can count on Reason to not only protect against late blight and early blight through foliar applications but can also trust it for seed-borne late blight protection.

"Many potato growers already rely on Reason and have witnessed the benefits of adding it into their foliar disease control program," says David Kikkert, portfolio manager of horticulture for Bayer CropScience. "By using Reason as a seed-piece treatment, growers will benefit from late blight protection that starts right at planting."

As a seed-piece treatment Reason can be used alone when late blight is a threat or as a tank mix with Bayer CropScience's Titan and/or Titan Emesto.

http://www.bayercropscience.ca/

NEW MODE OF ACTION AVAILABLE FOR SPECIALTY CROPS

BASF researchers have confirmed the discovery of a unique mode of action for Initium fungicide.

The findings have shown that Initium inhibits fungal activity by binding to the stigmatellin subsite in the respiratory complex III of the fungus. This means that Initium is the first and currently only fungicide in this classification and therefore not cross-resistant with other commercial fungicides, which BASF claims makes Initium an ideal tool for managing fungal resistance in specialty crops.

"This discovery marks a significant scientific breakthrough for BASF's research and development team. It is exciting for our team to have developed a molecule with such a novel mode of action," says Philip Lane, vice president global research fungicides for BASF. "This will help specialty crop growers worldwide to better manage plant diseases. We remain committed to developing and delivering additional innovations in fungicides."

BASF's Initium-based products are currently available for more than 30 specialty crops, including grapes, potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce and other vegetables, in more than 50 countries.

http://www.basf.com

USPB ELECTS NEW LEADERSHIP

Members of the United States Potato Board elected a new leader during their annual meeting held March 11-13 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Brett Jensen from Idaho Falls, Idaho will serve as chairman of the USPB, replacing Rob Davis from Connell, Wash.

http://www.uspotatoes.com/index.php


April 3rd, 2014

 

DATA SHOWS WHITE POTATOES BOOST FIBRE INTAKE

A new data analysis conducted by the U.S.-based Alliance for Potato Research and Education shows that white potato consumption is positively associated with the intake of dietary fibre among children and adults.

"There is a perception that the dietary fibre in the potato is only in the skin," said Maureen Storey, president and CEO of APRE, at a recent dietary fibre symposium held in Bethesda, Md. "Not true. Although the skin is an excellent source of dietary fibre, it is also found in the flesh of the potato, which is a good source by itself."

Storey highlighted key findings from APRE's latest data analysis of the Nutritional Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which showed most Americans get only about half of the recommended adequate intake of dietary fibre. In addition, starchy vegetable and potato consumption is about half of what is recommended by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

"Potatoes, including french fries, are a significant source of nutrients to increase, such as dietary fibre," said Storey. "In the food supply, potatoes provide more than six per cent of dietary fibre to adults and almost seven per cent to children, while providing only three per cent of total energy. This suggests that white potatoes are a nutrient-dense vegetable that compares favourably with the energy provided." For more information visit the Alliance for Potato Research and Educationhttp://www.apre.org

MEXICO EXPANDS CROSS-BORDER POTATO TRADE

The United States potato industry along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative are pleased to learn that the Mexican government has issued its final rule designed to achieve the bilateral goal of expanding trade in fresh potatoes between the two countries.

Publishing the final rule is an important step in the parallel regulatory efforts taking place in both the United States and Mexico. The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has indicated it will publish its final rule in the Federal Register shortly.

The final regulations issued by Mexico provide the structure for trade in potatoes between all countries and Mexico. A specific protocol agreed to by the U.S. and Mexico will govern the specifics of potato trade between the countries. For more information visit the National Potato Council.

www.nationalpotatocouncil.org

PLANT SCIENTIST HOPES TO SOLVE PCN

A post-graduate research student at Harper Adams University in the United Kingdom is hoping that his passion for plant science will help growers to find a solution for potato cyst nematode. Bill Watts is investigating strategies for optimizing biofumigation ― a novel pest management technique that will support existing control methods.

Biofumigation is the term used for growing glucosinolate-rich cover crops such as Indian mustard or oil radish that are chopped and incorporated into pest or disease-infested soils. Glucosinolates are non-toxic products produced during plant metabolism. The process involves the breakdown of these glucosinolates into toxic gases through a natural process of hydrolysis; a chemical reaction that occurs in the presence of water. This is proving to be a promising pest and disease management strategy which could reduce pesticide usage, and has been shown to be highly effective in past studies.

Watts is focusing specifically on improving the incorporation methods used in biofumigation and assessing the most suitable conditions needed to optimize the process. He also hopes to identify the most appropriate machinery for use with biofumigation, and the most effective species or blends.

"Biofumigant plants have the potential to be as effective as chemical crop protection methods, if we can unlock the potential within the plants," says Watts.

As part of the research, which is sponsored by Frontier Agriculture Ltd., Watts is conducting laboratory, greenhouse and field experiments. He hopes to work towards becoming a research agronomist specializing in the management of cyst nematodes and is determined that his research will deliver a series of practical steps to achieving effective management of PCN on farm. For more information visit the Harper Adams Centre for Integrated Pest Management.

www.harper-adams.ac.uk

 


March 20th, 2014

 

CFIA 2013 SURVEY FINDS NO DETECTIONS OF PCN

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has completed all potato cyst nematode soil sampling and testing for the 2013 seed potato crop. There were no indications of the disease in the national PCN detection survey.

More than 16,700 soil samples were collected and analyzed as part of the survey. The CFIA, in collaboration with Canadian seed potato growers, prioritized the samples in order to meet the requirements of various importing countries, as well as export deadlines.

The Government of Canada says it is committed to working with stakeholders to protect plant health and ensure continued market access for Canadian seed potatoes. For more information, visit the CFIA. 

NEW BRUNSWICK SEED CENTRE PRIVATIZED

Employees at the provincially owned Bon Accord Elite Seed Potato Centre in Perth-Andover, N.B., were given their pink slips this March. "The workers were called in and informed that they will be out of a job," says Andy Hardy, president of CUPE Local 1190, which represents workers at the centre.

The farm had 10 full-time workers and employed another 30 during potato planting and harvesting season. Described as "a self-contained elite seed production unit" by the union, the centre produces 35 varieties of potato seeds for about 20 seed producers in the province.

"This centre in operation since the 1960s is worth millions of dollars. Bon Accord housed a greenhouse, 300 hectares of cultivated fields, a climate potato warehouse and various pieces of equipment," says Hardy. "The government is selling the Centre to Potatoes New Brunswick. We would like to know how much the government will get from that sale."

Hardy says the loss of good-paying jobs represents a blow to rural New Brunswick, adding says New Brunswick's premier, as a former agriculture minister, "should know how important it is to have a public seed potato growing facility which guarantees a disease-free and affordable crop to the farmers." For more information visit CUPE New Brunswick.

IDAHO GROWERS SIGN CONTRACT

Members of Southern Idaho Potato Cooperative who grow for J.R. Simplot Co. have approved a contract with the company that reduces their payments by roughly 2.5 per cent.

SIPCO will now go back and adjust its previously approved contract with McCain Frozen Foods, which would have kept payments to grower's flat, says SIPCO executive director Dan Hargraves. He adds SIPCO had agreed to revise McCain's contract upon reaching a lower payment rate with another processor. Hargraves notes that SIPCO growers narrowly approved the Simplot contract during a recent meeting, reluctant to accept a second consecutive year of backward-moving contract prices.

The new contract takes about 20 cents off of last year's base rates, bringing them down to about $7.40-$7.60 per hundredweight for Russet Burbank, depending on the growing region.

"The grower support for the Simplot pricing was mediocre. The offer passed, but it was not by any stretch of the imagination an overwhelming majority," Hargraves says, adding his growers disagree with cutting their margins while demand for frozen potato products remains flat. For more information visit the Capital Press. http://www.capitalpress.com


March 6th, 2014

 

NEW BIOLOGICAL FUNGICIDE FROM BAYER

Bayer CropScience Canada has announced the registration of Serenade SOIL, a new biological fungicide for fruit and vegetable crops, including potatoes. With a unique mode of action (FRAC Group 44), Serenade SOIL creates a disease protection zone around the seed and roots. The beneficial bacteria in the fungicide grow with the plant, expanding the disease protection zone and creating armour for the seed and the roots against common soil diseases like rhizoctonia and pythium.

"Serenade SOIL works unlike any other fungicide, colonizing the seed and roots to continually protect against harmful diseases," says David Kikkert, portfolio manager for Bayer CropScience's horticulture division. "Its unique mode of action offers growers a new tool for disease management, is exempted from maximum residue limits, and has a zero-day pre-harvest interval."

According to Bayer CropScience, studies have shown that because Serenade SOIL helps activate the plant's natural defense mechanism, it improves root colonization, increases efficiency of photosynthesis, and improves plant growth. As a result, crops treated with Serenade SOIL yielded a more robust plant and better quality product, the company says, adding that its liquid formulation allows convenient tank-mixing with both fungicide and insecticide products. For more information visit Bayer CropScience Canada.

SYNGENTA REGISTERS NEW SEED TREATMENT

Syngenta Canada Inc. has announced that Cruiser Maxx Potato Extreme seed treatment has been registered for use on potato crops in Canada. The enhanced, all-in-one, liquid pre-mix delivers a concentrated formulation that is simple and convenient to use and provides reliable protection from seed-borne diseases and early-season insects.

"This new liquid pre-mix formulation provides growers with the ability to target both disease and insect pests with one product and the new concentrated formulation facilitates ease of mixing and measuring with fewer jugs to handle," says Nathan Klages, product lead, seedcare for Syngenta Canada.

Cruiser Maxx Potato Extreme contains three active ingredients for comprehensive control. Group 4 insecticide, thiamethoxam, works systemically to provide broad-spectrum performance. In the plant, it is translocated via the plant's water-conducting system where it remains active for up to 100 days.

Cruiser Maxx Potato Extreme also provides two powerful modes of action against disease, an important feature now that some strains of seed-borne Fusarium are resistant to thiophanate-methyl and fludioxonil. The combination of Group 3 fungicide, difenoconazole, and Group 12 fungicide, fludioxonil, offer a broad spectrum of control, including·protection from silver scurf,·Rhizoctonia·control, and a second mode of action against resistant·Fusarium.·For more information visit Syngenta Canada Inc.

CHC RECEIVES BOOST FOR FURTHER RESEARCH

The Canadian government is investing $7 million to support a new research cluster led by the Canadian Horticultural Council. The investment will support industry experts, scientists and academics conducting research focused on reducing crop input costs while improving marketable yield and margins for apple and potato growers.

CHC is also receiving further funding via the AgriMarketing Program for an additional project that will also benefit the potato industry. The funding will allow the CHC to work on issues affecting market access for potato farmers and to increase global awareness of Canadian potatoes.

"Our government remains focused on the economy and on creating opportunities for Canadian farmers and businesses to grow and prosper," says Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. "A strong partnership between government, industry and academia will help ensure continued innovation and commercialization within Canada's vibrant and diverse horticulture sector." For more information visit the Government of Canada.

SURVEY SHOWS MAJORITY OF AMERICANS EAT POTATOES

In a new survey by the Idaho Potato Commission, 97 per cent of Americans said they eat potatoes and more than 81 per cent enjoy them as a side dish, snack or main course on average of three days per week.

"The IPC's marketing programs have one main objective and that is to increase Idaho potato consumption nationwide," says Frank Muir, president and CEO of IPC. "We were thrilled with the survey results, which found consumer attitudes toward potatoes shifting. America's favourite vegetable is now consumed three times a week, up from two times per week in 2009."

Baked potatoes are favoured more by those who are 45 years of age or older than by those 18 to 44 years old (36 per cent versus 23 per cent). The younger age group, on the other hand, favoured french fries (21 per cent versus 12 per cent).

When asked which vegetable the survey respondents craved most, potatoes were the clear winner. Nearly one quarter (24 per cent) chose spuds, followed by leafy greens such as lettuce, kale or spinach (20 per cent), broccoli (14 per cent), tomatoes (13 per cent) and corn (11 per cent). For more information visit the Idaho Potato Commission.

RWL HOLDINGS ADDS NEW POTATO EQUIPMENT

The Government of Prince Edward Island has announced an investment of $569,000 for RWL Holdings Ltd. to purchase innovative, technologically advanced equipment for a high-speed potato wash facility.

This new optical-sensing sorting equipment allows RWL Holdings to offer a new service to P.E.I. potato growers by providing them with a high-speed, high-volume service that will help increase their profitability by offering a more consistent product.

The funding will allow RWL Holdings to open a potato wash facility using the most innovative sorting technology. The equipment will sort the potatoes by size and type on a just-in-time basis, allowing more efficiency when sorting loads of potatoes for large-scale processors like McCains and Cavendish Farms. For more information visit the Prince Edward Island Government


February 20, 2014

 

NEW KIND OF RESISTANCE TO POTATO DISEASE

Phytopathologists at Wageningen University in the Netherlands have discovered a new mechanism that increases the resistance of potatoes to Phytophthora infestans, which causes late blight in potatoes. The new kind of resistance is based on the protein LecRK-I.9 and operates on the outside of the plant cell. This is new, because the resistance used so far to help potatoes withstand Phytophthora recognizes unwanted intruders in the plant cell.  But this kind of resistance is relatively easy to circumvent because Phytophthora mutates rapidly and can therefore avoid being recognized.

Phytopathologist Klaas Bouwmeester came across LecRK in Arabidopsis, a plant Wageningen scientists often use for research. He demonstrated earlier that this protein plays a role in the resistance of Arabidopsis to plant diseases. Bouwmeester then placed LecRK in potatoes, demonstrating that these potatoes have an increased resistance to Phytophthora, as he explains in the January edition of the Plant Biotechnology Journal.

That does not mean there is now a potato variety with long-lasting resistance to the potato disease, says Bouwmeester. In 2013 he was awarded a grant from the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research to investigate this new kind of resistance further. He is looking for similar proteins in potatoes, as well as in tomatoes and chili peppers. Bouwmeester will examine how these proteins function in order to find the versions that give maximum resistance in these crops.

"If that works, it would be a good idea to combine this new kind of resistance with the familiar resistance proteins in the plant cell," says Bouwmeester. "In that way, we create two lines of defence against Phytophthora." For more information visit Wageningen University.

PMANA MEETS TO DISCUSS 2014 PROCESSING CONTRACTS

The Potato Marketing Association of North America held a special spring meeting recently in Las Vegas, Nev. to discuss progress on the 2014 pre-season potato contract negotiations. Growers' at the meeting expressed disappointment in the direction of this year's talks. According to a PMANA press release, growers felt that processors had established a good precedent for establishing sustainable prices by adjusting contract price according to annual changes in the cost of producing potatoes. As those same input costs have leveled out for this coming year, growers expected that contract pricing would adjust accordingly but that is not what is happening, says the PMANA, adding that processors are forgoing this reliable method for determining contract price and reducing prices instead to levels far below the cost of production in many areas.

The press release says while every area must negotiate the best possible agreement for their growers, two common goals stood out that all felt were necessary for a reasonable outcome for both sides. The goals are:

  1. Each production area must stand on its own merit and not be tied to a price that another area may negotiate.
  2. No multi-year agreements should be made without inclusion of a flexible pricing clause that addresses changes in production costs.

Each individual area is continuing contracts talks with the hope of reaching agreements prior to planting season.

The PMANA is comprised of the bargaining associations in the growing regions of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Maine, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. For more information visit the Potato Marketing Association of North America. www.pmana.org

CONSERVING POTATO AGROBIODIVERSITY

North Americans love potatoes, but only a few varieties are grown in much of North American agriculture. In South America, where potatoes originated, more than 5,000 varieties continue to exist. A Penn State University geographer is gathering all the information he can about the agrobiodiversity of these uniquely adapted tubers with an eye toward sustainability of potato, the fourth largest food crop worldwide.

"In the U.S. we rely primarily on 10 to 12 types of potatoes total," says Karl Zimmerer, department head and professor of geography at PSU. "In fact, mostly we use only five to eight varieties. In South America, by contrast, there are 74 different types of potatoes in a single field."

Zimmerer has studied high-agrobiodiversity land use for more than 20 years, but until recently, those studies have been on the ground. He first looked at diversity within individual potato fields and then scaled up to individual communities and landscapes. People in a community have expert knowledge of 150 to 180 varieties of potato, he says.

"People in Peru, for example, love to eat potatoes and think that theirs are vastly superior to what we have in flavour, texture, starchiness and colour," explains Zimmerer. "They want to hang on to their high-agrobiodiversity potatoes and we want them to hang due to nutritional, ecological and other conservation advantages."

Scaling up even more, Zimmerer looked at potato fields on the landscape level, typically groups of five to 15 communities and regions that contain upward of 30 or 40 communities. Remote sensing approaches made this easier, but still only supplied part of the answers to identifying agrobiodiversity hotspots — biologically rich but environmentally and socioeconomically threatened areas — and creating ways to protect these areas and conserve these crops. Because the major potato growing area encompasses large parts of northern South America, Zimmerer says he needed a novel approach.

"There are 4,000 to 5,000 different varieties of potato in Chile, Colombia, northern Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela," says Zimmerer. "Up until now, the areas where varieties grow were just designated as large, undifferentiated shapes on the map. In order to support agrobiodiversity, we have to have an idea of large-area agrobiodiversity concentrations, so we have to look from the top down."

With this approach, identifying and analyzing region-scale areas of concentrated agrobiodiversity are important, as are the global institutions such as the International Potato Center in Peru. But perhaps the most important part of the top down study is the knowledge held by expert potato taxonomists who have long histories of geographically extensive work. "One example is Alberto Salas who has 60 years of experience and has vast geographic and agrobiodiversity knowledge," explains Zimmerer. "He is a Peruvian who has worked from Chile to Venezuela and has an extraordinary knowledge of major areas where diverse potato types are located."

While many experts are local to potato growing areas, other experts come from Europe and North America. To assemble an expert database of information about locations of potato hotspots, Zimmerer uses a two-pronged approach. For those comfortable with computers, he asks them to delineate on Google Earth maps the regions of concentrated agrobiodiversity. For those uncomfortable with computers, the same tasks can be performed using paper maps. Once the regional hotspot locations are on the electronic map, other information such as elevation, socioeconomic characteristics and slope becomes available. Information from the various experts can also be compared. Zimmerer's approach may eventually be used for visualizations that help enable the local crowdsourcing of this agrobiodiversity.

Zimmerer is already applying this approach to other crops such as corn, which also includes many unique types with geographic dynamics being a key to adaptation and sustainability. To read the complete article visit Penn State University.

RESEARCH SHOWS GM SPUDS BEAT BLIGHT

United Kingdom research findings recently published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society showed that genetically modified plants in the study were not infected by late blight. Funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Gatsby Foundation, the research indicated that in 2012, the third year of the trial, the potatoes experienced ideal conditions for late blight. None of the plants in the study were inoculated against late blight. According to researchers, transgenic Desiree plants were 100 per cent infected with late blight by early August of that year while all of the GM plants remained fully resistant to the end of the experiment.

The trial was conducted with Desiree potatoes to address the challenge of building resistance to blight in potato varieties with popular consumer and processing characteristics. The introduced gene, from a South American wild relative of potato, triggers the plant's natural defense mechanisms by enabling it to recognize the pathogen. Cultivated potatoes possess around 750 resistance genes but in most varieties, late blight is able to elude them.

"Breeding from wild relatives is laborious and slow and by the time a gene is successfully introduced into a cultivated variety, the late blight pathogen may already have evolved the ability to overcome it," explains professor Jonathan Jones from the Sainsbury Laboratory at Cambridge University. "With new insights into both the pathogen and its potato host, we can use GM technology to tip the evolutionary balance in favour of potatoes and against late blight."

In northern Europe, farmers typically spray a potato crop 10 to 15 times, or up to 25 times in a bad year. Scientists hope to replace chemical control with genetic control, though farmers might be advised to spray even resistant varieties at the end of a season, depending on conditions.

"Potatoes are important agricultural products and their susceptibility to blight highlights the challenge of producing food in a sustainable way, while minimizing effects on the environment. If we are to explore alternatives to chemicals, we need scientific research on a variety of approaches and technologies that could help us. This BBSRC-funded research provides important evidence to help inform future decisions on how best to meet the food requirements of a growing population," says professor Melanie Welham, BBSRC science director. For more information visit the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

 


February 6, 2014

 

SCIENTISTS UNLOCK SECRETS OF POTATO BLIGHT

Scientists have discovered vital clues as to how the pathogen responsible for the Irish potato famine adapted to spread between different plant species. Researchers at England's Oxford University and the Sainsbury Laboratory at Cambridge University looked in unprecedented detail at how Phytophthora infestans, a pathogen that continues to blight potatoes and tomatoes today, evolved to target other plants.

The study, published in the journal Science, is the first to show how pathogens switch from targeting one species to another through changes at the molecular level. Researchers examined the biochemical differences between Phytophthora infestans and sister species Phytophthora mirabilis, a pathogen that split from P. infestans around 1,300 years ago to target the Mirabilis jalapa plant, commonly known as the four o'clock flower. They found that each pathogen species secretes specialized substances to shut down the defences of their target hosts.

"Plants have these enzymes called proteases that play a key role in their defence systems," says Renier van der Hoorn, co-author of the study from Oxford University's Department of Plant Sciences. "When a plant becomes infected, proteases help plants to attack the invading pathogens and trigger immune responses. P. infestans secretes substances called effectors that disable proteases in potatoes and tomatoes. These are highly specialized to block specific proteases in the host plant, fitting like a key into a lock."

The effectors secreted by P. infestans are less effective against proteases in other plants, as they do not fit well into the locks. The researchers found that P. mirabilis evolved effectors that disable the defences of the four o'clock plant but are no longer effective against potatoes or tomatoes.

"For the first time, we have found a direct molecular mechanism underpinning the change in host specialization," says van der Hoorn. "Within the next decade, we plan to exploit the specialized nature of these effectors to develop proteases that are resistant to their action or can even trap them and destroy the pathogen. Potato and tomato plants with such proteases would be resistant to the blight pathogens, and combined with other resistant traits could provide another wall of defence against the pathogens." For more information visit Oxford University. www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_stories/

NEW AIR-CONTROLLED SEPARATOR FROM LOCKWOOD

North Dakota-based equipment manufacturer Lockwood has put its new air-controlled separator (ACS) in the spotlight. The ACS is a complete potato handling and cleaning system that removes rocks, dirt, vines and other debris. Lockwood's ACS-8 and ACS-5 are designed with a range of features including a vacuum chamber, a cleaning table and an air supply unit.

Additional features include a 48-inch potato discharge conveyor; collection conveyors for funneling dirt and stones to one discharge point; a containment unit for the collection of fine dirt and debris; a high-efficiency backward inclined fan; a 170-horsepower Cummins engine power plant; an optional electric motor drive; a hydraulically activated clutch for remote start-up; and a central control panel with remote access to the air supply unit. According to Lockwood, the ACS also provides a clean and noise-free work environment for workers.

Lockwood has a patent pending on the company's ACS technology. For more information visit

POTATOES WILL MANAGE CLIMATE CHANGE PRESSURE

Research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests that potatoes are still the go-to tuber when times get tough. David Fleisher, an agricultural engineer with the USDA's Agriculture Research Service, and colleagues conducted studies to measure how potato plants would respond to elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and the increasingly erratic rainfall patterns expected to result from global climate change.

The team conducted two outdoor chamber studies to evaluate effects of short-term drought cycles at current and elevated carbon dioxide levels. The studies were conducted using soil-plant-atmosphere research chambers that provided precise control over carbon dioxide levels, air temperature, irrigation and humidity. The chambers contained sensors that monitored air, soil, and canopy temperatures, relative humidity, and solar radiation above and below the canopy.

The quantity of solar radiation in the first study was about twice as much as in the second. Having two different study periods allowed the scientists to evaluate how variations in solar radiation during the drought periods affected plant response. In both studies, 11-day drought cycles were applied before tuber formation began and around 10 days after tuber formation began.

The researchers observed significant differences in plant response that they attributed to the variation in solar radiation, which in turn affected plant water-use efficiency and dry matter production. With all other growth factors being equal, the plants in the first study had a 30 per cent to 200 per cent increase in total dry matter production, depending on carbon dioxide levels and water availability.

The team also noted that the cyclic droughts resulted in lower levels of dry matter and leaf area production. They concluded that drought stress before tuber formation probably enhanced the future delivery of carbon, water and plant nutrients to tubers instead of to stems or leaves and that this response increased under elevated carbon dioxide levels. Averaged across all drought treatments, tuber yield from plants growing under elevated carbon dioxide levels was as much as 60 percent greater than tuber yield from plants growing under current carbon dioxide levels. The study results have been published in the journal Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. For more information visit the USDA-ARS division. www.ars.usda.gov

PARTNERSHIP UNVEILS NEW VARIETIES

The Maine Potato Board and University of Maine have announced the creation of two new potato varieties targeted at the french fry and potato chip industries. The new varieties — the Easton and the Sebec — were developed over the past several growing seasons.

"The Easton and Sebec varieties are the first to be released by the University of Maine in the past decade, and the first varieties to be released in partnership with the Maine Potato Board," says Tim Hobbs, director of grower relations for the Maine Potato Board.

According to Hobbs, potatoes are bred for a multitude of characteristics, including everything from disease resistance to improved fry colour. "To get the right combination of characteristics in one variety takes a large investment in time and resources," he says. "Eventually this investment pays off."

Created at UMaine's Aroostook Research Farm in Presque Isle, Maine, the Easton variety is the new french fry processing potato variety. Field evaluations conducted since 2004 indicate that the Easton potato will produce higher yields and lighter coloured french fries than the current standard french fry variety. While french fry processing is expected to be the primary market for this new variety, it also has excellent flavour and is very good boiled, mashed or baked, according to the Maine Potato Board.

The other new variety, Sebec, was also developed by the University of Maine and is expected to used primarily for potato chip production. Sebec tubers are round to slightly oblong with a lightly textured, buff-coloured skin and white flesh. For more information visit the University of Maine.

LOGAN FARM EQUIPMENT LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE

Logan Farm Equipment, a leading manufacturer of new potato equipment has announced the release of the company's new and improved user-friendly website.

"Our company is committed to providing durable, purpose built potato equipment. We are pleased to have a website that reflects the quality of our product and showcases our equipment with all their full features and benefits," says Clinton Arnold, director of sales for Logan Farm Equipment.

Highlights of the new website include integration with the Agritech Corp. website, giving the user access to Agritech's large inventory of used farm equipment. In addition, customers can enter to win a 2014 Logan LoadPro Bed and view a time-lapse video of a Logan LoadPro Bed potato truck being built. The website also includes a new blog, and a way to interact with Logan Farm Equipment through social media. For more information visit Logan Farm Equipment. www.loganfarmequipment.com

MANITOBA POTATO PRODUCTION DAYS

A record number of people came out to Manitoba Potato Production Days this year. Mary Ann Sareault of Manitoba's Keystone Potato Producers Association was conference co-ordinator of the three-day event, held Jan. 28 to 30 in Brandon, Man. She says organizers were extremely pleased with this year's MPPD, which generated the best-ever attendance of almost 540 participants.

"We had wonderful support from the growers, and then we always have great attendance from exhibitors and the industry and governments," Sarault says. "I haven't heard anything but positive [feedback]. Everyone thought the program was really strong, and the trade show's always a hit."

More than 70 exhibitors participated in the trade show, and the speakers' program featured more than a dozen presentations. The keynote speaker was Shimona Mehta, director of food service for the market research firm NPD Group, who spoke on What is Driving Consumer Choices? The next MPPD will be held in Brandon from Jan. 27 to 29, 2015. For more information visit Manitoba Potato Production Days. www.mbpotatodays.ca

January 22nd, 2014

BASF OFFERS NEW HERBICIDE FOR POTATO GROWERS

BASF Canada Inc. has received regulatory approval for Outlook, a new herbicide that will help potato growers address a major challenge to ag production — the increasing variability in the amount and timing or rainfall. Outlook will provide consistent control of nightshade, pigweed and annual grasses, even under dry conditions. As a Group 15 herbicide, Outlook also controls both triazine and Group 2 resistant biotypes whose populations continue to increase across the country.

"Based on our extensive field-scale Canadian research program and several years of commercial use in the U.S., we see Outlook as an excellent new tool that will help growers address both inconsistent rainfall and the growing problem of herbicide resistance," says Bruce Irons, technical specialist for horticultural products with BASF Canada.

Outlook contains the active ingredient Dimethenamid-P, which inhibits weed root and shoot growth, controlling susceptible weeds before they emerge from the soil. Outlook is applied after potatoes are planted but before they emerge from the soil. For more information visit BASF Canada.

W.P. GRIFFIN INVESTS IN NEW POTATO EQUIPMENT

W.P. Griffin is receiving a combined investment of $372,490 from the Prince Edward Island and federal governments to purchase new weighing and bagging equipment.

The Government of Canada, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, is investing a total of $323,490 for the equipment and also to help W.P. Griffin market its product and expand its exporting capabilities.

The P.E.I. government, through the Department of Innovation and Advanced Learning, and the Department of Agriculture and Forestry's Growing Forward 2 Program, is investing a total of $49,000 towards the purchase of new equipment.

"This funding will assist our company enter new markets in the potato industry," says W.P. Griffin President John Griffin. "Our new state-of-the-art equipment is helping us sell our specialty products to some of the largest retail chains in Canada and allowing us to evolve in the industry which helps us remain current."

W.P. Griffin has agreements with Walmart Canada and Sobeys Inc., two of the largest domestic retail chains in Canada, to market their new specialty potato products. For more information visit W.P. Griffin. http://www.wpgriffin.com

BAYER POTATO PERSPECTIVES SURVEY

Bayer CropScience launched its Potato Perspectives Survey during Potato Expo held earlier this month in San Antonio, Texas. Bayer collected valuable insights from tradeshow attendees across the food chain to identify potato trends, opportunities and challenges as the industry prepares for the 2014 season.

Key findings include:

- 48 per cent of potato grower participants responded that early blight and white mould were the most difficult diseases to control during 2013.

- 63 per cent of potato grower participants pinpointed the reduction of yield and quality loss due to insects and disease as a critical need to ensure a successful harvest this season.

- 37 per cent of retailer participants identified solutions to enhance crop quality as a top necessity for the upcoming season, and 34 per cent of other industry member participants cited the need for solutions to combat disease and pest resistance issues in the field as a key need in 2014.

- 54 per cent of retailer participants cited increased price of potato production and changes in import and export patterns as the most critical concern for the upcoming season.

- 42 per cent of grower participants, 35 per cent of retailer participants and 46 per cent of other industry member participants believed biotechnology may be able to expand production capabilities and crop yield for the potato market.

"Our commitment to potato innovation is driven by industry needs and demands," says Rob Schrick, horticulture strategic business lead with Bayer. "We continue to invest in the development of new solutions to meet the industry's evolving needs, and insights from our Potato Perspectives Survey will aid us in providing resources to combat critical crop threats." For more information visit Bayer CropScience. www.bayercropscience.us

N.B. POTATO CONFERENCE AND TRADE SHOW 2014

Potatoes New Brunswick will be holding its annual Potato Conference and Trade Show on Thursday, Feb. 6 at the Sénéchal Centre in Grand Falls, N.B. This gathering of New Brunswick potato growers and interested stakeholders attracts more than 200 people each year.

According to organizers, the conference provides an excellent forum for information exchange on the latest developments in the potato industry. This year's program will touch on such topics as: nitrogen and phosphorous management; disease, insect and weed management; variety evaluations; soil and crop management; innovative technology; post-harvest testing; and green sprouting.

Experts will also speak on issues of concern to the industry such as: federal and provincial programs; environmental issues; farm and equipment safety; phytosanitary issues; potato statistics; marketing and trade; genomics; and farm labour resources. For more information visit Potatoes New Brunswick. http://www.potatoesnb.com


January 9th, 2014


OPPORTUNITIES FOR ONTARIO'S FRESH POTATO INDUSTRY

 

A recent study to identify opportunities for Ontario's fresh potato industry has led to some recommendations for helping change consumer attitudes towards potatoes.

It is hoped the study, a collaboration between the Ontario Potato Board, Loblaw Companies Ltd., Downey Farms, the Value Chain Management Centre, and George Mitges and Associates, will enable businesses along the value chain to make more informed decisions. This includes addressing consumers' incorrect assumptions of the nutritional and health benefits of fresh potatoes, and building upon the finding that many consumers do not view price as a top tier consideration. More important to consumers is the availability of high quality, value-added potato products that address a specific functional purpose or are suited to a specific style of preparation.

"The study identified clear market opportunities that can be realized through greater collaboration along the entire value chain," said Don Brubacher, general manager of the OPB.

The study sheds light on how Ontario's potato industry has been affected by the emergence of competing carbohydrates, such as pasta and rice, along with increasing costs of production. It also discusses how potato growers' and provincial organizations' should collaborate strategically from a market perspective. For the full case study visit the Value Chain Management Centre. www.vcm-international.com

NEW APPROACH TO COMBAT PHYTOPHTHORA

Fast new techniques for genetic identification enable a more specific control of the potato disease phytophthora; this is the theory of scientists from Wageningen UR in the Netherlands who are working to partner with industry to further analyze the genetic variation of the pathogen and link it to practical recommendations. This will allow potato growers to optimally align their choice in fungicides and resistant varieties with the strains of the pathogen that occur in their region. "It is a unique approach that offers opportunities for other crops as well," explains phytophthora experts Huub Schepers and Geert Kessel.

Information on the genetic composition of Phytophthora infestans populations has been collected for some time. Considerable knowledge exists as to which genetic varieties of P. infestans are active in the Netherlands and how these populations have developed over the years. The EuroBlight network conducted the first analysis on a European level during the 2013 growing season. Field employees at the participating crop protection and potato breeding companies and research institutes collected genetic fingerprints by rubbing affected plant parts on a special cardboard card. Laboratories in the Netherlands and Scotland are currently using these samples to determine the DNA profiles and the results will be published on the EuroBlight website.

Wageningen UR is now looking to join forces with a group of Dutch companies to take the next step within the framework of a public-private partnership. In addition to taking more samples, researchers aim to collate knowledge on the characteristics of the various strains. Recent research by Schepers and his colleagues showed that certain fungicides suddenly became ineffective as a result of the development of new aggressive phytophthora strains. These connections were found by coincidence after damage had occurred in numerous plots. By testing isolates for their sensitivity to active substances, future damage can be prevented and the efficiency of crop protection products improved. For more information visit Wageningen UR. www.wageningenur.nl

MCCAIN IDAHO PLANT EXPANSION TO BEGIN THIS SPRING

McCain Foods is gearing up for a $100-million reinvestment in its potato production plant in Burley, Idaho. The company supplies frozen potato and snack food products for the food-service markets and also supplies retail grocery chains with both McCain and private-label potato products.

Company officials announced that they would increase the Idaho plant's capacity by adding a third production line. The expansion is expected to create more jobs, and McCain officials confirmed that they would be buying more local potatoes for the Idaho facility.

"We made the decision to invest in our Burley plant because of its strong potato grower community, highly capable work force and tremendous support from the local and state government," says McCain regional president Frank van Schaayk.

Construction for the expansion is expected to get under way in spring 2014. For more information visit the Boise Weekly. www.boiseweekly.com

PERU'S NEW KAWSAY POTATO FIGHTS ANEMIA

Peruvian scientists have developed a potato they claim is extra-healthy. It's called Kawsay, which means "food of life."

The variety is the result of years of work by scientists who wanted to build a better potato. According to Andina news agency, Kawsay potatoes have up to 50 per cent more micronutrients than normal potatoes, and are specially designed to help fight anemia.

Andina reports that researchers are primarily working on introducing Kawsay potatoes to high-altitude regions of the Peruvian Andes, where anemia and malnutrition are serious problems.

The Kawsay variety is also reportedly very hardy and resistant to harvest-destroying fungus. Researcher's claim farmers don't have to apply any special chemicals to their Kawsay crops in order to avoid blight, which is a boon for producers and consumers alike.

Andina reports that the Kawsay variety is currently being cultivated in the Huancavelica, Andahuaylas, and Huanuco regions of Peru, and could arrive in the Lima market by mid-2014. For more information visit Peru This Week. www.peruthisweek.com

TOMRA OFFERS NEW POTATO SORTER

TOMRA Sorting Solutions has introduced a whole new potato sorter on the market. According to the company, the Field Potato Sorter is the first effective optical sorter for unwashed potatoes. The machine uses biometric signature identification technology to separate earth, stones and other materials from the potatoes. It also removes rotten potatoes.

Alain De Puydt of TOMRA is pleased with the introduction. "Feedback is great," he says. The FPS belongs to a new generation of sorting machines. The special feature of a FPS is that the potatoes can be sorted immediately after harvesting and do not need to be washed in order to create contrast. "That's the strength of the FPS," says De Puydt. "The machine removes everything, from all clods, all foreign objects, basically everything that is not a potato."

According to De Puydt, what makes FPS and the new generation of TOMRA machines unique is their sensitivity, efficiency and ease of operation. "We are now focusing on Western Europe," explains De Puydt, "but because of the success we will expand to North America and the rest of the world." For more information visit TOMRA Sorting Solutions. http://www.tomra.com

 

December 12, 2013


BAYER OFFERS NEW FOLIAR FUNGICIDE IN CANADA

Bayer CropScience Canada has announced the registration of Luna Tranquility as a foliar fungicide for potatoes. A trusted fungicide for apples and grapes, Luna Tranquility is an all-in-one formulation that includes a new and unique Group 7 (fluopyram) and proven Group 9 (pyrimethanil) modes of action. According to Bayer, Luna Tranquility provides unparalleled disease protection against the leaf spot complex (early blight and brown leaf spot), white mould and black dot.

"With a unique Group 7 and 9 mode of action, Luna Tranquility is able to control early blight and brown leaf spot unlike any other previous fungicides," says David Kikkert, portfolio manager, horticulture at Bayer CropScience Canada. In addition to early blight and brown leaf spot control, Luna Tranquility controls white mould and has activity on black dot, helping growers manage many diseases with one product. It can be applied by either ground or air. "Used in a preventative spray program, Luna Tranquility will help growers combat major yield robbing diseases and produce better yielding, high quality potatoes," explains Kikkert. For more information visit Bayer CropScience. www.cropscience.bayer.ca

P.E.I. POTATO BOARD ELECTS NEW EXECUTIVE

The Prince Edward Island Potato Board has a new executive following its recent board of directors meeting. Gary Linkletter was re-elected as chairman of the board. Linkletter is currently serving his second three-year term representing the tablestock sector for the Summerside District. He is a partner in Linkletter Farms, a family farm operation that grows seed, table and processing potatoes.

Alex Docherty of Skyeview Farms Ltd. is the new vice-chairman of the board representing the seed sector from the Charlottetown District. Owen Ching returns as the secretary-treasurer for the board representing the tablestock sector for the Montague-Souris District. Also joining the board are two new directors: David Francis of Lady Fane representing seed producers from the Summerside District; and Rodney Dingwall of Morell representing processing growers from the Montague/Souris District.

Returning board directors include: Daryl Wilkie, Donald Godfrey, Irwin Jay, Darryl Wallace, Charles Murphy, Kirk Shea and Barry Green. Ian Drake also joins the board as a young farmers' representative in an ex-officio capacity. For more information visit the Prince Edward Island Potato Board. http://www.peipotato.org/

NEW APPROACH TO ZEBRA CHIP CONTROL

Zebra chip disease in potatoes is currently being managed by controlling the potato psyllid with insecticides. But one Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialist is trying to manage the disease symptoms with alternative methods and chemistries.

The disease is caused by a bacterium, Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum, which is transmitted by the psyllid, says Ron French, AgriLife Extension plant pathologist in Amarillo, Texas. "Biological control methods can target psyllid populations in a field, but it takes a while for them to be effective, and by then the insect has already transmitted the bacterium into the plant, especially if that psyllid flew into the field. It only takes a few hours for a psyllid to acquire and transmit the bacterium from plant to plant," French says.

French is conducting his studies using alternative controls as a part of the Zebra Chip Specialty Crop Research Initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. "We are looking at three different approaches: bactericides, plant defense response and plant nutrients," he says. "We are trying to alleviate the disease symptoms on tubers and throughout the plant, and improve plant health so that any negative impacts the psyllid, bacterium, disease or pesticide use are having on the plant can translate into improved yields."

His efforts to control the pathogen using foliar applications of a bactericide has had good results for two years when psyllid populations in the field and the instances of zebra chip were significant, French says. A significant increase in yield, 30 per cent, was recorded in potato yields.

But French says the problem is the next step, getting the bactericide labeled for use on potatoes. "Bactericides for potatoes are labeled only for seed treatments, although foliar applications in the field are allowed on some tree fruits crops. If we can include bactericides in a program that can minimize insecticide use, then this could be part of an integrated disease management approach," he explains.

In his approach to the plant defence response, French says he is trying to produce something like a systemic acquired resistance or induced systemic resistance response from the potato against the pathogen. "To do that, we hope to use several compounds to see if the plant can actually trigger a mechanism to defend itself from the pathogen and the psyllid as well," he says. "We hope to be able to do laboratory studies to determine if these systemic acquired resistance compounds work, and if so, why are they working? Year after year there are differences in the field as far as climate, disease pressure, insect pressure, so sometimes we have to go to the lab to figure out why it works one time and not another."

The third and last approach he is studying is using plant nutrients to offset the damage caused by the psyllid or the pathogen and any nutrient imbalances that result, or any phytotoxicity that might occur after applying pesticides, French says. "We are adding micro- and macro-nutrients and other fertilizers." A macro-nutrient is something the plant readily needs like nitrogen and phosphorus, and a micro-nutrient is something the plant needs in small amounts, like zinc or boron, for plant functions. "In the past two years we actually had very good results with a combination of micro- and macro-nutrients that were applied bi-weekly after flowering on the potato," French says. "We saw a 43 per cent total yield increase in 2012 and a 45 per cent increase in 2013 in comparison to the control or regular grower practices."

Tuber symptoms associated with zebra chip were only as high as three per cent in 2012 and 10 per cent in 2013, but that does not take into account foliar symptoms, potential insect damage and other yield-limiting factors, he says. The plan is to repeat these studies in 2014 with other nutrient and non-nutrient approaches. For more information visit Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. http://today.agrilife.org/

 


November 28th, 2013

 

GENETIC BLUEPRINT OF POTATOES REVEALED

An international group of researchers from 14 countries has unraveled the sequence of the potato genome, which will make it possible to identify the genes responsible for potato crop quality and performance. Almost 40,000 genes were identified and classified in a genetic map.

Sergio Feingold, director of the agro-biotechnology laboratory at Argentina's National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA), calls the achievement "a great discovery" which opens the possibility of identifying genes of particular agronomic, nutritional and industrial interest and incorporating them in potato improvement programs.

The INTA scientists managed to integrate the potato genome with other genetic and physical maps, as well as that of other crops such as tomatoes. From these findings, specialists will be able to reinterpret the discoveries made over the past 30 years connecting DNA regions to potato characteristics of interest. They can then identify the genes responsible for these associations, which could lead to improvements in such areas as potato performance, sanitary characteristics and nutritional benefits. For more information visit INTA.

FEWER POTATO ACRES IN IDAHO

Despite fewer acres dedicated to potatoes, Idaho's growers were able to limit the drop in volume this season with better yields.

"We had more potatoes last year than this year," says Frank Muir, CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission. "This sets us up well to have good prices for our growers. Prices started out higher this year than last year, and I think that trend will continue throughout the year." Those prices are a result of less volume this year on account of fewer planted acres throughout the state. Weather conditions were good throughout the harvest, which ran from July through October, and that contributed to increased productivity.

"Even with some heat issues, yields were up this year," says Muir. "Growers harvested more potatoes per acre, so even though there were fewer acres harvested, our yields were up." Last year's harvested acres reached 342,000 acres, up 23,000 acres from the previous year, and this year's acreage fell to 315,000 acres. Muir chalks up the drop to adjustments on the part of growers to find a good medium between too much product, which would lead to lower prices, and not enough production to satisfy demand.

"We probably had more acres than we needed last year," says Muir. "So growers stabilized down to what's more of a right-sized crop." The drop in production, estimated at around six per cent from last year, didn't affect quality, as Muir noted that sizing has been better than in previous years. For more information visit Idaho Potato Commission.

CANADIAN POTATO FARMERS WELCOME EU TRADE DEAL

The Prince Edward Island potato industry learned at its annual meeting held recently in Charlottetown that the new European trade agreement will result in increased Canadian exports and reduced tariffs in the years ahead.

"The comprehensive economic trade agreement announced in October will open new markets throughout the European Union and benefit the Canadian economy by $12 billion," said Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea.

"Current European Union tariffs can impose real burdens on our exporters" said Shea, adding that on - P.E.I. agricultural exports that are worth $4.5 million annually, these tariffs - can be almost 14 per cent. Shea said those tariffs and an 18 per cent surcharge on frozen french fry products – which makes up more than half the entire P.E.I. harvest – will also disappear when the agreement kicks in, which could happen by 2015. For more information visit Truro Daily News.

 


November 14, 2013

DEMAND HIGH FOR P.E.I. POTATOES

The potato harvest in Prince Edward Island is complete and world-famous P.E.I. potatoes are appearing on supermarket shelves and restaurant menus across Canada and the northeastern United States. Island potato growers are reporting a good crop of excellent quality potatoes this year.

According to Greg Donald, general manager of the Prince Edward Island Potato Board, the demand for P.E.I. potatoes is up this year. "If the movement we are seeing to all markets so far is any indication … we are optimistic that demand for P.E.I. potatoes will continue to be strong throughout the shipping season," says Donald.

Movement of P.E.I. potatoes has increased to all markets, with significant increases in export activity to the United States and several Caribbean nations. Staff at the P.E.I. Potato Board say they receive inquiries from as far away as Alberta and California from consumers looking to purchase P.E.I. potatoes in their local area, as they value the taste and quality of potatoes that come from the Island.

This fall and winter, television viewers can look for advertisements featuring P.E.I. potatoes on the Food Network Canada that are part of a collaborative advertising program with the P.E.I. Culinary Alliance. Learn More

SCOUTING FOR POTATO PSYLLIDS

The potato psyllid can be a problem for more than just the potato plant, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists. And it is not only the commercial potato grower who should be scouting, the researchers say.

Arash Rashed, AgriLife Research postdoctoral research scientist, and Charlie Rush, AgriLife Research plant pathologist, are monitoring the year-round existence of potato psyllids across Texas for a project funded by the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Zebra Chip Specialty Crop Research Initiative.

The tiny insect is named the potato psyllid because that is the primary crop damaged by the bacterium it carries, which causes zebra chip of the potato, Rush says. While zebra chip is not harmful to humans, infected potatoes show dark stripes when chipped or fried and are rejected by major manufacturers, causing serious economic loss. Since the start of the initiative in 2009, one thing scientists are looking closer at is crops other than potatoes that can be damaged by the tiny insect or other plants that host potato psyllids during the off-season.

The study is closely monitoring the year-round activities of the psyllid to try to determine if local populations thrive in wild plants in the absence of cultivated potato fields, or migrate every year through the various regions with the help of wind trajectories, warmer temperatures and potato growth, or a combination of these factors. "We want to see how the population of psyllids changes throughout the year — especially when the potatoes are not present," Rashed says. The general belief is psyllid populations build up in northern Mexico or warmer locations and, as the temperatures rise, move northward as far as the Canadian border, he adds.

However, after a year-long process, which included collecting yellow sticky traps every two weeks in Texas locations from as far south as San Antonio to Dalhart in the north, Rashed says he has trapped psyllids someplace with almost every collection in northern Texas, even during the snowy winter months. This, combined with recent findings of local over-wintering populations in Idaho, indicates a strong possibility that localized populations may have a cold tolerance and survive harsh winters, he maintains. Visit AgriLife.

KEY TECHNOLOGY INTRODUCES CLEANBELT

Key Technology has introduced CleanBelt, a new clean-in-place (CIP) system for ADR 5, an automatic defect removal system for potato strips. This automated CIP system reduces sanitation and maintenance labour requirements, minimizes the cost of replacement parts, and helps maintain the optimal performance of the ADR 5 system to accurately match product quality to specifications.

"Starch build-up is a persistent problem on potato strip production lines, especially on equipment with moving parts because starch hardens over time and on inspection equipment where build-up over viewing surfaces can degrade system performance. We're addressing that with CleanBelt — it's the first clean-in-place system for an ADR belt," says Marco Azzaretti, advanced inspection systems product manager at Key Technology. "Having a consistently clean belt helps the ADR operate at peak performance."

With a combination of passive and active cleaning systems, CleanBelt continuously removes starch from the ADR belt to prevent buildup. The consistency of this routine ensures a uniform inspection background for the ADR cameras over time, which eliminates the need to recalibrate the ADR and helps maintain optimal inspection performance without degradation. CleanBelt also eliminates the need to manually remove starch from between belt lanes and reduces the need for the ADR belt to be manually cleaned. Learn More.

U.S. REGULATORS TAKE AIM AT TRANS FATS

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced its preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils, the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods, are not "generally recognized as safe" for use in food. The FDA's preliminary determination is based on available scientific evidence and the findings of expert scientific panels.

The agency has opened a 60-day comment period on this preliminary determination to collect additional data and to gain input on the time potentially needed for food manufacturers to reformulate products that currently contain artificial trans fat should this determination be finalized.

"While consumption of potentially harmful artificial trans fat has declined over the last two decades in the United States, current intake remains a significant public health concern," says FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg.

Consumption of trans fat raises low-density lipoprotein, or "bad" cholesterol, increasing the risk of coronary heart disease. The Independent Institute of Medicine has concluded that trans fat provides no known health benefit and that there is no safe level of consumption of artificial trans fat. Additionally, the IOM recommends that consumption of trans fat should be as low as possible while consuming a nutritionally adequate diet.

Following a review of the submitted comments, if the FDA finalizes its preliminary determination, partially hydrogenated oils would be considered "food additives" and could not be used in food unless authorized by regulation. If such a determination were made, the agency would provide adequate time for producers to reformulate products in order to minimize market disruption. Learn More.

INTERNATIONAL POTATO TECHNOLOGY EXPO

The International Potato Technology Expo is returning to Prince Edward Island Feb. 21-22, 2014. Running biennially in Charlottetown since 1992, the event attracts visitors from as far away as Manitoba and the United States.

"Booth sales are strong — we are at 85 per cent sold, which is well ahead of where we were at this time for the 2012 event," says show manager, Matt Mitchell. "There is a lot of optimism after a successful maritime harvest and we are excited to return to the Island for this event to showcase the latest equipment, products and services available to the region's potato producers" says Mitchell.

This year's show will boast nearly 100 booths and will encompass everything from seed to soil to growing to harvesting. www.potatoexpo.ca

CHC AGM 2014

The 2014 Canadian Horticultural Council's annual general meeting will be held in Kelowna, B.C., from March 4-6, 2014.

With a theme of "Growing a Healthy Organization", this year's meeting will address high-priority matters for CHC members and include presentations and panel discussions on the many issues facing horticulture. CHC AGM 2014

 


October 17, 2013

 

FRUIT AND VEG SEED MARKET TO BE WORTH US$12.9 BILLION BY 2018

According to a new market research report, Fruit & Vegetable Seed Market, by Type & Geography - Global Trends & Forecast to 2018, published by MarketsandMarkets, the global fruit and vegetable seed market is expected grow from US$6,276.5 million in 2012 to $12,961.4 million by 2018, with a compound annual growth rate of 12.8 per cent from 2013 to 2018.

The report segments the global market into the following regions: North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and Rest of the World. Europe was the largest market for fruit and vegetable seed in 2012, followed by North America and the Asia-Pacific region. The report estimates approximately $4,562.4 million in revenue will be generated in the European market by 2018.

The global market is also segmented by crops that consist of brassica, cucurbit, leafy root-bulb, and solanaceae crop types, such as potatoes. Brassica crops include cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli; cucurbit crops include melon, watermelon, cucumber and squash; leafy crops include lettuce and spinach; root bulb crops include onion and carrot; and solanaceae crops consist of pepper, eggplant and tomato. According to the report, solanaceae crops dominate the global fruit and vegetable seed market. Brazil is the leading market in Latin America. China and France are the largest markets in Asia-Pacific and Europe, respectively.

According to the report, the seed market is mainly driven by such factors as per capita decreasing land, a high profitability margin, acceptance of precision farming and protected agriculture, changes in farming practices, and technology.

The report lists Monsanto (U.S.), Syngenta (Switzerland), Bayer CropScience (Germany), Limagrain (France), Takii & Co. Ltd (Japan), Sakata Seed Corp (Japan), and Rijk Zwaan (Netherlands) as key players in the global fruit and vegetable seed market. These companies have adopted various tactics for future growth and establishing a global presence, with new product launches the most common strategy. Read More.

INCOTEC EXPANDS NORTH AMERICAN VEGETABLE SEED BUSINESS
Incotec has added more personnel to its growing organization in the North American vegetable seed business. Steve Adams has been appointed account manager for AgriCoat LLC.

Adams is a long-time produce industry agricultural operations professional and will be responsible for all sales and marketing activities at AgriCoat.

Brad Kortsen has been appointed to the position of new product and business development manager at Incotec North America. In this new position, Korsten will focus full-time on customer solutions for Incotec vegetable as well as AgriCoat.

"These strategic moves represent a significant step forward for our organization. Steve brings a wealth of vegetable production experience and will be a great addition to our business, and having Brad in this new position will accelerate the growth of the organization in North America," says Mac Keely, general manager for INCOTEC Vegetables North America. Read more.

MCCAIN CLOSES AUSSIE PROCESSING PLANT
McCain Foods has announced the December closure of its potato processing plant in Penola, South Australia. Louis Wolthers, McCain Foods's regional president for Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, cites rising costs for inputs such as labour, electricity and raw materials as well surplus capacity as the main drivers of the closure.

Wolthers lists the low cost of potato imports as another factor behind the company's decision.

"Cheaper potato imports are seriously threatening the future of the processing industry in Australia, and will place further cost pressures on Australia's growers," he says, adding that in just 10 years imports of cheaper processed potatoes had risen from 10,000 tonnes to 130,000 tonnes at the end of 2012.

About 15 operations near the South Australia/Victoria border grow approximately 130,000 tonnes of potatoes, most of which McCain processes into raw french fries which are then supplied to food retailers.

Including the Penola plant, four Australian fruit and vegetable processors have closed this year. McCain Foods will continue to process potatoes at plants in Smithton, Tasmania, and Ballarat, Victoria. Read more.

PBL PATENT ON LATE BLIGHT RESISTANCE GRANTED IN EU AND US

Plant Bioscience Limited's patent on late blight resistance genes developed by Jonathan Jones and co-workers at the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, England, has been granted in Europe and the United States. The company reports that good progress is also being made in a number of other key territories affected by late blight disease in potatoes.

The patent consists of multiple resistance genes, which provide the ability to protect potatoes and tomatoes against late blight – the devastating disease that causes annual crop losses of about £3 billion. The patent also offers the potential to substantially reduce the use of fungicide applications and increase crop yields.

In ongoing field trials, PBL partners are reported to be making significant progress towards a commercial product. PBL is an independent technology management company specializing in plant, food and microbial science. Read more.

 


October 3, 2013

MCDONALD'S ADAPTING MENU

Under pressure to provide healthier meals, McDonald's has announced it will no longer market some of its less nutritional options to children and says it also intends to include offerings of fruits and vegetables in many of its adult menu combinations. McDonald's plans to make the changes to its menu in 20 of the company's largest markets, which account for more than 85 per cent of its overall sales, including overseas. The company says it will take three years or more to have the new menus in place in about half the restaurants in those markets, and the remainder may not have the changes until 2020.

The offerings, which were announced in conjunction with the Clinton Foundation's campaigns to reduce childhood obesity, are part of McDonald's efforts to compete for health-conscious customers by featuring food choices that are lower in fat, salt or sugar content than its more traditional burger-and-fries options. Read more.

U.S. POATO EXPORTS SET RECORD

According to figures released by the U.S. Potato Board, total U.S. potato and product exports for 2012/2013 fiscal year increased four per cent in value to more than $1.6 billion and also rose four per cent in volume to more than 1.5 billion tonnes – both record levels. The fresh weight equivalent of these exports is 65,711,211 hundredweight, or approximately 17 per cent of U.S. potato production. U.S. potato and product exports have grown 133 per cent in value and 79 per cent in volume over the last 10 marketing years.

U.S. exports of frozen potato products in fiscal year 2012/2013 increased two per cent by volume to more than 925,000 tonnes and six per cent by value to just over $1 billion – first time exports of frozen products have surpassed the $1 billion mark. Exports to the USPB's target markets increased four per cent in volume. The increase in exports to target markets was led by a 28 per cent increase in shipments to Mexico; 26 per cent increase to South Korea, eight per cent increase to Malaysia and a 15 per cent increase to Vietnam. These increases overcame a six per cent reduction in exports to Japan due to the 26 per cent devaluation of the Japanese Yen which resulted in a curb on all imports.

U.S. exports of fresh potatoes to the world increased 13 per cent by volume to just over 450,000 tonnes, but were down four per cent by value to $196 million. Fresh exports include table-stock potatoes as well as chip-stock, and in the case of Canada, potatoes for frozen processing. The decline in the value of exports was mainly due to the reduction in unit value of exports to Canada and Mexico, though volume of exports to both markets did increase. Exports of fresh potatoes to the USPB's target markets increased 24 per cent in volume and five per cent in value during fiscal year 2012/2013. The largest target market is Mexico with exports up 10 per cent in volume to almost 80,000 tonnes.

The USPB anticipates U.S. potato and product exports to continue to grow in fiscal year 2013/2014.The size of future increases will be impacted by fluctuations in exchange rates, economic growth in the markets and the relative supply and price of competitor products. Read more.

USPB NAMES NEW PRESIDENT/CEO

The United States Potato Board has named produce industry veteran, Blair Richardson, as president and CEO. Over the past four years, Richardson served as CEO for the combined entities of WesPak Sales Inc. and Enns Packing Inc., located in Dinuba, Calif.

Born in Texas where his family has been involved in farming and ranching for many generations, dating back to the era when the region was still part of Mexico, Richardson attended Texas A&M University where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics with a secondary focus on Business Administration and Finance.|

In 2005, Richardson was recognized as a leader in the produce industry when he received the Produce Business "40 Under 40" award for both the domestic and international categories. Read more.


September 19, 2013

 

LOW-GI POTATO ATTRACTS ATTENTION

Researchers have developed what they claim is the world's first low-GI potato. The Carisma potato was developed using natural breeding processes by Virginia market gardener Frank Mitolo and the Australian Glycemic Index Foundation.

"We have undertaken exhaustive testing using the ISO testing standard and we are satisfied that Carisma is unique," says Alan Barclay, chief scientific officer for the Australian GI Foundation. "Its glycemic index of 55 is between 30 per cent and 50 per cent less than other mainstream potato varieties such as Desiree (74), Russet Burbank (82) and Bintje (94)," he says.

"Our research showed that Carisma not only ranked well alongside other potatoes, but it is also comparable to other low-GI foods. Potatoes tend to get bad press as they are generally classified as a high-GI carbohydrate, but our research has discovered that Carisma has half the blood glucose response of other potato varieties." says GI researcher Kai Lin Ek.

"It has a similar GI to pastas, all of which are usually classified as low-GI foods. Plus, potatoes have a higher ‘satiety index' so you actually need to eat less than other carbohydrates to feel full," says Barclay. Read more.

KWS POTATO STARTS NEW DUTCH IMPROVEMENT STATION

KWS Potato has begun operations at its new seed potato improvement station in the village of Nagele, located near Emmeloord in the Netherlands. KWS Potato is a subsidiary of the KWS group, which has invested more than €12 million in the project.

KWS Potato's breeding, production and sales will be consolidate at the new facility, which  offers sufficient space for demonstration and testing fields for other crops grown by the KWS group, such as sugar beet, corn and grain.

"For potato breeding, we are banking on the transfer of our know-how from other crops. State-of-the-art breeding tools such as molecular technologies, new breeding methodologies and tissue culture are not widely used today in potato breeding," says Peter Hofmann, head of the KWS department for sugar beets and potatoes. "We want to become a technology leader in the potato world [in the] long-term. The breeding station is one key element in this process." Read more.

HEAT STRESS STUDY COULD PROTECT POTATO YIELDS

High temperature is one of the most significant uncontrollable factors affecting potato yield. That's why, in the face of climate change, it is more important than ever to understand why potato yields can be so dramatically reduced by hot weather, as well as find ways to develop new cultivars that are more resilient to higher temperatures. A new study by scientists at Scotland's James Hutton Institute aims to identify genetic markers for tolerance to heat stress, which could be of great importance in future breeding programs to develop new potato cultivars less susceptible to high temperatures.

A new study by scientists at Scotland's James Hutton Institute aims to identify genetic markers for tolerance to heat stress, which could be of great importance in future breeding programs to develop new potato cultivars less susceptible to high temperatures.

As the U.K. exports seed to countries where temperature stress is a growing problem, yield at higher temperature is an issue of increasing magnitude to the U.K. potato industry. There is also a real need to mitigate the effects of rising temperatures in regions of the U.K. to protect national food self-sufficiency.

Research into potato germplasm at the James Hutton Institute indicates there is a wide variation in the heat stress responses that may impact overall tuber yield. As heat stress tolerance is likely to be multigenic, understanding the basic physiological, biochemical and molecular responses to high temperatures can benefit breeding programs aimed at developing heat tolerant potato varieties, either by conventional targeted breeding or transgenic approaches.

"Although studies have previously examined heat stress responses in potato and other plants using a range of technologies, these have primarily focused on responses to heat shock or the immediate acclimatory phase following a shift to elevated temperature," says Mark Taylor of the James Hutton Institute. "In our study we chose to examine the impact of high temperatures following acclimation of mature tuberizing plants to either typical, that is 22°C during the day and 16°C during the night, or elevated, 30°C daytime and 20°C nighttime, temperatures.

"We have combined physiological, biochemical and molecular analyses with a detailed time series of transcript and metabolite profiles in both the leaves and tubers. This analysis informs the underlying genetic and biochemical drivers of the plant's physiological response and provides us with potential targets for developing potato varieties that can maintain yield in hotter temperatures," says Taylor. Read more.

MORE THAN 15,000 VISITORS AT POTATO EUROPE

Last week Potato Europe took place in Emmeloord, Netherlands. More than 15,000 visitors from almost 50 countries took part, a large increase from the 11,000 participants in 2009. The number of exhibitors also increased compared to the last edition of Potato Europe in Holland.

During the fair, exhibition spaces were filled with interested parties from the entire international potato sector, from seeding exhibitors to packaging suppliers. Outside, various harvesting demonstrations were given.

Potato Europe is organized in a four-year cycle with Germany, Belgium, France and Holland the host countries. The next edition will take place next year on Sept. 3 and 4 in Bockerode, Germany. Read more.

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