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Canadian researchers discover eco-friendly solution for potato sprouting

In a significant development for the potato industry, researchers at the Canadian University of Quebec in Trois-Rivières have discovered a promising alternative to the controversial pesticide, chlorpropham (CIPC).

The researchers discuss their work in a video published online by Radio-Canada Info. The team has been investigating the potential of black spruce extract as an effective and eco-friendly solution to prevent potato sprouting and disease development in storage.

The European Commission banned CIPC in October 2020 due to health risks, but it remains in use in Canada. The search for a safer alternative led the Quebec researchers to the Canadian boreal forest and the extract of black spruce.

The team applied the extract directly to the potato tubers’ surface and found it effectively prevented sprouting. Moreover, the extract demonstrated antimicrobial properties, potentially addressing the issue of disease development in stored potatoes.

The laboratory results were so promising that the team has moved to commercial-scale tests. The researchers compared the effectiveness of the black spruce extract with CIPC and found comparable results in controlling germination. The extract also proved effective against certain diseases, with an effectiveness of about 90%.

Before the product can be commercialized though, several steps remain – including demonstrating its safety to humans and ensuring it doesn’t affect potato quality during storage. If approved, the product could be manufactured in a new factory in Saint-Félicien, Quebec in future.

The researchers are optimistic about the potential of this product for potato producers in Canada and beyond. This breakthrough could revolutionize potato storage, they believe – offering a safer, more sustainable method that aligns with the potato industry’s growing commitment to environmental responsibility.

The research team informed Potato News Today that they would like to connect with potato growers who might have an interest to work with them on conducting field-scale trials this coming storage season. Anyone with an interest is most welcome to get in touch with Michelle Boivin at michelle.boivin@agrinova.qc.ca for further information and to discuss details.

A PowerPoint presentation of the work of the research team at the Canadian University of Quebec can be viewed here (or request a copy from Michelle if the file does not load for you).

Source: Radio-Canada Info. Watch the YouTube video here
Cover image: Credit Radio-Canada Info (YouTube video screenshot)

Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


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