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People News

KWS POTATO HIRES MANAGING DIRECTOR

KWS has appointed Roland Peerenboom as managing director of KWS Potato B.V. based at the company’s new facilities located in Nagele, Flevoland, in the Netherlands. Peerenboom most recently worked for Greenport Holland International as director and program manager for China and India, focusing on the international business development for the Dutch horticultural industry.

Product News

BASF OFFERS NEW HERBICIDE

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. According to the company, 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.

PARSNIP CHIPS NEW SNACK FOOD OPTION

In response to increased consumer demand for unique snack food options, Naturally Homegrown Foods has introduced Hardbite Parsnip Chips. The firm based in Maple Ridge, B.C. launched the new product at the Natural Products West Expo in Anaheim, Calif., in March. Made from fresh parsnips (root vegetables closely related to carrots), Hardbite Parsnip Chips are billed as “subtlety sweet and crunchy snacks ideal for the sophisticated snacking experience.”

Business News

IDAHO GROWERS REACH AGREEMENT WITH MCCAIN

Idaho potato growers who sell to McCain Foods have agreed to a contract that maintains roughly the same pricing as last season, says Dan Hargraves, who negotiated on their behalf as executive director of Southern Idaho Potato Cooperative. A majority of SIPCO’s growers approved the contract during a March 3 meeting in Burley, Idaho.

LOGAN FARM EQUIPMENT LAUNCHES WEBSITE

Logan Farm Equipment, a leading manufacturer of 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.

W.P. GRIFFIN INVESTS IN NEW POTATO EQUIPMENT

W.P. Griffin is receiving a combined investment of $372,490 from the Prince Edward Island provincial government and Canada’s federal government to purchase new weighing and bagging equipment. The Government of Canada 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 is investing a total of $49,000 towards the purchase of new equipment.

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.

BAYER POTATO PERSPECTIVES SURVEY

Bayer CropScience launched its Potato Perspectives Survey during Potato Expo held in January in San Antonio, Texas. Bayer collected valuable insights from 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.
  • 42 per cent of grower participants believed biotechnology may be able to expand production capabilities and crop yield for the potato market.

Industry News

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.”

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.

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.

UNLOCKING 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.

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. Averaged across all drought treatments, tuber yield from plants growing under elevated carbon dioxide levels was as much as 60 per cent 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.

AMERICANS EATING MORE 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 Idaho Potato Commission’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.”