INSIDERSPotato Growth Regulators and Sprout InhibitorsWhat’s Your Tolerance for Sprouting?

What’s Your Tolerance for Sprouting?


The ‘Oh No!’ moment comes in two forms. If you’re someone who checks your storage very regularly, you might see sprouting coming on over a couple visits. If you’re someone who has a less hands-on outlook to managing your potatoes bins, or if life gets in the way and you miss a storage check or two, your bin might seem like it’s gone from comfortably resting to terrible sprouting almost overnight. In either case, what do you do once you’ve got a sprouting problem?

Option 1: Do Nothing

Many producers tell me that, since up to an inch and a half of sprouts are okay by processors, up to an inch and a half of sprouts are acceptable in a bin. Yes, processors will accept some sprouting. However, the cost of sprouting isn’t only in missed premiums or – in worst cases – rejected loads. I’ve used the analogy before that sprouts are like little chimneys, each venting out a tubers’ energy and moisture and, ultimately, much of that tuber’s salable weight. I’ve seen sprouting piles shrink by as much as 15 per cent — a huge and unnecessary bite into a producer’s returns.

Option 2: Zap ‘em

CIPC can be applied to manage sprouting up until about mid- to late-January. It does an admirable job under the right conditions, but it does bring downsides, most notably long-term building contamination and the fact that it’s the least sustainable sprout control option. Because it’s a particle that relies on airflow to move through a pile, CIPC isn’t nearly as effective in a pile that has settled.

We’re a long way past the end of January, which means CIPC is no longer a viable option. However, all is not lost: several rescue products exist on the market today that offer varying levels of control.

In terms of efficacy, the best option is 1,4ZAP. A bio-control available in the U.S. since 2016 and Canada since 2019, 1,4ZAP achieves between 95 and 100 per cent burn-back on sprouts. It turns even three- to four-inch sprouts black quickly and achieves complete dry-down in a matter of weeks, decreasing moisture loss and freshening the overall look of the tubers.

Unlike most of the other rescue options available, 1,4ZAP is safe for workers. In fact, no personal protective equipment is required in a storage building as soon as the aerosol particles are visibly settled (about 24 hours after a custom thermal fogging application). To manage peeps and extend shelf life too, 1,4ZAP can be fogged at the same time as 1,4SIGHT. Potatoes can be packed and shipped as soon as four to seven days after an application of 1,4ZAP.

Don’t let your pile’s value sprout away. Zap those sprouts!

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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.