Dec 7, 2023
Oregon potato researchers tackle sprouting in storage

Oregon State University researchers will use a $2 million USDA grant to help prevent stored potatoes from sprouting.


The research will focus on organic potatoes, according to an article on OSU’s website.

“The organic potato industry cannot depend on traditional chemical anti-sprouting treatments since synthetic chemicals are banned in certified organic,” Valtcho Jeliazkov, an associate professor in OSU’s Department of Crop and Soil Science, said in the article.

U.S. organic food sales surpassed the $60 billion mark for the first time in 2022, according to the Organic Trade Association. Oregon, Washington and Idaho combine to produce more than 60% of the potatoes grown in the country.

OSU researchers noted that Pacific Northwest potato cultivation is a $2.2 billion industry. Jeliazkov said the growing organic market makes prolonging potato storage life even more important, as sprouting affects marketable qualities such as appearance, taste and texture.

Traditional chemical treatments to prevent sprouting have become the focus of growing health and environmental concerns. The EU banned chlorpropham (CIPC), approved for use as a plant regulator and herbicide on potatoes in the U.S., in 2019.

Natural alternatives are not as efficient and must be applied frequently, making them more expensive, Jeliazkov said. He said his lab has studied around 200 plant essential oils as anti-sprouting alternatives.

Kyriakos Stylianou, assistant professor of chemistry in the OSU College of Science, is working with Jeliazkov on the project. Stylianou said the researchers aim to control the gradual release of the oils to prolong their anti-sprouting effects.

Robyn Tanguay, university distinguished professor of environmental and molecular toxicology in the College of Agricultural Sciences, and associate professor Lisa Truong will lead toxicity testing to determine the safety of the treatments.

The University of Tennessee’s will lead post-treatment examinations of potato tuber chemistry and hormonal balance.

Project funding is provided through the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture via the Organic Agricultural Research and Extension Initiative.

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