Industry encouraged to sign up to first SPot Stores project

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20 November 2023
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"Practical activity will help growers better understand how to refine performance."

A NEW project to help fine-tune storage practices has been established by a consortium of GB Potatoes, storage specialist Adrian Cunnington of Potato Storage Insight, and agronomist Simon Faulkner from SDF Agriculture. 

Industry partners involved in the storage sector are being encouraged to sign up to the Strategic Potato Stores project, which has been based on the Strategic Potato (SPot) Farms model run by AHDB Potatoes prior to its demise.

The first grower meeting will be held in Wisbech on December 5th, and the first SPot Stores have been chosen and the potatoes loaded will be used for trials. There are also plans for an open day in May 2024. Growers and their advisers attending the open days will get to see the set-up and then return to find out how practices develop over future seasons.

Adrian said: “Currently there is a lack of practical research in storage, and very limited funding available for any R&D. However, rather than revisiting old trial results on paper, we believe that practical activity will help growers better understand how to refine their own performance. Working together to build better practice will help improve returns as we will be monitoring costs such as energy.” 

“These trials will demonstrate the contrasts of what can happen with a range of varieties subjected to different strategies, and with some of the currently available sprout suppressants.

“To be sustainable and make a realistic margin, potato stores need to be profitable, so tuber quality needs to be good and costs transparent and controlled.

“Seeing things done in a commercial set-up helps our hosts and partners share experiences with visitors who can then go home and confidently apply them in their own stores.”

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Learnings from the SPot stores will also be shared at other workshops run by GB Potatoes in Yorkshire and Shropshire in 2024.

GB Potatoes Chair, Mark Taylor, said: "At GB Potatoes we are committed to supporting work to on potato storage strategies, with knowledge being shared across the industry. Our work will focus on ‘practical solutions’ which have the potential of immediate impact. Workshops, together with demonstration sites, will bring our industry together to share best practice and consider simple changes to refine farm practices.”

In addition, PCN-resistant varieties are being stored in two south Lincolnshire stores for additional evaluation. This follows the successful first year of field demonstrations held in conjunction with SDF Agriculture and Hutchinsons. 

Simon Faulkner added: “This will assess the storability of useful PCN resistant varieties that are set to help growers’ develop an effective strategy against PCN.”

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