Sprout control – where are we now?

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Three months on since the announcement that CIPC will lose its authorisation on 8 January 2020, we take a look at the situation for store managers as it stands.

Last season for CIPC

Stores are being loaded now, and 2019 harvested crop should be the last that can be treated with CIPC and sold in the UK and Europe.

The final ‘use-up’ date for the UK has not yet been announced by Chemicals Regulation Division (CRD) of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – though the latest date they can chose is the 8 October 2020, as set by the EU.

Nonetheless, the current Maximum Residue Level (MRL) for CIPC found on potatoes will not be in operation when the 2020 crop comes out of store in 2021.

The approval holding manufacturers are not producing products for the 2020 store loading season, and the National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) have said members will not fog stores with CIPC after this current storage season.

Therefore, all sprout control programmes should be CIPC free from 2020 store loading.

Need support planning your sprout control for 2020 and beyond? Contact the store network on 01406 359419 for a free one to one visit

Residue from stores with a history of CIPC treatment

So, when exactly will the current MRL go, and what will replace it? We don’t know yet. The Potato Industry CIPC Stewardship Group has been working with approval holders and the EU commission to recommend a temporary MRL (tMRL). This work includes demonstrating the need for this and collecting data on what the level should be. We will alert you when we hear of the Commission’s final decision on this.

Read a Q&A from CIPC approval holders on use-up dates, tMRLs and more on the CIPC Stewardship website AHDB has funded research on the cleaning and continued use of stores with a history of CIPC use. Results will be available at winter meetings, and via our website

Restrictions on the use of Maleic Hydrazide (MH) lifted

There was some rare good news for store managers in late July, when the restrictions on feeding MH treated potatoes to livestock were lifted.

Adrian Briddon from our storage research team has said: “MH application will be critical going to forward so it’s a big relief to see the livestock feeding restriction removed last month, which would have been a major stumbling block for the processors had it remained.”

We have been conducting research into MH’s suitability as a sprout suppressant.

Adrian says the results to date have been reassuring. “I don’t think we realised how much it was contributing to sprout suppression in store because it’s always been followed up by CIPC commercially. It certainly tips the balance where the CIPC alternatives (e.g. Spearmint Oil, Ethylene) are concerned.

“Work carried out at Sutton Bridge has shown that if MH has been applied under good conditions for uptake in the field, then it can give good sprout suppression without further treatment in a variety with high levels of dormancy stored at a low temperature.”

Read a review of AHDB research into MH as a potato sprout suppressant

So, what options do we have left?

There is no doubt that CIPC will be difficult to replace, and it will mean a firm grasp of storage basics and an increased understanding of the dormancy of varieties will be vital.

CIPC’s stable nature means it has a lasting effect even if stores are ventilated, and all future long-term storage strategies are likely to cost more than previous years. MH is also creates a stable effect, on a recent study tour to Europe we saw a number of commercial potato stores working well with MH and either Spearmint Oil (available in the UK) or DMN (not yet available in the UK).

In 2020, store managers will have access to MH, Spearmint Oil and Ethylene. Results from our study tours, and preliminary reports from research to date would suggest that the use of MH in combination with one of the other alternatives may provide a commercially viable option for store managers.

Read more about alternatives to CIPC via our sprout suppression series Find best practice advice on our storage hub Find your nearest winter storage meeting via our events portal

AHDB research, support and funding

In January we announced an £800,000 fund for research, events and support for store managers. Here are the key points:

Storage Network

We will fund an experienced consultant, armed with the results from the latest AHDB sprout control research, to visit your store. Significant changes in the way potatoes are stored are going to be needed in order to cope with the expected loss of chemical options for use on the 2020 crop, most notably chlorpropham (CIPC), the Storage Network is there to support you.

To book a free consultation, levy payers can call the AHDB Storage Network booking desk on 01406 359419

Summary of AHDB support and resources

Storage Network

We will fund an experienced consultant, armed with the results from the latest AHDB sprout control research, to visit your store. Significant changes in the way potatoes are stored are going to be needed in order to cope with the expected loss of chemical options for use on the 2020 crop, most notably chlorpropham (CIPC), the Storage Network is there to support you.

To book a free consultation, levy payers are advised to call the AHDB Storage Network booking desk on 01406 359419

Storage bulletin

Keep up to date with the latest storage news and research with our newsletter (10 issues per year).

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Storage hub

All of our research, guides, video and resources in one place. Read summary of sprout control options, case studies from successful comercial stores and best practice guidance.

Visit the storage hub

Winter storage meetings

Hear the results from our extended storage research programmes, and discuss your options with storage experts and other store managers.

Find your local event

Extended research programme

We have funded additional projects on; alternatives to CIPC for both the processing and fresh sectors, improving our knowledge of varietal dormancy, Maleic Hydrazide as a sprout suppressant and the cleaning of stores that have used CIPC previously.

Browse AHDB funded research projects