INSIDERSPotato Growth Regulators and Sprout InhibitorsOne More Event For Your Calendar (& Why It’s Worth Your Time)

One More Event For Your Calendar (& Why It’s Worth Your Time)


Welcome to winter… or as many of us in the potato world know it: conference month. With harvest comfortably behind us and planting on the still-distant horizon, this is the time for networking and learning via multiple conference opportunities: the National Potato Council’s Potato Expo Jan. 10-11, Manitoba Potato Production Days at the end of January, the New Brunswick Potato Conference Feb. 1, Crop Expo in North Dakota Feb. 21-22, the International Potato Tech Expo in Charlottetown Feb. 22 and 23, just to name a few.

1,4GROUP is committed to adding one more to the list. It’s one the potato industry has so far overlooked, and one that could generate really significant bottom-line results for potato producers. Since I’m a potato storage guy, you probably won’t be shocked to hear that what we’re hoping to spearhead is a potato storage-specific conference. Here’s why you should get behind the idea too.

Potato producers invest enormous effort and energy into optimizing the growing season to maximize crop yield and quality. Once their spuds hit the bin, however, many producers shift from proactive, intensive and intentional crop management to passive and reactive management. Many accept a certain percentage of shrink or loss as inevitable. The average shrink in storage is 1-5 per cent of total yield. While that might not sound like much, it translates to significant dollars: real money that can be captured relatively easy with good knowledge and attention to detail.

Loss and shrink in storage should NOT be considered inevitable. Spuds treated to effective management, well-constructed and maintained infrastructure, and the proper use of the right storage enhancement products should maintain field-fresh quality right through to shipping and beyond.

I’ve been pitching the idea of a storage-only conference during all sorts of meetings with potato industry folks. So far, everyone I’ve talked to has been keen on the concept, expressing interest in getting more up-to-speed on the latest storage research, sharing best storage management practices and – yes – putting more money into producer pockets through improved storage practices.

There’s another key factor that supports the idea of a storage-only conference: the need for proactive moves toward sustainability. As we’re seeing in almost every facet of agriculture, we have the choice to either choose change or have it forced upon us by a public and government that don’t necessarily understand the realities of production. So far, talk about sustainability, even at the Potato Sustainability Alliance’s Sustainability Symposium, has mostly focused on the growing season. A storage-only conference would give opportunity to coordinate and collaborate so we can choose our path forward on sustainability.

I (maybe unrealistically) would love to see a storage conference held next year. 1,4GROUP is willing to ring-lead, but it’ll take a groundswell of enthusiasm from across the industry to make it happen. Are you in? Drop me a line at [email protected].

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.