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Storage Bulletin - December 2012

Publication Date: 
7 December 2012


Many crops have entered store in a less-than-ideal state due to the difficulties of a wet and delayed harvest. Under these circumstances, drying and cooling are imperative if storage life is to be preserved. The effectiveness of these processes is inevitably compromised by loose soil in the crop and so it is important to check crop condition frequently (including over Christmas!) as problems with rotting and breakdown are already being reported in some stores. High soil content is also likely to result in variable control of sprouting as sprout suppressant cannot necessarily permeate loose soil (see also CIPC residues risk below).

Any instance of damage is a potential site for bacterial infection and a wider problem with soft rot if this is allowed to escalate. Bacteria are also able to induce breakdown from blackleg in the crop and this tends to take place from the inside of the tuber outwards so is difficult to spot.

A particular issue many are having to deal with this season is management of part-filled stores. Where possible crops ought to be consolidated into as few stores as possible to maximise efficiency and control costs. If stores do have to be operated in a part-loaded state, take steps to close off areas where air short circuiting could occur. Building a wall across the store with empty boxes is an effective way of doing this.

CIPC residues risk

CIPC remains under Stewardship and its use requires full adherence to best practice guidelines – see There is no other acceptable approach. Failure to follow best practice risks another exceedance and potential withdrawal of approval.

An initial treatment should now have been applied to most crops requiring control, including those in cold storage. Whilst further treatment may be necessary in stores holding crops destined for processing, it is unlikely that cold stored potatoes need to be treated again.

Research at SBCSR has shown that CIPC decline in cold stores is extremely slow and that any perceived shortfall of the treatment is almost always attributable to poor distribution rather than a lack of CIPC in the store. Care should therefore be taken before re-treating crops as there is a risk of exceeding the Maximum Residue Level (MRL) in these circumstances.

Often low levels of re-growth may be observed in stores but these are quickly controlled by the available CIPC already in the store. CIPC prevents cell division but it doesn’t prevent cell expansion and swelling of buds can sometimes be interpreted as a need for re-treatment. David Hudson included this point and photographs of such symptoms in his talk at the recent AHDB Potatoes Storage Day. The full presentation is available at Should a repeat treatment of CIPC be considered absolutely necessary in low temperature stores, it is strongly recommended that a residue test is carried out beforehand.

  • IMPORTANT: The industry is currently liaising with the CIPC approval holders and looking closely at label (i.e. legally enforceable) amendments for both processing and fresh markets. These might be introduced for the 2013/14 season to lower the risk of a MRL exceedance, especially in box stores and may require the adoption of significant changes to dosage and/or to the store hardware. The latter could include, for example, the addition of air dividers or suction walls to ‘overhead throw’ stores, paired with use of fans, to even out airflow and hence the distribution of CIPC. As an example, an air divider - which separates delivered and return air in a store - is likely to cost between £3 and £5 per tonne. It is recommended that store owners and managers provisionally budget for such a possibility for next season; CIPC use may be prohibited without it after the ACP review in spring 2013.

Lone working

Work in potato stores often involves lone working and, unfortunately, accidents continue to happen. Here’s some reminders of important measures that need to be taken account of. Legally, employers of lone workers should:
■ involve staff or their representatives when undertaking the required risk assessment process;
■ take steps to check control measures are in place (examples of control measures include instruction, training, supervision and issuing protective equipment);
■ review risk assessments annually or, as few workplaces stay the same, when there has been a significant change in working practice;
■ when a risk assessment shows it is not possible for the work to be conducted safely by a lone worker, address that risk by, for example, making arrangements to provide help or back-up; and
■ where a lone worker is working at another employer’s workplace, that employer should inform the lone worker’s employer of any risks and the required control measures.

Practical steps

ALWAYS let someone know when entering a store and a likely time of return;
■ turn on the main lighting in the store when carrying out an inspection, especially if this is at height;
■ take a small torch in case of power failure;
■ check the phone reception in the store and, if appropriate, always carry a mobile phone. Be aware that, in an emergency, the emergency services can be contacted by mobile phone even if there is no signal from the phone’s usual network.  By dialling 999 or 112, mobiles will connect to ANY network signal.  This also applies to pay as you go phones that have no credit on them. If there is no reception possible in the store, other measures for summoning help may need to be introduced to protect lone workers.


  • SBCSR will be running its annual two-day Potato Store Managers’ Course on 13/14 February 2012. Details are available by contacting Kate Balloch at SBCSR on 01406 359418 or email her at this address:

The recent Storage Day at Sutton Bridge CSR, sponsored by Crop Systems and Restrain, was a great success. Over 200 delegates attended the event and were able to benefit from the latest research and advice as experts discussed key crop storage challenges and provided guidance on how to get the best from storage. The key seminar presentations listed below are available at
• Adrian Cunnington: Making changes with real impact on storage efficiency
• David Hudson: CIPC use under Red Tractor Assurance in 2012
• Emma Garrod: Opportunities for storage in field vegetables
Two panel debates and several practical demonstrations also featured as part of a BASIS-accredited knowledge trail. One of these was a store set up to include a number of mistakes or examples of poor practice. A graduate of SBCSR’s store managers’ course identified the most problems. As his prize, Richard Farrow, an independent store manager from Norfolk, has been offered a place on the 2013 course, around 10 years after he first completed it!

Further events are planned for early 2013:
24 January:   Winter Agronomy Forum (Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research, Lincs)
6 February: Winter Agronomy Forum (Harper Adams University College, Newport, Shropshire)
26 February: Storage Forum (The Green Hotel, Kinross, Perthshire)
28 February:  Storage Forum (Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research, Lincs)

In addition to the above, the Advanced AgriFood Training Partnership is launching its Potato Production and Management Course, which includes an advanced potato storage module. The first deadline for application is 14th December 2012. Details are available at .

Last but not least, we wish our levy payers, subscribers and customers a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.

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