Ethylene can provide potato producers with a viable sprout-control solution in a range of situations, with one large potato processing company already using an ethylene delivery system in all of its medium- to long-term stores. Adam Clarke of Farmers Weekly in the UK reports.
Ethylene is a naturally occurring plant growth regulator and, when maintained at suitable levels in store, inhibits the elongation of sprouts.
But like other sprout-control options, it has not gained a strong foothold in the market because of the availability, efficacy and low cost of CIPC treatments over many years.
There has also been the worry that ethylene has a negative impact on processing quality, with treatment potentially giving rise to increased reducing sugars and as a result, darker fry colour.
There is a perception that because ethylene is a gas it is completely unsuitable for use in old, leaky stores, as storekeepers are unlikely to be able to maintain suitable concentrations for adequate sprout control.
On the issue of cost, ethylene is now a much more attractive option for sprout suppression for long-term storage, with spearmint oil and DMN (dimethylnaphthalene) much more costly on a per-tonne basis.
Dutch company Restrain offers a portable plug-and-play generator that turns liquid ethanol product Restrain Fuel into ethylene gas. The Restrain system