It’s NHL playoff season, which means I’m probably not the only one with a hockey game on in the background. There have been some big-stress, big-upset games this playoff season, especially when teams have looked like they had the game in the bag… but then lost a three, even four-point lead. Tonight’s game has me thinking about what it takes to win — in hockey, yes, but in farming too.
I see the potato growing season being like a hockey team’s offence — seeding through harvest is when you’re going to score the goals and get ahead. But the game’s not won by offence alone. You have to protect your position by well-planned, well-executed defence too.
Too many farmers still focus primarily on their front line — they work incredibly hard to put quality potatoes into their storage bin at harvest, but then close the bin door and consider the game won. But here’s the thing — even a team of Gretzky’s probably wouldn’t win if they left their net wide open.
In potato production, good defence means holding onto your harvested spuds’ value through storage. Currently, most farmers still rely on a single application of CIPC to suppress sprouting through storage. Yes, it does the job it’s designed to do. That said, CIPC brings with it a mitt-full of residue, worker safety, environmental and political concerns. Too, it offers no value beyond basic sprout suppression.
I’m pleased to see industry slowly making the shift towards a much more comprehensive, effective and sustainable defensive strategy.
The strategy starts with 1,4DMN, a naturally occurring hormone in potatoes, which is sold as 1,4 SIGHT for use in processing and tables stock potatoes (and 1,4SEED for seed stock). 1,4 SIGHT is the only true dormancy enhancer on the market today. In addition to managing sprouting, 1,4SIGHT triggers fungistatic and water-loss-limiting genes which keep tubers firm, reduce the appearance of bruising, and minimize shrink.
In piles destined for short storage, 1,4SIGHT can be used as a stand-alone right at bin close-up to promote dormancy, maintain quality, and keep moisture-loss in check post-harvest. In piles planned for longer storage, 1,4DMN can be applied at close-up and then followed with a later application of either CIPC or 1,4SIGHT after suberization. Many farmers are also finding that, when applied just before shipping at the end of storage, 1,4SIGHT also helps reduce the appearance of bruises which would otherwise appear at the processor or with the consumer.
The second key part of an effective defensive strategy is a rescue treatment for when stressed tubers push sprouts. 1,4ZAP, a greener, more sustainable bio-chemical option, offers more than 95 per cent burn-back on even sizable sprouts and can be applied alongside 1,4SIGHT.
Everyone notices hockey’s fast-passing forwards whose fancy stickhandling put numbers on the score board. In comparison, hockey’s defensive greats rarely get the accolades or lime-light. But, goal scoring isn’t worth anything if your defense isn’t solidly behind you, holding onto every gain you make.