Hard work completed throughout the growing season should not be lost when potatoes go into storage. To help continue the success from the field, growers and their storage partners need to actively manage the storage systems, including the selection and use of sprout inhibitors.
One tool that is available to manage potatoes in storage is SmartBlock, a breakthrough post-harvest sprout inhibitor that effectively manages and achieves extended sprout control in stored potatoes for both processing and fresh markets. SmartBlock is new to the potato market, receiving U.S. EPA approval in February.
According to Nathan Oberg, a potato storage specialist with Agri-Stor Company, the real impact of SmartBlock is in the visual evaluation of the potatoes that have been fogged.
"SmartBlock is a powerful burner of peepers and sprouts," commented Oberg. "We have seen great results with this product on the storages we have treated. Within hours we see great results and it is holding well for late-season applications. We are excited to integrate SmartBlock into season-long sprout control programs this fall."
What Makes it Work
Manufactured by AMVAC Chemical Corporation, the active ingredient in SmartBlock is a 3-decen-2-one, a naturally-occurring molecule commonly found in yogurt, fish, mushrooms and other foods. The active ingredient is approved by the FDA as a direct food additive for use in everyday processed foods.
A 98-percent pure active ingredient, SmartBlock can be fogged directly into potato storage units, using commercial thermal fogging equipment. This sprout inhibitor is classified as a bio-pesticide and can be used as a stand-alone treatment or in combination with other sprout inhibitors.
SmartBlock does not affect skin finish of potatoes, provides effective long-term sprout control and, when used as a stand-alone product, can deliver residue-free potatoes without affecting the key quality parameters. This ensures a high-level of satisfaction in the potato supply chain from growers to grocers and restaurant managers.
The patented technology of SmartBlock works by effectively burning off "peeping," or fully-sprouted tubers and restores dormancy. Ongoing sprout control will take place for up to three months with a single application and for seven to eight months with multiple applications, depending on storage temperature.
Factors storage specialists consider when selecting a sprout inhibitor include the ability of the fogging vapor to move easily throughout the potato pile and the product's effectiveness to burn off sprouts. SmartBlock meets both of these selection criteria.
When looking at marketing opportunities for treated potatoes in storage, it's important for growers and their industry partners to know that the sprout inhibitor does not alter the skin finish and does not impact the final fry color, sugar levels, taste, texture or cooking quality. A sprout inhibitor product benefit should be that it acts only on the exposed and rapidly growing sprout tissue, and has been determined to be safe for use on a wide range of potato varieties.
"Potato storage can be very challenging," commented Oberg. "SmartBlock is a new tool that will help the industry to minimize storage losses and maximize potato quality."
That kind of peace of mind allows growers to stay focused on the field while their crop in storage brings in positive returns.