INSIDERSPotato Growth Regulators and Sprout InhibitorsUltra-early Sprouting is a Storage Nightmare

Ultra-early Sprouting is a Storage Nightmare


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.

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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.