Wednesday, February 20, 2019

AHDB funds increased storage support amid CIPC uncertainty

February 6, 2019 by  
Filed under Crops

Potato store managers will be able to call on support from an £800,000 fund ring-fenced for sprout suppression and storage advice as uncertainty around the future of chlorpropham (CIPC) continues.

The use of CIPC has already been approved for the current 2018-2019 storage season at the same rates as last season. But longer term use of CIPC remains in doubt – despite it being as a sprout suppressant on more than 80% of potatoes stored in the UK.

Re-approval of CIPC has suffered several setbacks. Brussels was scheduled to vote on the renewal of CIPC’s approval for use both as a herbicide and as a sprout suppressant at its December meeting – but a vote did not take place.

The European Food Safety Agency’s recommendation remains non-renewal. Renewal was set to be discussed again at a meeting of the EU’s standing committee on plants, animals, food and feed in January.

AHDB, which already invests £800,000 a year in potato storage research and knowledge exchange, has created a new ‘storage network’ of experts and advisers in the commercial sector as it continues to make the case for CIPC.

Advice and support

It follows the withdrawal of approval for popular desiccant Diquat, with 2019 becoming the last growing season it can be used. Maleic Hydrazide, a growth regulator also used for sprout suppression has been re-approved but with label changes that may reduce its use in the field.

AHDB Potatoes strategy director Rob Clayton said: “The companies who hold the licences to distribute CIPC continue to work towards its re-approval.

“We have been monitoring this situation closely for some time and supporting growers and the industry in choosing sprout suppression options during this turbulent period is a top priority for AHDB Potatoes.

“Given this uncertainty, and the challenges faced by store managers this year after a tough growing season, we can today announce we have ring-fenced an additional fund of more than £800,000 to ensure all those who store potatoes have access to the advice they need.”

Storage Network

Plans are also underway to ensure that all those who store potatoes have face to face time with a storage expert, either at an event or through store visits, explained Adrian Cunnington, head of AHDB’s Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research (SBCSR).

“During 2019, we will be making it easier than ever for store managers to receive independent advice, based on the latest storage research. Our new Storage Network project involves using specialist trainers and advisors from industry to boost the services we already provide from Sutton Bridge.

“This will allow us to share research results and best practice more quickly and harness the expertise of those in industry to the benefit of all store managers.”

Research programme

The team at SBCSR is now building on a collated a body of work over several years on all alternative sprout suppressants available in the UK, added Mr Cunnington. These include products such as ethylene and spearmint oil.

“We have already begun to build on this by diverting several research projects at SBCSR to improving the industry’s knowledge of alternative treatments, bolstering the programme of work which is already in progress.

“Our research will include treatments not yet available in the UK, in anticipation of potential future approval and an increased drive to understand the natural dormancy of potatoes on a variety by variety basis.”

Results and data from research projects will be made available through AHDB events, training courses, websites, newsletters and through the new AHDB Storage Network programme.

Dr Clayton added: “While it is still possible that CIPC will retain its approval, we have ensured that we are as prepared as possible to deliver support during this uncertain time for the industry.”

The SBCSR team can be contacted via a free storage advice line on 0800 02 82 111 to discuss alternative options and give practical advice.

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