INSIDERSPotato Growth Regulators and Sprout InhibitorsA Whole Lot can go Wrong During the 12 Days of Christmas

    A Whole Lot can go Wrong During the 12 Days of Christmas


    With radio stations and grocery stores blasting Christmas carols since just after Remembrance Day, I’ve been whistling carols for a month. After the year it’s been – pandemic restrictions and forest fire smoke, an unprecedented heat dome, then drought across the West; in-field sprouting for some and a challenging harvest season for many, then disastrous flooding in B.C. and the potato quarantine in P.E.I. – we could all use some holiday cheer and a well-earned break. That said, letting the festive mood distract you from managing your storage bin could have disastrous consequences.

    Tubers coming out of fields from Washington State through to Manitoba hit storage last fall drought weary, heat stressed and, in many cases, mechanically damaged. Physiologically old potatoes can break dormancy early and unexpectedly, and don’t take long can move from entirely and comfortably quiet to very active. I’ve seen bins, even of traditionally long-term storable Russet Burbanks, move from dormant to intensive sprouting inside of a week or two.

    To make dormancy even more challenging this year, many storages were kept warmer longer this fall to allow tubers to colour up on the way in. While that’s necessary for improved salability, delaying cooling will have used up the small amount of natural dormancy the stressed tubers had, increasing the near-term risk of dormancy break.

    Most producers who plan to apply CIPC have now done so. If you’re a ‘once and done’ kind of storage manager, this is the year to rethink your strategy. In addition to many bins being full of potatoes that won’t want to store well, supply chain challenges could mean timely shipping is difficult.

    First and foremost, keep a close eye on your bin for sprouting and spoilage. For added dormancy enhancement or to quickly respond if your pile starts to peep, consider an application of 1,4SIGHT. 

    1,4SIGHT is the only true dormancy enhancer available on the market in North America. Whereas CIPC exclusively suppresses sprouting, 1,4SIGHT triggers enzymes that keep tubers dormant, limit water-loss, and help maintain tubers’ overall health, thereby reducing the chance of fungal attack.

    If sprouting or peeping gets away from you, apply 1,4ZAP: a greener, more sustainable alternative to CIPC with 95 per cent burn-back of even multi-inch sprouts.

    Enjoy the spirit of the season and raise a glass with friends. Hug that family you might not have seen for months because of COVID-19. But, keep a close eye on your bin for sprouting and spoilage regularly. No matter how much you’d like to draw a line on what was, for many, a pretty horrible 2021 growing season, remember that what happens in storage is as critical as what happens in the field. You’re not actually done until those spuds are loaded up and heading out on sale day.

    From all of us at 1,4Group Canada, Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and yours, and here’s to a much better 2022!

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    Bill Orr
    Bill Orr
    Canada Technical Representative, One Four Group - Bill Orr started in the sprout inhibitor application industry quite by accident. After college, he worked for a tree care company and sprout inhibitor applications were its fall area of business. This was before the VFD was introduced into the application process in Canada. After enduring those dirty times cleaning up after applications, Orr continued on for another 14 years in the industry. He quickly moved on to doing applications, then technical training for applicators, next to managing the entire application process, and eventually to owning his own sprout inhibitor application company. His application experience has allowed him to do application in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Orr finds sprout inhibiting a very interesting and unique industry, and he enjoys all the dynamics and challenges it has to offer.