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The Long History of Potatoes

After maize, wheat, and rice, potatoes are the 4th largest crop in the world. It is a very multipurpose vegetable that has its roots in the Andes area of Peru and is a profitable crop all over the world (Hardigan et al., 2017)They are commonly served whole, mashed or cut into small pieces, many times they are also processed into potato starch that can be used for baking and thickening of the sauces. It is rich in vitamin C, protein, niacin as well as thiamine and is extremely digestible. They are among the 15—tuber-bearing varieties within the Solanum genus. The crop's stalks branch underground forming stolons, its tips from which expand over time to generate approximately 20 tubers of different forms and sizes. Every potato may measure up to ten ounces and swell to 3.3 pounds in weight. Despite their origins in South America, potatoes were contributed to the world by Europeans (Gutaker et al., 2019). A famine triggered by a terrible potato infection cut Ireland's crops in half a century earlier, causing a significant socio-economic crisis. Around 1872, Luther Burbank, well-known horticulture, successfully promoted potatoes production in the United States. He proved instrumental in the development of a disease-resistant potatoes variety that also was utilized to treat the Irish famine. In this research paper on potatoes, we will investigate the beginning of their early history and move on to topics such as sustainable practices, pest infestations, pest management measures, promotion, and manufacturing costs.

The potato has a long history dating back to 3000 BC. They were farmed by Peru's Inca Indians, & they ranged in size from a walnut to apples during the period. These potatoes came in a variety of colours ranging from blue, black, red and the brown(Haan & Rodriguez, 2016). An uncooked piece of potato has been used in medication to cure injuries and bone fractures. They started eating them to prevent dyspepsia and kept them to avert rheumatism. They also were utilized to calculate time through the rate at which they grew. Around 1537, they were transported to Europe by Spanish conquistadors. Sir Walter Raleigh arrived in Ireland in 1589 and cultivated potatoes in 40,000 acres of rich soil nearby Cork. 40 years later, the commodity had spread over the rest of the European areas. They sprang 350 million years ago from a toxic plant family of nightshades, which includes chili, tomatoes, all kind of peppers, tobacco. In South America’s Andean Sea, and the mountains straddling Bolivia and Peru, the crop gradually evolved into potatoes. In the 15th century, Spanish invaders in Peru were looking for gold when they unearthed potatoes and took it back to the European continents (Love et al., 2020). The Europeans were hesitant to accept the potato, but popularity in the vegetable grew quickly after the Spanish administration realized that troops in the fleet and army who ate this vegetable in their daily diet would not fall to maladies like scurvy. by the 16th-century potato cultivation had expanded to Belgium, Britain, and Germany, where it was barely accepted and was dismissed as insignificant. It was only after it was discovered that potatoes were an effective diet for the army in terms of not only sustaining protracted battle but also providing superb nourishment. With both, the help of famed botanical Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, of France pushed widespread planting, as well as the endeavour drew an amount of publicity from the wider populace, who were anxious to incorporate the product into their everyday diet.  In the United States the last one of the nations to accept potatoes and use it in their diets and daily meals, which previously they used it to feed the farm animals and horses. 

Potato Production and Leading Producers

China is the leading supplier of potatoes, accounting for USD 281.1 million, – approximately 6.8% of total world potato exporting. It is the largest grower of potatoes worldwide, accounting for 26percent of net annual output by quantity (Qin et al., 2018). potato output increased to roughly 99.15 million metric tons, up from 72 metric million tonnes in the year 2007. China currently has more than 5.76 million hectares of land set aside for potato agriculture. Tubers were far more lucrative than every basic crop, prompting the Chinese administration to assist and promote the nation's potato-producing industry. India is the world's second-largest exporter of potatoes by volume, with 12.5 percent of the market. West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh are the leading potato-growing regions. potatoes production and output have risen within India ever since the mid-20th century (Rana & Anwer, 2018).   India produced 48.61 metric million tonnes of potatoes in 2017, an increase from the 26 metric million tonnes a decade before. Economic growth, shifting consumer tastes, an upsurge in the wealthy, as well as a transforming fast-food culture have all contributed to India's expanding potato output. Other notable potato producers include Ukraine, which has a 5.72 percent share of global production, and the United States, which has a 5.1 percent stake. Russia stands third as the world’s potato-growing country, contributing 7.6% to global potato production.  In 2017, Russian production was 29.59 metric million tonnes (Levshin et al., 2020). Potatoes are grown in Russia using domestic cultivation, and also the nation's environment prevents the product from being grown in just one area. The Russian potato industry is plagued by infestation, with approximately 4 million tonnes of product lost each year to pathogens and the Colorado beetles.

 Expanding agricultural yield while safeguarding makers, customers, and the ecosystem necessitates an integrative view involving a number of strategies, including trying to encourage organic pest predators, reproducing pest/disease-resistant cultivars, planting clean seeds, tilting with other crop varieties, and improving soil health with organic bioremediation (Kroschel, 2020). Below we see a few diseases and pests that are harmful for potatoes.

  • Colorado beetles (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) are quite well known pests  with a remarkable level of resistance towards pesticides (Molnar & Rakosy-Tican, 2021). 

Fig:1 Phthorimaes operculella, potato tubeworm larva. Photo taken by the Oregon state university extension

Source: (University of Florida, n.d)

  • In sunny and hot environments, the potato tubers moth, also known as 'Phthorimaea operculella,' are severely harmful predators that infects stocked or cultivated potatoes (Rondon & Gao, 2018). 

Fig: 2 : tuber with silver scurf (Helminthosporium Solani spores)

Source: (Johnson, 2020)

  • Silver scurf, also known as 'Helminthosporium solani,' is a disease that damages the potatoes first layer of skin, causing light brown blemishes mostly on stolon end. It's difficult to find such places. Such patches are often difficult to notice throughout harvesting, as well as the lesions darken while in stockpilling, prompting the peel to flake away. Most of these sores clump together to produce a larger afflicted area, enabling the tubers gradually run dry (Kroschel, 2020).
  • Dry rot, also known as 'Fusarium spp.,' is potato fungal infection that affects the bulbs to become black or brown inside and is commonly caused by an incision or bruising. These tissues constrict and slump as they degrade, creating a recessed black area.
  • Common scab, also known as 'Streptomytes spp' is characterized by heavy brown, uneven spots on the potato epidermis that are gritty in structure. A few of the patches are entrenched in the surface, while others are elevated and jagged on the surface. This can occur due to a variety of causes, namely soil organisms, temperature or habitat, or pathogenic strains.

Potatoes flourish in moderate and chilly regions because they require cooler nights and soils that are well-drained with  a high water content (Djaman et al., 2021). they do not   grow adequately in hot and humid climates. In effort to stop invasion of potato tuber moths, each crop must be caked in mud on a routine basis .For eliminating parasites and bugs, the produce should be treated with biological insecticides and carbaryl or quinalphos as soon as possible upon planting. If the land is well-drained and watering is regulated, black heart disorders in potatoes could be avoided. Adequate airflow in storage facilities is required for the product to improve gaseous interchange, which serves to drying the produce and avoids humidity. Potato demands an airy, dry, and cold stores environment, that survives for prolonged times if buried with 2 inches of soil. To prevent potatoes cutworm infestations, proper hygiene is essential, as well as manually killing the bugs (Knodel & Shrestha, 2018). Watering is also beneficial in decreasing the harm inflicted by this bug. Heptachlor or organic organochlorine should be added to soil, then particular pesticides, such as tracer or coragen, can be used to control the invasion. To avoid highly contagious illnesses, mainly robust, authorized spuds which are not overly little should be cultivated; tiny bulbs are readily contaminated (Kreuze et al., 2020). Routine testing of the area are required, and the uprooting of sick vegetation. To manage the bugs that contribute propagate the illness, natural treatments should be used in conjunction with Metasystox.

Challenges Faced by Potato Growers

Organic practices aim to help farmers, societies, and ecosystems by promoting ecologically friendly, lucrative, and socially beneficial farming methods In farming, sustainable development contributes to financial viability, ecologically viability, & ethically endorsed effectiveness .Organic practices aims to help farmers, societies, and ecosystems by promoting ecologically friendly, lucrative, and socially beneficial farming methods. In farming, sustainable development contributes to financial viability, ecologically viability, & ethically endorsed effectiveness. Potato are said to be more ecologically friendly than some other grains such as corn and maize. According to research carried out by Cranfield University in Bedfordshire, potatoes farming uses far less irrigation and emits far less greenhouse gas emissions than cereal grains. Though some researchers believe that the commodity is one of the most industrially farmed crops, and also that potatoes cultivation has been replacing hazardous agrochemicals with a nutritionally rich replacement obtained from the Peruvian coast since the late eighteenth century. Potato agriculture is credited with ushering in an age of chemical overuse, which began with the introduction of a strong arsenic combination to combat Colorado beetle outbreaks. The agricultural yield of potatoes is typically more detrimental to the ecology than many the foods in case of agricultural practices. Potato farming also emits 2.5 times more carbon dioxide in comparison to other agricultural products as Potato is a root vegetable that does not necessitate soil tilling, thus the earth in which they have been cultivated cannot be disturbed by tilling of the soil however while digging out the potatoes the soil does get disturbed.

This crop was harvested on 1 million acres in the United States in 2020, and the average cost climbed by USD 0.02 to USD 9.17 per cwt. United States, Washington, and Idaho jointly generate 50% of the country's potatoes supply, which totalled roughly 424 million cwt in 2019 and was valued at USD 3.94 billion (Koirala et al., 2020).

The potato was sold for a mean price of USD 9.94 per cwt in 2019, up against USD 1.04 in 2018. The crop's overall projected price has increased to USD 3.88 billion. In 2017, the nation secured export transactions of USD 3 billion in potato goods and potato, a 1% reduction from the preceding season. Frozen fries accounted for 2.03 billion British pounds of that tonnage, which the nation shipped to Japan, Canada, South Korea, and Mexico. In the same year, the United States imported 3.6 billion pounds of processed and pure potatoes, with Canada becoming the main supplier of chilled and processed potatoes goods (Zinde, 2021).

Conclusion:

The report gives an outline of the crop production by going back to its roots and analysing how the crop came into being from the night shade genus, we also study its, sustainability practises, pest infestations and diseases , and management techniques, as well as industrial output. Finally, the article finds that the crop's significance and consumption throughout the world have made it a crop that has much industry value and is consumed widely. 

References:

Djaman, K., Irmak, S., Koudahe, K., & Allen, S. (2021). Irrigation management in potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) production: a review. Sustainability, 13(3), 1504.

Gutaker, R. M., Weiß, C. L., Ellis, D., Anglin, N. L., Knapp, S., Luis Fernandez-Alonso, J., ... & Burbano, H. A. (2019). The origins and adaptation of European potatoes reconstructed from historical genomes. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 3(7), 1093-1101.

Hardigan, M. A., Laimbeer, F. P. E., Newton, L., Crisovan, E., Hamilton, J. P., Vaillancourt, B., ... & Buell, C. R. (2017). Genome diversity of tuber-bearing Solanum uncovers complex evolutionary history and targets of domestication in the cultivated potato. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(46), E9999-E10008.

Johansen, T. J., Thomsen, M. G., Løes, A. K., & Riley, H. (2015). Root development in potato and carrot crops–influences of soil compaction. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B—Soil & Plant Science, 65(2), 182-192.

johnson, s. (2020). Bulletin #2444, Silver Scurf of Potato - Cooperative Extension Publications - University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Retrieved 29 March 2022, from https://extension.umaine.edu/publications/2444e/

Knodel, J. J., & Shrestha, G. (2018). Pulse crops: pest management of wireworms and cutworms in the Northern Great Plains of United States and Canada. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 111(4), 195-204.

Kreuze, J. F., Souza-Dias, J. A. C., Jeevalatha, A., Figueira, A. R., Valkonen, J. P. T., & Jones, R. A. C. (2020). Viral diseases in potato. In The potato crop (pp. 389-430). Springer, Cham.

Kroschel, J., Mujica, N., Okonya, J., & Alyokhin, A. (2020). Insect pests affecting potatoes in tropical, subtropical, and temperate regions. In The Potato Crop (pp. 251-306). Springer, Cham.

Levshin, A., Ivashova, O., Gasparyan, I., Gasparyan, S., & Deniskina, N. (2020, July). Competitiveness of early potato production in two-crop culture. In Advances in Economics, Business and Management Research. Proceedings of the International Conference on Policies and Economics Measures for Agricultural Development (AgroDevEco (No. 2020, p. 208).

Love, S. L., Manrique-Klinge, K., Stark, J. C., & Quispe-Mamani, E. (2020). A Short History of Potato Production Systems. In Potato Production Systems (pp. 1-17). Springer, Cham. de Haan, S., & Rodriguez, F. (2016). Potato origin and production. In Advances in potato chemistry and technology (pp. 1-32). Academic Press.

Molnar, I., & Rakosy-Tican, E. (2021). Difficulties in potato pest control: The case of pyrethroids on colorado potato beetle. Agronomy, 11(10), 1920.

Powderly, W. G. (2019). How infection shaped history: lessons from the Irish famine. Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association, 130, 127.

Qin, J., Ramírez, D. A., Xie, K., Li, W., Yactayo, W., Jin, L., & Quiroz, R. (2018). Is partial root-zone drying more appropriate than drip irrigation to save water in China? A preliminary comparative analysis for potato cultivation. Potato Research, 61(4), 391-406.

Rana, R. K., & Anwer, M. D. (2018). Potato production scenario and analysis of its total factor productivity in India. Indian Journal of Agricultural Sciences, 88(9), 1354-61.

Rondon, S. I., & Gao, Y. (2018). The journey of the potato tuberworm around the world. Moths: Pests of Potato, Maize and Sugar Beet; Perveen, K., Ed, 17-52.

university of Florida. potato tuberworm. Retrieved 29 March 2022, from

https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/veg/potato/potato_tuberworm.html

Zinde, I. (2021). Potato product exports: A twelve-month snapshot.

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