The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has launched its new Storage Network, as part of an £800,000 fund ring-fenced for sprout suppression and storage support.
Potato Store Managers from levy-paying businesses will be able to call on the network for a site visit and one-to-one advice, delivered by independent advisors who have received training and information from AHDB experts.
This new initiative comes at a time where significant changes in the way potatoes are stored are going to be needed in order to cope with the expected loss of chemical options for use on the 2020 crop, most notably Chlorpropham (CIPC).
Adrian Cunnington, Head of Crop Storage Research at AHDB, said: “The Storage Network has been devised in order to allow agronomists and advisors to act as proxies for AHDB storage experts, allowing people to get one-to-one advice on best practice for their potato stores.
“It’s a free consultation that will allow levy payers to get up to speed with their individual storage arrangements, to tackle the issues they will encounter following the loss of CIPC.
“Store Managers can call upon the expertise of a range of professionally qualified advisors, supported by our own experts, who will visit businesses to talk though the options, assess stores and provide advice on how to mitigate any impact.”
A final decision on the future of CIPC is expected this summer. After two committees of member nations were unable to find a majority, the judgement will now return to the EU Commission itself, which originally advised that approval should be withdrawn.
Adrian Cunnington said: “It is a matter of ‘when’ CIPC goes, not ‘if’, unfortunately. There have also been label changes on alternative products containing Maleic Hydrazide (MH), which could restrict its use. It is important for growers to consult their customers before applying MH to crops this season.
“While there are some alternative suppressants in the approvals pipeline, notably ‘DMN’, there will no longer be the ‘safety net’ that was offered by CIPC for storage. It will be essential to pay more attention to detail and to focus on cost management with the new, more expensive control options. There is likely to be a period of time coming up where storing potatoes is particularly difficult. That is why we feel support from AHDB’s new Storage Network is going to be needed.”
To book a free consultation, levy payers are advised to call the AHDB Storage Network booking desk on 01406 359419. Alternatively, you can call the AHDB Storage Advice line for the over-the-phone advice on 0800 02 82 111.