Reducing post harvest losses and wastage in UK potato storage due to sprouting: alternative sprout suppressants


The project was supported with funding from Defra and AHDB Potatoes and comprised 4 main objectives:

  1. Improve the effectiveness of current CIPC usage
  2. Further develop CIPC vapour as a potential sprout control method
  3. Develop an alternative or complementary sprout suppression technology based on a physical control
  4. Develop alternative chemical treatments to replace or complement CIPC

Defra provided financial support for the more strategic research (ie Objectives 1 to 3). These involved:

  1. Research to improve the effectiveness of conventionally applied CIPC by creation of a reduced scale physical model of a potato store. The model would then facilitate investigations of key parameters linked to CIPC application such as concentrations, mass flow rates, pallet arrangement, locations of air inlets and exhausts.
  2. Further investigation of the potential to develop formulations/delivery systems, in which only the vapour required for sprout control is delivered to the crop.
  3. Evaluation of the efficacy of an alternative, non-chemical method of sprout suppression (short durations of high intensity short wave ultraviolet light [UVC])
The more applied/near market research (Objective 4) was funded by AHDB Potatoes (Project R438). This involved small scale trials of the efficacy of compounds reported to control sprouting. The compounds were at different stages in the pesticide registration approval process at the time of testing. A limited number of compounds were tested in larger scale trials using one tonne pallet boxes. Assessments of the effects of the compounds on processing quality were also carried out.

A summary of the conclusions from Objective 4 are provided below. See the R438 Final Report (below) for more details.

Cultivars Russet Burbank and Saturna were held in small-scale chambers at 6°C and 9°C for periods up to approximately 3 months and 6 months, over three storage seasons. A range of compounds  were applied, as cold mists, and efficacy of sprout control was assessed in comparison with CIPC applied once, as a liquid, directly to tubers at store loading. The treatments tested included: caraway oil (S-carvone), clove oil (eugenol), spearmint oil (R-carvone), 3-decen-2-one, and UVC treatment.

CIPC resulted in effective, commercially acceptable sprout control of both cultivars, at both storage temperatures and in all seasons. Of the other compounds, over three seasons, caraway oil was relatively effective, but control was sometimes incomplete during storage at 9°C for 6 months. Spearmint oil was effective at 6°C, but sprout control was inconsistent at the warmer storage temperature.

On the basis of small-scale work, caraway oil and spearmint oil were selected for assessment in semi-commercial trials (16 tonnes, in boxes). With caraway oil applied non-positively and spearmint oil applied using positive ventilation, sprout control of cultivars Russet Burbank and Saturna was incomplete during storage at 9°C, under the conditions tested.

More information on the use of UVC to control sprouting is provided in the paper:

Cools, K., del Carmen Alamar, M., & Terry, L. A. (2014). Controlling sprouting in potato tubers using ultraviolet-C irradiance. Postharvest Biology and Technology, 98, 106-114.

Project code:
01 September 2010 - 30 September 2014
AHDB Potatoes, DEFRA
Project leader:


R438 final report