INSIDERSPotato Growth Regulators and Sprout InhibitorsAre You Buckling Under the Pressure of Consumers' Scrutiny?

Are You Buckling Under the Pressure of Consumers’ Scrutiny?


Today’s farmers are being saddled with more and more public and political insistence to decrease their environmental footprints. Whether you believe that’s fair or unfair doesn’t matter: it’s the new reality, an increasing part of retaining your social license to operate, and already starting to be mandated by processors and buyers.

Sustainability is now part of almost every agriculture-related conversation. A decade ago, consumers wanted to know how the foods they ate would impact their own bodies. Today, the focus is so much bigger — consumers are increasingly demanding how the production of their food affects the air, water, and land; how it impacts the workers who produced it; and whether the status quo is good enough.

To date, the attention has focused on crop farmers’ actions from seeding through harvest, likely because the general public doesn’t realise the storage stage that occurs between harvest and shipping. Expect that to change, and possibly quickly.

As individual producers and a whole industry, we need to take a very hard look at our very heavy reliance on CIPC for sprout control during storage. We’ve already seen Europe deregulate CIPC and Japan ban it. Though I don’t anticipate Canada and the U.S. following the EU or Japan’s lead anytime soon, assuming nothing will change is naïve and risky. First, reliance on CIPC could limit international market access. Too, even if CIPC maintains its regulation here at home, market pressure from consumers may force processors and retailers to institute new standards.

“I’ll switch when I have to,” farmers often tell me.

It’s not so easy as that, since CIPC residue persists for decades. Instead, proactive farmers (actually, all farmers) should be looking now at alternatives.

1,4DMN (1,4-Dimethylnaphthalen), formulated as 1,4SIGHT for table stock and processing potatoes and 1,4SEED for seed stock, is a sustainable, green dormancy enhancer: the only true dormancy enhancer available on the North American market today. Unlike CIPC, 1,4SEED and 1,4SIGHT carry no contamination concerns.

Applied right at or soon after bin close-up, 1,4SIGHT helps calm a pile. In addition to inhibiting sprouting, 1,4SIGHT triggers the production of enzymes in the potato that decrease water loss, helping the tuber retain quality and minimize both shrinkage and fungal spread.

On short-dormancy varieties, 1,4SIGHT can be used as a stand-alone to maintain dormancy, support quality, and decrease moisture-loss as soon as potatoes enter the bin. On longer-dormancy varieties, 1,4SIGHT can be applied at close-up, then followed later in the storage season with another treatment (either a post-suberization, lower-rate application of CIPC or, more preferably, another application of 1,4SIGHT).

I often get asked if 1,4SIGHT is more expensive than CIPC. If you’re only looking at the price you’ll pay at the retail counter, the short answer is yes. That said, upfront cost doesn’t tell the whole story. In most years and in most management systems, 1,4SIGHT’s secondary quality and water retention benefits will easily pay for the added cost of the product. At least as importantly, the fact that 1,4SIGHT carries a positive environmental record and poses no storage bin contamination risk makes it a much more sustainable – and ultimately less expensive – option overall.

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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.