The maincrop potato harvest is now well underway, although a mixture of very dry conditions and torrential rains are adding to what was already a ‘patchy’ and difficult situation for the crop.
One grower, Ben Sykes from North Yorkshire told Farmers Guardian that by 8 October they had harvested around 20 per cent of their 220 ha crop, compared with 40-50 per cent in an average year.
“They were planted a lot later because of a wet spring and it has been a stressful growing season with the heat. We’ve had to wait a long time for them to mature and now we are harvesting dangerously late,” he said.
Earlier this year AHDB Potatoes’ planting survey recorded a 3 per cent drop in area, making it the third lowest planting figure on record, while overall the North-western European Potato Growers (NEPG) association estimates crop yields in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany and the UK will be 8 per cent below the five-year average at around 30-40 t/ha depending on irrigation and water availability.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
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Press reports suggest that major potato supplier Produce Investments, which owns Greenvale AP, Swancote Foods and The Jersey Royal Company, has lost one of its key contracts.
According to Food Manufacture, the unnamed customer plans to implement a ‘single supplier strategy’ and so Produce Investments will not be offered a new contract when its existing one expires next August, with product volume expected to be gradually phased over three years from that date.
A spokesman for Produce Investments said, “While naturally disappointed with the outcome of this decision, this is part of the ordinary course of business in the sector in which the company operates. The board will continue to work hard to drive new business and mitigate over time any negative impact this decision may have on the company’s operations.”
The news came just days before new Greenvale managing director Andy Clarkson, who has been promoted from customer operations director, was due to address the FPJ Live conference in Coventry. On his appointment, Mr Clarkson commented, “I am pleased to have the opportunity to continue the development of the Greenvale business. We have a great team internally and externally and I am very much looking forward to the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.”
Last month Produce Investments accepted a £52.95 million takeover from Jersey-based investment company Bidco, which will delist the group from the stock market.
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After months of hot dry weather, Irish potato growers are now concerned that a break in the weather could create ideal conditions for late blight to infect stressed crops.
According to a report, unsettled weather is expected for a least a week across Ireland with a mixture of sunny spells, heavy rain, rising temperatures and humid conditions expected. The forecast caused national meteorological service Met Eireann to reiterate a Status Yellow warning that current conditions are conducive to the spread of potato blight – which it expects is “likely to develop” in parts of west Ulster from 14 August.
The warning was first issues last Friday (10 August) and the forecaster also warned that, ‘Opportunities for both drying and spraying will be limited over the coming days’ which could create a perfect storm of conditions which favour disease development but prevent growers controlling its spread.
Photo Caption: Irish potato growers expect weather conditions to be ideal for the spread of potato late blight this week
Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons
The post Irish potato growers worried by threat of blight appeared first on Hort News on 20 August 2018.
AHDB Potatoes says that its ‘Bud the Spud’ campaign, and its take-up on social media has led to an increase in the sale of fresh potatoes following years of decline.
Bud was introduced to consumers three years ago as part of an EU co-financed joint campaign with Bord Bia (the Irish food board), with the aim of “emotionally re-engaging consumers with potatoes”, through providing quick-and-easy meal inspiration to fit in with our ever-busier lifestyles, while reminding them of the healthy and nutritious virtues of potatoes.
Another success was AHDB’s ‘More than a Bit on the Side’ where the target audience has continued to increase following each wave of campaign activity. AHDB says that analysis shows that consumer perceptions of potatoes being versatile and healthy were all higher than when the campaign started. Furthermore, findings from all bursts of post-campaign research have shown around 9 in 10 consumers are now considering cooking potatoes either on weekdays or weekends.
AHDB Potatoes added, ‘While retail performance cannot be directly attributed to marketing activity, at the end of the second year of the campaign Kantar WorldPanel figures showed that fresh potato volumes sold are higher than the level predicted, in this way the campaign is viewed as exceeding its target for the first two full years of activity.’
Photo Credit: AHDB
The post Social media help potato sales appeared first on Hort News on 23 May 2018.
The NEPG (North-Western European Potato Growers) organisation estimates an increase of 0.4 per cent in the planted area of its member countries compared to 2017.
In a release NEPG said that potato stocks remain high, but late planting due to adverse weather and the subsequent later arrival of early 2018 crops were expected to extend the season for last year’s crop. The group also expects to see a convergence of the market in terms of price and quality, with best samples increasing in value.
By the first week of May, continental planting had almost been completed, while around half of the UK area still had to be put into the ground. France, Belgium and Germany have planted more area, while in the Netherlands the area reduced by 2.5 per cent. Great Britain has no estimation available at the moment so the 5 years average has been used to calculate the area planted. In total 0.4 per cent more than last year, and 6.7 per cent more compared to the five-year average, has been planted. NEPG warned that this increase was not in line with the growing demand from the processing industry, and that a 4 per cent reduction in yields from the five-year average is also expected.
AHDB Potatoes pointed out that the NEPG estimates do not include data related to seed potatoes or potatoes for starch production.
Photo Caption: NEPG are forecasting a 0.4 per cent increase in potato planting this year
Photo Credit: Grimme
The post NEPG predicts increased plantings for 2018 appeared first on Hort News on 10 July 2018.
AHDB’s Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research has announced the launch of a new potato storage service called VarietyCheck for the forthcoming season.
AHDB point out that, “With new regulations on acrylamide and fewer sprout suppressants it is more important than ever to get the right storage conditions for your variety of choice.” The new service will be tailored to crop variety and dormancy, as well as end use.
For example, for processing crops using a variety with long dormancy and the ability to store at lower temperature without sweetening is beneficial. For fresh market packing varieties, maintaining appearance and avoiding blackheart are high priorities.
AHDB says that VarietyCheck will use established methods to objectively assess grower’s new varieties or potato stocks under defined and accurately controlled storage conditions with processing or fresh pack storage options. The service will cost £1,250 (excluding VAT) per variety/stock for the first stock, with discounts available for multiple submissions.
Photo Credit: AHDB Potatoes
The post AHDB Sutton Bridge launches VarietyCheck service appeared first on Hort News on 26 April 2018.
A US scientist is investigating the potential of using aerial drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to spot symptoms of potato diseases live PVY.
Donna Delparte, assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences at Idaho State University (ISU) discussed her research at the Idaho Potato Conference in January.
“They are very much the future, especially when we’re working on trying to expand the technology and look at new and novel ways to use UAV, such as crop-invasive species,” she said.
Using a special camera it’s possible to fly a drone over a field and determine the precise locations of plants infected with PVY with a reasonable level of certainty. Delparte’s team created a profile of what an infected plant looks like with a hyperspectral camera, and then took that profile to the field to identify infected plants. The results were ‘ground-truthed’ and after tuning the algorithm reached an 89.8 percent success rate.
The drone imagery combined with a Real Time Kinematic (RTK) GPS system, provided the location of the PVY infected potato plants. “Imagine we send a farmer a dot on a map or a GPS that says, ‘this is where you should be able to find PVY infected plants,’ and be able to do some sort of mitigation,” Delparte explained.
Despite the promise, the costs of the camera and the computing power required to crunch the large amount of data generated are both issues which need to be overcome.
Photo Credit: pxhere
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Norfolk-based E F Harrold Ltd of Oulton, near Aylsham, has applied for planning permission to build a new 2,200 tonne potato box store according to the Eastern Daily Press.
The development at street farm would include an open loading canopy, an office and machinery store.
A design and access statement presented to Broadland District Council as part of the application says: ‘The business has limited potato storage of its own… Moving all of potatoes directly off the farm at harvest time is a logistical problem, a very inefficient use of labour, due to the sporadic nature of harvest; and with its intensive nature, an intensive use of the local road network.’
Photo Caption: Harvesting potatoes at E F Harrold
Photo Credit: Ben Burgess / Twitter
The post Aylsham potato grower to build new store appeared first on Hort News on 18 April 2018.
Scientists at Pennsylvania State University have found that a diet rich in colourful fruits and vegetables, and in particular purple potatoes, may help to prevent or stop colon cancer and bowel diseases, following trials on pigs.
In the study, pigs that were served a high calorie diet supplemented with purple-fleshed potatoes had less colonic mucosal interleukin-6 — IL-6 — compared to a control group. IL-6 is a protein that is important in inflammation, and elevated IL-6 levels are correlated with proteins, such as Ki-67, that are linked to the spread and growth of cancer cells.
“What we are learning is that food is a double-edge sword — it may promote disease, but it may also help prevent chronic diseases, like colon cancer,” said Jairam K.P. Vanamala, associate professor of food sciences at Penn State University. “What we don’t know is, ‘how does this food work on the molecular level?’ This study is a step in that direction.”
While the researchers used purple potatoes in this study, Vanamala said other colourful fruits and vegetables could prompt similar effects. “For example, white potatoes may have helpful compounds, but the purple potatoes have much greater concentrations of these anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant compounds,” he said. “We use the purple potato as a model and hope to investigate how other plants can be used in the future.”
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The post Purple potatoes reduce colon cancer risk appeared first on Hort News on 5 March 2018.
Soils are fundamental to almost all forms of crop production, so adopting a rotational approach to soil health makes sense. That’s why AHDB has funded a five-year programme of research and knowledge exchange into key aspects of soil health as part of the GREATsoils programme. With the first information gathering reports published, the work is now moving into the next phase – Experiments and on-farm trials designed to answer key questions raised by farmers and growers about how they can practically improve soil health in their own fields. Read more…