Competence areas

Products

Country/Region

Netherlands, France, United Kingdom

Crops

Potatoes

Date

October 2014

Farming into the future

Producing pretty potatoes

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Solanum tuberosum: not everybody knows the scientific name of the potato, one of the most important food crops. And while it has been on our plates in various forms for centuries, consumers are now growing more picky: these days everyone wants their spuds scrubbed and shiny without a hint of the earth they came from. Unfortunately, all that washing sometimes visibly exposes skin diseases on the tuber that doesn’t affect a potato's taste or quality but doesn't look very appetizing. Preventive seed treatments offer an easy solution.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s Atahualpa, Vitelotte or Royal Jersey: every potato from the thousands of varieties belongs to the same botanical species. This abundance of varieties is testimony to our wide-ranging and ever-changing tastes. And the latest change has made consumers shunning potatoes with visible signs of fungal or bacterial diseases on their skin – harmless or not. Forgoing seed treatment can have a calamitous impact on the marketable yield of a farmer's crop.
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A potato’s good looks aren’t just a competitive advantage for individual farmers: some countries, such as France, produce more attractive potatoes in general, giving Gallic farmers a clear head start. To achieve or retain a strong position in production, marketing and distribution of table potatoes it is important for all producers to respond appropriately to those changes in the competitive landscape. - A clear improvement of tuber color and appearance will become essential to cope with the new buying preferences of consumers.

Pretty is an easy sell

The rule is obvious: The prettier the potato, the easier it is to sell. And prettier potatoes mean better prices for growers. But as producers everywhere become more concerned about how their potatoes look the benefits of having and relying on Bayer's century of on-seed application experience becomes more important than ever. Helping farmers meet the growing demand for flawless spuds is just one example of how Bayer has adapted to its customers' needs over the past 100 years.

The prettier our products are, the easier we can market them and the better the prices are. It’s that simple.

Interview

Fighting potato pests and diseases

More than a billion people worldwide eat potatoes and the world’s farmers produce more than 300 million tons per year (FAO). Albert Witzenberger is Global Segment Manager SeedGrowth for Vegetables and Potatoes at Bayer CropScience and knows all about the threats to potato crops throughout the growing season.
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Mr. Witzenberger, could you tell us more about the various pests and diseases a potato crop commonly have to face?
“Yes, of course. The list of potato pests and diseases is as long and impressive as the list of potato varieties. It doesn’t matter whether it’s black scurf or stem canker – two diseases caused by the fungus Rhizoctonia solani – or a horde of hungry Colorado potato beetles, the impact on marketable yield can be severe. Bayer CropScience has developed a whole range of foliar and on-seed products to protect potatoes from pests and diseases. Two of our most popular on-seed fungicides are Monceren and EMESTO. Both require a sizable investment from farmers but the benefits of treated versus untreated potatoes are easy to see. Monceren and EMESTO leave potatoes with a clearly cleaner skin.”
Is one product right for all potato farmers?
“No. Naming two of our products already indicates that there isn’t the one-fits-it-all solution in Bayer SeedGrowth. The intricacies of an on-seed application are considerably different with potatoes than with other crops. While one Bayer SeedGrowth customer might be focused on growing potatoes for the fresh market, others supply the processing industry using the tubers to produce either industrial starch, fries or chips. And yet others produce high-quality tubers for the seed market. Potatoes are more complicated. Each grower has a specific set of needs.”
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How does Bayer tackle these individual needs?
“What’s really essential is to support farmers with local expertise. Potatoes are grown in more than 100 countries and it’s essential that Bayer crop specialists make on-site farm visits to learn more about the individual conditions such as soil types, the local production system or the available on-farm equipment. This allows us to offer customized, individual solutions very often combining our proven and trusted Bayer SeedGrowth brands with tailored services developed for customers around the world. For example, Bayer has worked closely with British farmers – who predominately use dry products to treat tubers – to optimize application equipment. In the end it all comes down to getting the most out of every single potato.”

Did you know?

It's not always easy being a potato farmer. There is a wide range of pests and diseases that a potato crop has to face every day. The good news is that thanks to Bayer SeedGrowth growers are able to cope with the following:

DISEASES*
  • Black scurf
  • Stem canker
  • Silver surf
  • Fusarium dry rot
  • Black dot
  • Gangrene

PESTS*
  • Wireworm
  • Colorado potato beetle
  • Aphids
  • Various leafhoppers
* Not all Bayer SeedGrowth products control all these indications. Individual product labels and recommendations, and local registrations apply and must be observed.
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