Review on the use of ethylene for sprout control in potatoes (2006)


Sprout growth suppression with ethyene was first reported in the 1930s, some time after the publication of its sprout promoting properties. These apparently contradictory effects can be explained simply in terms of ethylene management, with temporary exposure resulting in a ‘dormancy-breaking’ effect. Extended exposure can also result in dormancy break, but with actual sprout growth inhibited when ethylene is maintained at a sufficient concentration.

Commercial potato storage using ethylene as a sprout suppressant was introduced in Great Britain in 2001. A commodity approval controlling its use in the UK on potatoes was published in 2003. The target headspace ethylene concentration, for potato storage, was 10ppm. In May 2006, this was increased to 50ppm. 

The review was commissioned to provide a summary of the knowledge on the efficacy and attributes associated with use of ethylene and to document commercial experiences arising from its use at the time (2006).

Project code:
01 May 2006 - 30 June 2006
Project leader:
Sutton Bridge Experimental Unit


R279 Research Review Ethylene