As industry figures indicate that demand for potatoes in the UK is on the rise, growers are being urged to maintain robust store management strategies, to preserve crop quality this autumn.
With potato harvest nearing completion, the challenge will now be to maintain the condition of the crop, right up until supply to the customer.
“It’s really worth stopping to consider that what you put into storage, is reflective of what you get out post-storage,” explains Morley Benson of Certis. “By this, I mean the quality of potatoes going into store, as well as the time put in to maintaining the storage environment. As crop prices continue to firm, attention to detail will be financially beneficial.”
“We’ve had a relatively dry harvest this year, which can cause excessive bruising to the crop, and leave it more susceptible to storage diseases.”
“Therefore, curing is incredibly important, as is making sure the crop is as dry as possible before storing. This will minimise skin damage before any in-store treatment, as well as reducing the disease risk to the crop,” Mr Benson explains.
“The most critical element thereafter is the application of CIPC, which should be around three weeks after harvest or at the earliest opportunity thereafter. As once tubers break dormancy, it is difficult to regain adequate control.”
As part of a good storage strategy, growers should pay careful attention to tubers in store – frequently looking out for any signs of dormancy break, as well as undertaking regular monitoring.
“Good store hygiene and overall management of the environment will both help to reduce the disease and sprouting risk.
“Keep stores cool, take regular samples of the potatoes, and stay vigilant. If the crop is starting to sprout, then don’t store it – move it out as soon as possible,” he urges.
Mr Benson also considers the effects of ongoing CIPC regulation changes, and how growers can consider this when planning their approach.
“CIPC application is critical in ensuring successful storage and tight product control. As new application rates come into force, making sure growers follow the Be CIPC Compliant guidelines is very important.
“Good active recirculation of CIPC can ensure better overall coverage of the suppressant, reducing the risk of residues. It will also ensure maximum efficacy at the new lower dose rates. Store modifications such as variable frequency drives and the creation of plenums can help achieve more positive airflow through the crop.”