You can use ethylene to prevent potato germination. That's nothing new. This technique has been used since 1999. The CIPC ban, however, means many more potato growers will have to use alternatives. But new methods and substances require a slightly different approach. That sometimes takes some getting used to. That's why Restrain explains the use of ethylene in an online webinar. The Dutch company also answers the most pressing questions.
Dirk Garos explains how to use ethylene.
The keywords in using Restrain? Patience and ventilation, says Dirk Garos. He's been actively marketing this ethylene-using system for 14 years. "You only start using ethylene once the potatoes are in storage. It's vital that the batch of stored potatoes is well-rested and dry before applying Restrain. "
"Their CO2 content must be below 2500 ppm. Also, the temperature has to be below ten degrees Celsius. If you haven't yet reached those values, please be patient. You shouldn't begin using ethylene too soon. The CO2 and ethylene will reinforce each other. That creates a vicious circle, resulting in a lot of weight loss."
Having adequate ventilation can reduce the storage space's CO2 levels. "I generally recommend you first mix the internal air for at least an hour every 24 hours. That allows air circulation in the shed. Immediately afterward, you should allow another hour of external air to circulate. That removes the CO2. We call this the 1 + 1 method. It gives you the best result. Don't worry if your potatoes are already sprouting," continues Dirk.
"Restrain blocks those after a few days. It remains on the potatoes during the entire storage period. When you remove the sprouts at the end, they simply break off. Once you deliver the potatoes to the buyer, there won't be any sprouts. We don't burn them off, as is the case with other sprout inhibitors. As a result, the potatoes' skin quality is better, with no ugly scorch marks."
Low CO2 levels are especially important for potatoes destined for the processing industry. "Too much CO2 causes the starch in the potato to convert faster into sugars. And too-high sugar levels in potatoes cause caramelization when you bake them. That results in brown fries. The industry doesn't want that," continues Garos.
"It's less of a problem for ware potatoes. With Restrain, we mainly focus on the Agria, Fontane, and Marquis potato varieties. These are intended for the processing industry. We can also treat other varieties. But we only do so with clients who have several years of experience with Restrain already."
Restrain has also considered the economic aspect for growers using ethylene. "We used to start right away at 20%. Now that's four percent," explains Dirk. "Precise measurements and new varieties have shown we can use ethylene at a lower level. That also allows for savings."
Farmers don't have to concern themselves with all the monitoring information needed for storing potatoes either, concludes Dirk. Restrain systems include the necessary sensors and generators to keep track of and monitor all that.
Do you want to know more about using Restrain in potato storage? Then you can follow a Restrain online course about the use of this germination inhibitor. It only takes ten minutes. It consists of seven videos and a few questions. On completion, you will receive a Restrain certificate.