Monitor potato stores for dormancy despite harvest crop still in the field

LinkedIn +

The bulk of the UK potato crop has been harvested and stored in favourable conditions. However, doubts remain about the state of those crops still to be lifted following torrential rainfall.

“The growing season this year has been very variable, swinging between wet and hot conditions,” says Tim Kitson of Potato Solutions, an independent potato storage consultant. “However, the warm ambient weather most parts of the country have experienced in early autumn means that most crops have gone into store dry and in good condition.

“The crop still in the field will pose the biggest challenge once it is lifted. Some areas have got on better than others, but I would estimate that 10% is still to be harvested.”

Stores are being closely monitored for the first signs of a break in dormancy before the first in-store sprout control treatments are applied. Mr Kitson is still determining how the crops will react now they are stored.

“The seed crops from which this year’s crop originated were exposed to a lot of heat stress in the summer of 2022. I am unsure if this will influence the daughter crop. Generally, Fazor (maleic hydrazide) was applied in good conditions. We need to sit, wait and review.

“The first application will tend to be Argos (orange oil) for shorter-term stores. If the crop is planned to be stored longer, we will probably start with DMN. The important thing is to remain flexible.

“With the weather stopping harvest for a while, some customers are unloading stores they didn’t plan to. I had one store where we were preparing to apply Argos but had to cancel it at the last minute. The farmer needed to unload the store to meet demand because supplying freshly harvested crops is impossible right now,” he adds.

Since the loss of CIPC (chlorpropham), building a season-long sprout control programme has become much more complicated. Several alternatives are available, all of which have advantages in specific situations.

Lincolnshire potato grower John Coggon just completed his potato harvest ahead of Storm Babet. Mr Coggan grows 200 acres of chipping potatoes for the local fish and chip market, of which approximately 150 acres go into storage. The area is split between Sagitta, Markies and Edison, with a small area of Babylon tried last season.

“We have used Argos for the last two seasons,” he says. “We initially struggled in the first year because we were still getting used to applying it correctly. The store needs more space to circulate the fog than we were used to with CIPC.

“We had no problems in the second year using Argos. However, our first application was earlier than expected; MH uptake was lower than desired because of the dry conditions when we applied it.”

Due to his end market, Mr Coggon needs the flexibility to take potatoes from the store when he needs them. Up to 1000 tonnes tend to be held in long-term storage up until June. Four applications of Argos have been needed to control sprouting in this instance.

Looking ahead to this winter, he plans to begin with an application of DMN in most stores but then use Argos for all follow-up treatments. The ability to access the store only 48 hours after application is critical.

“Argos gives me flexibility. I do not have to keep the potatoes in store for a month after using it. I like that it is a natural chemical, and our application contractors have found it easy to use,” he concludes.

Share this story:

About Author