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Storage FAQs: Top tips from Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research

Storage FAQs: Top tips from Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research

The coronavirus outbreak has completely shifted market dynamics for potatoes and has brought about many storage-related questions as a result. Read AHDB’s storage FAQs for some answers.

  1. I have had to change my marketing plans. Can I sell processing potatoes for fresh?

This will depend on variety, quality  and chemical treatment.

Assuming the variety and quality (e.g. skin finish) are acceptable to the new market (some processing crops are high dry matter so these don’t suit all uses), the main thing to check would be to ensure the crop has not received in excess of 24g/t CIPC as a total dose. Crops with this, or a lower dose, are acceptable for marketing as fresh.

Crops having a greater dose must go for processing or chip shop use to comply with CIPC label and stewardship requirements.

  1. My unloading date has been put back by my processor. What issues might I have to deal with?

First, if the store is ambient cooled (only) and fairly well insulated, a store will not normally struggle to maintain temperatures below (say) 8 °C until mid-late May. After that period, refrigeration would normally be needed to keep the store cool. So what can be done for ambient only stores?

Sprouting and quality levels would be the main concerns.

An additional dose of CIPC may be required to extend storage life, especially if temperature control is marginal. For more information on marketing limits for CIPC doses, read here.

Keep an eye out for any change in quality status: longer term storage can lead to more softening of tubers and may also result in other problems, such as senescent (old age) sweetening or higher levels of disease.

If quality permits, consider reducing temperature for longer term stored material and talk to your market about prioritising unloading of those varieties more susceptible to senescent sweetening.

Maintain a continuing dialogue with your customer will form a key part of your management of any delay.

In stores previously-treated with CIPC, longer storage will reduce the time available for cleaning and decontamination this summer. This will be a priority task however, to ensure continued compliance with new residue legislation (a new, temporary Maximum Residue Level is expected shortly) following CIPC’s loss of approval.

  1. My stores are nearly empty. What work can I be doing over the coming weeks to best prepare my stores for next season?

CIPC-treated stores must be cleaned to comply with the much-reduced maximum residue levels expected next season and a thorough job must be done to remove all potential sources of CIPC contamination. We recommend you make a start as soon as stores become empty. Wet days when field operations can’t go ahead would be such an opportunity.

If your store has a history of CIPC application, follow AHDB’s 4 cleaning steps to ensure you can remove as much of the chemical’s legacy from the store as possible and give yourself the best possible chance of complying with new residue legislation which will come in next season. 

If there is no history of CIPC application, then routine cleaning of the store will be fine. More details on crop debris removal and disinfection can be found on our store cleaning page.

As a general point, check with your local service companies on their availability during the Covid-19 restrictions. If possible, book a service early to ensure your system is checked and fully up to speed in time for harvest.  

For any questions on storage, call the storage advice line free of charge on 0800 02 82 111 or email [email protected]

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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