For the last month, I’ve been receiving calls from growers scrambling with piles that are already sprouting. I’m not talking about one or two calls, or about growers who are reporting a peep here and another there. I’m talking many calls and from growers who opened their storage doors to see one- and two-inch sprouts across their entire piles as early as mid-October.
Sprouting anytime during storage should be viewed as dollars evaporating. Sprouting this early means growers will have to move those potatoes much sooner than they likely planned, and they’ll be fighting the pile constantly until they can get the tubers shipped.
In big part, the sprouting issues are due to variety. Today’s newer varieties, while miles better from agronomic and quality standpoints, don’t hold a candle to Russet Burbanks’ natural dormancy capacity.
BUT… (and please know that, when I say this, I absolutely understand how stretched potato producers are during harvest), early dormancy break is also about management.
In years past, producers could more often get away with filling a storage, closing the doors, and ignoring the pile until the rest of harvest was complete. In fact, when CIPC was the only sprout control option, producers had no choice but to wait until after suberization to apply a sprout control product.
That’s not the reality today.
New variety potatoes and tubers harvested under moisture or temperature stress should be expected to sprout sooner. Luckily, there’s a product to help. 1,4SIGHT, which can be applied right at bin closure, is the only true dormancy enhancer available in North America today. Whereas CIPC exclusively suppresses sprouting, 1,4SIGHT triggers enzymes that keep tubers dormant. Additionally, 1,4SIGHT limits water loss and helps maintain tubers’ overall health and ability to repel fungal attack. It also happens to be a greener, more sustainable bio-control.
In piles planned for short storage, 1,4 SIGHT is a highly effective stand-alone right at bin close-up. In piles planned for longer storage, 1,4SIGHT can be applied at closure and then followed with a later application of 1,4SIGHT, CIPC or a combination of the two after suberization.
Despite the high number of calls I’ve received from producers looking for help rescuing their sprouting piles, this year was actually a good year for harvesting. Except in hurricane-impacted P.E.I., producers almost right across the country enjoyed generally good digging conditions. If drought and excessive heat or cold and excessive moisture impact harvest next year, far more potatoes will enter storage with limited ability to maintain natural dormancy. Don’t watch your 2023 efforts sprout away: plan now to add 1,4SIGHT right at bin close-up next year.