New solution for processing varieties in store?


27 April 2022
1-MCP and ethylene can provide effective sprout control in processing potato stores, experts claim

EUROPEAN interest in ethylene use on processing crops is growing in popularity, and use of a new 'blocker' is showing positive results on maintaining fry colour, according to a Cambridgeshire agronomist and AgTech innovator.


Now well-established as a sprout suppressant, ethylene was initially launched as a residue-free option mainly for pre-pack potatoes but the de-registration of CIPC has led to increasing interest in its use in processing crops, said Simon Faulkner.


Simon, Director of SDF Agriculture based in Cambridgeshire has had several years’ experience of using ethylene as a sprout suppressant on both pre-pack and processing crops. He said: "We know that ethylene can have an adverse effect on the fry colour of potatoes stored for processing. However, these effects can be minimised with varietal choice, careful management of store CO2 levels and a gradual introduction of ethylene."


Depending on the requirements of the final customer however, even the slightest change in fry colours can affect the market value of a processing crop. AgroFresh, a global AgTech innovation leader, has extensive experience in the use of 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) as a ‘blocker’ of the detrimental effects that ethylene can have on a wide range of produce. Over the last few years, research has shown that applying 1-MCP to potato crops treated with ethylene can significantly minimise any negative fry colour effects.

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Agrofresh Technical Manager Andrea Cucchi has been co-ordinating the 1-MCP trials on potatoes: "Following lab scale trials in Europe, we have carried out 1-MCP R&D treatment on a number of commercial potato stores in the UK and the Netherlands. A single treatment is made after the potatoes have cured and before ethylene is introduced." 


Results have been impressive, with the 1-MCP treatment protecting a wide range of processing varieties from ethylene-induced sugaring. Andrea said: "The use of 1-MCP in ethylene-treated potato stores has a clear benefit on processing crops. It’s easy to apply and leaves no detectable residue in the crop, boxes or store."


Simon sees opportunities to use 1-MCP particularly on crops destined for chip shop use: "Along with careful store management, once registered, 1-MCP will be a useful tool to help mitigate any adverse effect that ethylene may have on the fry-colours of processing potato crops."


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