Potato growers at Peterborough event urged to keep close eye on storage

James Lee, Greenvale's technical manager

James Lee, Greenvale's technical manager - Credit: Submitted

A focus on efficient and effective potato crop storage at Peterborough Arena attracted farmers and managers from across the country.

The new Storage 2020 event, organised by Potato Council, highlighted the importance of good storage operation to meet the challenges in the coming years.

Paul Coleman, group technical director of Greenvale, said that it was important to recognise that the GB potato industry was a mature market. Efficiency in store was a key theme and echoed by other speakers.

Danny Hewitt, of North Norfolk-based Nelson County Potatoes, and recently-appointed as a member of Potato Council, said: 'If you store, there are 'must-haves'. You need to be high-spec, with high-grade insulation and to plan for the long term.

'Even in the most efficient stores, energy costs can be significant so don't be afraid of trying new things - embrace change!'

Several speakers said that a store was not a hospital. Even the best storage regime will not help tubers 'get better' if they went into store damaged, bruised or diseased. However, managers could take steps to protect crops in storage. 'You only get out of storage what you put in,' was a common theme.

The disease and pests workshop highlighted that tuber tissue was an excellent host for pathogens.

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Workshop leader Prof Ian Toth, of the James Hutton Institute, near Edinburgh, stressed that as pathogens love moisture, it was crucial to dry crops as soon as they were loaded into store.

John Horrocks, of PepsiCo, said: 'We are managing air, not potatoes.'

Adrian Cunnington, head of Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research, near King's Lynn, which hosted the event, added: 'It is at this event and others like it where our industry challenges are identified and discussed openly.

'SBCSR has launched its new StoreCheck service where stores can have a thorough check and diagnosis to identify where further efficiencies can be made. StoreCheck is a great way to make sure your stores are the best they can be to protect your crop safely,' said Mr Cunnington.

Sprout suppressants and CIPC planning and management were key themes throughout the day.

The CIPC Stewardship Group has been working extremely hard to ensure that the legal Maximum Residue Level (MRL) is not exceeded by anyone - at all – using the product. If CIPC were to be withdrawn this would have a major impact on the wider potato industry, several speakers warned.

James Lee, technical manager at Greenvale, said: 'The risk to CIPC's continuing availability for industry to use safely in storage is not from those of us here today; it is from those in the industry who use CIPC but have never attended a Potato Council event on CIPC stewardship and run the real risk of over-application.'

n Businesses who would like to book a StoreCheck assessment should call Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research on 0800 02 82 111.