Potato supplier and processor Greenvale International and International Controlled Atmosphere have set up a joint company, Restrain, to sell what they claim is the first commercial system using ethylene gas to control sprouting in potatoes.
Greenvale's Nick Gilford said that the use of ethylene as a controlled atmosphere in potato cold stores avoided residues associated with chemical treatments. The alternative control use of ultra-low temperature storage was costly and could produce sugaring in the tubers, he said.
Blasts of ethylene have long been used to trigger ripening of fruit, but the Restrain company's system maintained a steady level of the gas which did not trigger sugaring, claimed Gilford. The system runs from a 13A plug and uses a heated catalyst to turn ethanol into ethylene and water, to produce ethylene atmospheres at 10 parts per million in stores holding from 12t to 6,000t.
The Restrain design and process, for which patent applications have been submitted, have commodity approval from the Pesticides Safety Directorate, said Gilford. The system has been in development for six years and Greenvale has tested it in stores for three years.
Greenvale supplies 33% of its potatoes to retailers, 18% to non-group processors and 11% to Greenvale Foods, which makes dehydrated potato flakes for products such as crisps.