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Can extracts from northern-hardwood trees become a substitute for CIPC? Canadian researchers think so

Chlorpropham (or CIPC) is widely used as a sprout suppressing agrochemical applied to stored potatoes. CIPC is particularly important for potato storage in the processing sector, where its use – on a global basis – is almost universal. In June 2019, the European Commission banned its use and potato producers had until the fall of 2020 to stop using it. Health Canada still allows its use. But, as Carine Monat reports for Radio-Canada, CIPC is expected to also be banned as sprout inhibitor by the Canadian government sometime in future.

Monat reports that teams of Canadian researchers are investigating the potential of extracts from the boreal forest in an effort to find an alternative for CIPC. Researchers, such as Nathalie Bourdeau at Innofibre and Isabel Desgagné-Penix at the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières have been working with extracts from bark, branches and needles of trees found in the northern-hardwood forests of Canada.

Michelle Boivin, a research student at the University of Quebec is working with extracts from black spruce, yellow birch and balsam fir. Since the bark has antimicrobial properties in addition to the prevention of sprouting of stored potatoes, she and her colleagues are hopeful that these extracts can be put to commercial use as sprout inhibitors and prevent some of the common potato storage diseases, in particular Pectobacterium and Dickeya, which cause soft rot, and Fusarium , which causes dry rot. But these extracts must first be tested on a larger scale before commercialization can be considered.

The researchers collaborated with Sophie Massie in Sainte-Croix-de-Lotbinière to perform tests on thousands of potatoes in Agrinova‘s research laboratories. According to Massie, “as a sprout inhibitor, the results are comparable to CIPC. An efficiency of around 94 or 95% of sprout control has been observed. Black spruce extract is also effective against certain diseases, such as soft rot caused by the bacteria Pectobacterium. We are talking about an efficiency of about 90%.” The extracts, however, are less effective against dry rot and do not work against the Dickeya pathogen.

Source: Radio-Canada. Read the full report here
Photo: A potato with sprouts burned by black spruce anti-sprouting extract (left) and an untreated potato, with visible sprouts (right) | Courtesy Radio-Canada and Carine Monat
Author: Carine Monat
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