In a recent grower advisory notice, AHDB Potatoes in the UK says ‘it’s all in the bag’. The first step in preparing for seed handling and treatment is to estimate the likely period between delivery and planting – as this will determine which storage strategy to adopt. Upon delivery, it’s essential to inspect seed consignments for diseases and quality, and to make sure that what have been received indeed matches the order.
Growers are reminded that it’s imperative that seed be stored in a CIPC-free environment.
Storing for less than a week
If you are planting is within a week of delivery, seed can remain in the bag. Make sure to leave some space around all bags (15 to 30 cm) to maximise airflow, for example by placing bags on pallets and leaving them in a breezy undercover environment. Ventilation could be natural or using a fan.
Storing for 1-2 weeks
Beyond a week, the likelihood of getting condensation in seed bags increases. In this case, it is best to decant seeds into boxes. If this is not an option, you could still leave seeds in bags but close monitoring is required to ensure that condensation does not build up in the middle of the bag. If possible, store in a controlled temperature environment.
Storing for 2 weeks +
With longer term storage, decanting into boxes is recommended. Seed should then be cured and cooled down to the holding temperature. The longer the storage period, the colder the store should be for example down to 3 °C. A slightly higher holding temperature of 4-5 °C may be more suitable when storing for a few weeks.
If a seed store is not available, condensation and sprouting can be minimised by running fans at suitable times depending on ambient temperature, for example. An option to improve ventilation is to build a temporary plenum chamber for use with a portable fan (see image). Be sure to monitor regularly for any quality deterioration.
Application of a seed treatment ahead of the planting season will help control field disease. If a treatment is to be applied the AHDB Tuber Treatment Factsheet outlines the factors to be considered together with the pros and cons of any particular application strategy.