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Storage Bulletin - August 2018

31 August 2018



  • Storage preparation
  • Diquat doomed
  • Storage snippets
  • Events

Storage preparation

Given the dry summer many have experienced, growers may be tempted to leave crops to grow out to maximise yield this season. However, we would advise to balance this with the need to get crops of the right quality into store in best condition, especially if long-term contracts need to be met.

Achieving adequate skin set is a crucial element of storage preparation. This may be difficult in some varieties but remains important if disease is to be kept at bay and weight loss minimised. Use an effective desiccation strategy to prepare the crop for storage and plan its use around an efficient store loading plan to minimise down time and periods where stores are left waiting for loading to be completed.

Recent rain will hopefully have eased the risk of bruising, but the hot growing conditions have tended to encourage early dormancy break and sprout growth in short-dormant varieties; these will need cooling quickly or treating with CIPC early to maximise control.

The accumulated heat of the summer means that some crops have physiologically aged more than usual this summer. This has shown with both early sprout growth in the ridge (right) and dormancy break immediately after lifting (in early crops). It is logical therefore to expect an increased risk of senescent sweetening problems later in store.

With this in mind, it is worth taking steps to conserve physiological age (i.e. exposure to degreedays) wherever possible during storage.

For example, this might be achieved by using a quicker pull-down than usual or by storing at a lower temperature. The key is to monitor crops closely to ensure that there is regular assessment of quality in relation to market needs.

Some crops that have extensive sprout growth in the field will also need to be watched closely as stores are loaded. Many sprouts will break off during the harvesting process but this potentially provides a point for disease ingress. There are several reports of pink rot (below left) in the field and the risk from fungal infection will be high even if temperatures adjust to more seasonal levels, close to 15°C. Late blight (below right, with characteristic rust coloured lesions) also remains a threat in places especially in those crops which may have been infected early in the season. Disease risk from pink rot could be greatest in crops grown in fields which were waterlogged last year.

If either disease is encountered, reduce temperature as quickly as possible and maintain ventilation until the crop can be assessed fully and, if necessary, moved. See for further guidance.

Pink rot (left) and late blight i(right) nfection in tubers

Speaking at a recent AHDB Stategic Potato Farm Field Walk at Somerby Top, near Brigg, Adrian Cunnington from SBCSR reminded delegates to minimise risk by ventilating crops when they first come in store to remove field heat and aerate the stack to aid curing. He said: “Don’t overfill boxes as this constrains airflow at the most critical time for the crop. If tuber size is below average it also provides additional resistance to air penetration through the potatoes.”

Mr Cunnington went on to remind growers of the need to minimise temperature differences in storage to manage the risk of condensation. “This can be especially important when field conditions are warm at harvest and a lot of field heat is having to be removed quickly. Humidity can rise quickly as the crop is cooled and it then only needs a small temperature difference to result in free moisture being deposited within the crop” he warned.

You can help by alerting us to cases of sprouting-in-the-ridge, performance of desiccants, rates of skin set etc. by calling the Storage Advice Line.  

We can’t respond to all short messages but keeping us posted will allow us to point the team at specific issues as and when they arise”

The Storage advice is available from the SBCSR team on 0800 02 82 111. 

Diquat doomed

Despite significant dissent from some Member States, a recent ‘no opinion’ position in a Brussels Appeal Committee reviewing proposals for the non-renewal of approval for diquat (Reglone) looks set to result in the loss of this important desiccant next year. In the Appeal Committee, a ‘no opinion’ position means the European Commission is able to adopt the proposal under its own authority. Proposals can only be rejected in the Appeal Committee if there is a qualified majority vote against.

The NFU have recently reported that “It is expected that within the next few weeks the EU will officially publish the regulations banning the active. These regulations usually call on Member States to withdraw authorisations within 3 months and allow a grace period for use-up that expires within six months.” This would mean a ban on diquat use is likely to be implemented very early in 2019.

Loss of the active will be a significant blow as it is an effective desiccant which helps achieve skin set (such a key requirement for successful storage) and cuts down the risk of disease spread immediately prior to harvest.

AHDB plans to undertake some assessments of alternative desiccation solutions at its SPot Farm North within its Farm Excellence programme this autumn, alongside some evaluation work on maleic hydrazide usage for sprout control.



Chinese find novel suppressant
Potato has reported that scientists from the Hefei Institute of Physical Science in China claim to have developed a new coating that can be used to inhibit the growth of potato sprouts.
The scientists say they have developed a nanomaterial called hydrophobic nano silica that prevents sprouting and also suppresses the formation of toxins called glycoalkaloids that are typically associated with the sprouting process.

Hydrophobic nano silica (H-SiO2) was developed through the modification of nano silica by amino silicon oil (ASO). When potatoes were immersed in H-SiO2 ethanol solution, a water repellent coating was created on the surface of the potatoes, effectively inhibiting the development of sprouts and decreasing production of solanine, a glycoalkaloid found in potato that is toxic at high concentrations.

Award nominations required
AHDB Potatoes continues to support the industry’s leaders in marketing, innovation, research and development, and by presenting this award each year, it recognises the dedication and entrepreneurial spirit of those high-achievers who have made outstanding contributions to the overall GB potato industry.

Sophie Churchill, Chair of AHDB Potatoes, is a passionate advocate of the potential of the potato industry and comments: “We want to recognise and celebrate the significant achievements of those people who leave a lasting mark on the industry. People for whom potatoes are their purpose and their passion.”
There are two awards for which nominations are sought:

The Potato Industry Award
This is a lifetime achievement award - for those who have dedicated their career to the potato industry and whose efforts have benefited the industry significantly.

Above and Beyond award
Recipients of the ‘AHDB Potatoes Above and Beyond’ award can be at any stage of their career, but must have made a difference to the potato industry with a significant contribution (or contributions) in the last five years.

Further details are available at
Nick Vermont steps down
McCain has announced that a long-time supporter of SBCSR, Nick Vermont, will be retiring from its business after a distinguished 35-years’ service with the company. He will be replaced by Howard Snape as regional president for McCain Foods GB and Ireland.

Nick steps down from the role that he took on in 2004 and which, through his tenure, has grown the McCain business to be one of the country’s leading consumer brands utilising stored potatoes. Nick is pictured receiving the British Potato Industry Award in 2015. He will step down in September.

Forthcoming events

Strategic Potato Farm Events

SPot East – Elveden Farms, Suffolk
Field Walk – Tuesday 4 September

SPot North – Somersby Top Farm, North Lincs / East Yorks
Field Walk – Tuesday 18 September

You can view all of our SPot Farm events by clicking here

Seed Industry Event
15 November, St Andrews

Join AHDB for our biennial conference, which brings together a range of international experts on seed potatoes to focus on the issues that matter for those involved in seed potatoes and the supply chain.

With updates on the industry’s key issues such as plant health, exports and of course, Brexit this conference will offer a fresh perspective on international trade with speakers from the UK and Europe discussing what the future might hold for the seed trade as Great Britain begin to leave the EU.

You can register for this event by clicking here


BASIS Stored Potatoes training course 

Tuesday 20/Thursday 29 November, Sutton Bridge CSR

AHDB is organising a one-day BASIS Stored Potatoes course at Sutton Bridge CSR this coming autumn on Tuesday 20th November (with the exam on the morning of Thursday 29th). The course cost is £95 + VAT per person. The BASIS exam fee is £238 (no VAT). 

BASIS accreditation is an important qualification for anyone involved in the recommendation, management and usage of agrochemicals in agriculture and horticulture. This course is specifically designed for those working in potato storage.

If you wish to reserve a place, please contact Emma Bates at  A minimum of 6 delegates is required to run the course.

AHDB Potato Store Management Course 2019 – save the date!

30/31 January 2019, Lancashire

AHDB is organising its popular annual 2-day residential Potato Store Management Course on 30/31 January in the north west. The venue is still to be finalised but the course will be delivered by the team from Sutton Bridge CSR. If you are interested in a place on the course, please contact Emma Bates at and further details will be supplied as soon as they become available.

EAPR Post-Harvest Section Meeting –
save the date!

Tues 12 pm, Weds 13, Thurs 14 March 2019, Norwich

The European Association of Potato Research will be holding its next Postharvest Section Meeting in the UK.  Norwich has been chosen as the host city where delegates will assemble to present and discuss the latest scientific research on storage and handling. The organising committee is busy preparing the line-up of speakers and farm visits. Further details on the venue, registration and programme outline will be released in September.

Finally: A request for views

Today, government has launched an exercise requesting views on the role and remit of AHDB. Read more