INSIDERSPotato Growth Regulators and Sprout InhibitorsStressed Potatoes? Consider Insurance

Stressed Potatoes? Consider Insurance


You’ve got car insurance, house insurance, hopefully some life insurance, maybe some crop insurance. What about storage-loss insurance? With challenging growing conditions across much of North America, this might be a good year to opt for some extra security.

In years where excellent growing conditions, optimal moisture and ideal harvest conditions translate to unstressed tubers entering storage, your pile might stay perfectly dormant and top-quality with little care from you. Unfortunately, this probably won’t be that kind of year for many farmers.

A hot summer across much of North America means plants have been suffering heat – and in some cases drought – stress. While a lot happens in the last month of potatoes’ growing life, yield projections already suggest total harvest numbers will be significantly down in some regions. Plants stressed enough to drop yield virtually always produce less-than-stable tubers going into storage.

Meanwhile, contract cutting earlier this spring due to COVID-19 means processors are already talking about being short of potatoes next winter. That’s a good thing in terms of salability of tubers but means farmers will want to be especially conscious about preserving full quality and volume to maximize returns and potential bonuses.

What to do? This may be the year to think beyond CIPC. While CIPC is cheap and effective, it has a relatively short application window of between suberization and early in the new year, depending on your market. 1,4DMN (1,4-Dimethylnaphthalene) offers much more application flexibility, allowing producers to support dormancy right from bin closure until a handful of days before packing and shipping.

1,4DMN is the only true dormancy enhancer available on the market in North America.  Whereas CIPC exclusively suppresses sprouting, 1,4DMN triggers genes in a potato that keep it dormant, limit its water-loss, and helps to maintain tuber health to prevent fungal attack. Growers report tubers treated with 1,4DMN at bin close-up sweat less, even after being harvested in warm conditions; have less pressure bruise; and shrink less, especially in storages with insufficient humidity.

1,4DMN can immediately help on varieties that are sprouting coming out of the field and does not harm suberization. Treatments can be done at the same time (though not tank mixed) as fogging with a disinfectant. Note that an early treatment of DMN will not last long in storage because of the quantity of fresh air being cycled through for suberization and cooling.

In a great year, treating a pile immediately post-harvest may not be necessary. In a tough year, applying 1,4DMN at bin close-up may be the best insurance investment you choose all storage season.

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.