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Controlling storage rot with a new technology

An environmentally safe, biodegradable product that has been used for years to clean and sterilize is being used to do the same thing for potatoes. StorOx, an activated peroxygen chemistry (APC), controls tuber rot, bacterial soft rot and silver scurf on potatoes before and during storage.


April 6, 2009
By Top Crop Manager

Topics

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An application of StorOx before and during storage can help control tuber rot, bacterial soft rot and silver scurf.
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Despite the fact it is a water-based solution, StorOx does not increase the chance of rot developing.


An environmentally safe, biodegradable product that has been used for
years to clean and sterilize is being used to do the same thing for
potatoes. StorOx, an activated peroxygen chemistry (APC), controls
tuber rot, bacterial soft rot and silver scurf on potatoes before and
during storage. The hydrogen peroxide-based solution can be either
sprayed on the crop as it goes into storage or misted into the pile in
storage. “We’re finding that growers use it most often as a spot
treatment when disease is seen,” says Cliff Corby of Brenntag Canada
Inc, the distributor of StorOx in western Canada. “In the table and
french fries market, growers use it when needed in storage by atomizing
it through their ducts as a spot treatment. In the chip market, growers
use it extensively because these potatoes are sensitive to disease and
are stored differently. The chip growers put it on to the piler as the
potatoes are rolling into storage and they follow that with additional
in-storage treatment.”

StorOx’s manufacturer, US-based BioSafe Systems, reports the product is
one of the most versatile on the market because it can be used
post-harvest, pre-shipping to market and in the humidification system.
“StorOx is highly stabilized and controls on contact,” says Michael
Larose, sales manager for Canada. “This is a contact fungicide and
bactericide that will control pathogens on the tuber and can also help
seal wounds so they won’t act as a point of infection. This chemistry
is biodegradable breaking down into oxygen and water and becoming
inert.”

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According to company literature, StorOx provides an immediate contact
efficacy of bacterial and fungal pathogens and, because of its mode of
action, oxidation, it does not allow for mutational resistance. BioSafe
Systems also touts the versatility of application as giving growers
much more flexibility on how to get the best control of pathogens with
StorOx.

Corby does not see many growers using StorOx in the humidity system in
Alberta. He says, in some cases, it can be easier for growers to spray
StorOx on the crop as it is going into storage or to spot apply it when
needed. In any case, he adds, consultation with a StorOx representative
is the quickest way to determine how the product can be most
effectively applied in any system. “StorOx is an effective tool if you
want to store the crop longer,” continues Corby. “It does knock disease
down to a more controllable level.”

Ontario growers have good success putting StorOx through the
humidification system. “It’s probably more efficacious when put on
early, but a close second is through the humidity system because it is
easier to do,” says George Burkholder of GRB Technologies Inc., of
Mitchell. He explains that by putting StorOx on the bin piler, a
consistent application is required and his growers find it difficult to
maintain consistency at the busiest time of year.

Burkholder adds the challenge for getting the best control with StorOx
is to tailor the application to the operation. “Each grower has a
unique operation, so each program using StorOx needs to be developed to
work in each system.”

The nearest competitor to StorOx is a phosphoric acid solution. The two
are price competitive; however, StorOx provides value with its ability
to be applied on the bin piler and through humidification, according to
Larose. Price is not a big issue in Burkholder’s opinion because
treatment for stored potatoes can cost less than three cents/cwt and
since most crops will need up to three treatments, a full season of
StorOx will cost in the neighbourhood of 10 cents/cwt. He sees using
StorOx in storage as a means for growers to improve profit because
“growers who pay attention to storage issues can make a few extra
dollars per season.”

Corby says some growers were initially unsure about using StorOx
because it is a water-based solution and growers were worried the
addition of water on the crop would increase the chance of rot
developing. But, he adds, once a few growers used the product and then
shipped a crop in better condition than their wary neighbours, more
growers became interested. “Growers were concerned about putting more
water on their potatoes, but the water contains the disinfectant and
that is what is working on the crop. This is definitely a unique
product with a unique application.”

Corby suggests growers interested in using StorOx need to first
evaluate their storage to ensure there is enough air available to make
the product work. “Strong air is needed to carry the product through
the pile,” he explains. The product will also sterilize any
contaminated water that is in the pile as a result of rot, preventing
it from spreading disease to other tubers.

“StorOx is a great tool, but growers need to use it on a regular
basis,” says Burkholder. “Some growers think they don’t need it and,
when rot sets in, it’s often too late to fix the problem. We tried it
on a low risk bin and got two percent reduction in shrink!” As a
management tool, Burkholder believes StorOx is good value for the money.

For anyone who has ever gritted their teeth and put hydrogen peroxide
on a cut, the healing power of StorOx will be understood; however,
BioSafe Systems has developed its activated peroxygen chemistry to
provide longer stability and increased efficacy. The StorOx solution
has proven itself in multiple applications and even curtailed a recent
outbreak of pink rot in Prince Edward Island. What once was a staple in
home first aid kits is now coming to the aid of potato growers in
Canada thanks to Biosafe’s improvement on this age-old chemistry.


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