Potato storage

a challenging task in Germany?

There are many reasons to store potatoes; fluctuating markets, workload pressures at harvest time to name but two. For seed potatoes, there is generally no alternative until replanting begins. The storage of potatoes represents challenges to farms not only in financing and running of the storage facility but also in maintaining the quality of the store. We know for example, potatoes with high integrated water content can encourage fungal infections and the suppression of germination is also key.

In autumn 2014, Kleffmann Group interviewed 600 German farmers in regard to the management and storage of harvested potatoes. More than two-thirds of the farmers surveyed (71%) store potatoes on their own operation. Whether and how the harvested potatoes are stored also depends on their future use.

Since seed potatoes are sown usually on the same farm in the following year, it is logical that 86% of the interviewed farmers store them on their own farm. 75% of the respondents store them for ware crop consumption, allowing supply into the market over a longer period of time.

Potatoes that are used for industrial processing use e.g. fuel usage or for starch production are called industrial potatoes. 64% of the respondents state that potatoes are stored before they are delivered to the industry. 40% of farmers that supply to industry store them temporarily. [Fig. 1]

Fig. 1: Which storage system do you use for potatoes?

Fig. 2: Do you store the potatoes on your own farm?

Fig. 3: Do you use sprout suppressant products before you store your potatoes? If yes, which do you use?

Storage system

For potato storage there are various methods: The easiest and cheapest one is the “in-field stacks”, but it has some negatives due to higher risk of storage, in the open environment and the approach is limited in the volumes that can be managed. Alternatively, a much more expensive approach is with purpose built storage with loose storage, storage in heaps or storage boxes. Building storage secures “higher potato quality over a long period.1

There are just a few farmers that store their potatoes in “in-field stacks”. 22% use “in-field stacks” for industrial potatoes and 12% use it for processing potatoes. Loose storage is used by 68% of farmers with industrial potatoes and 70% by processing potatoes farmers. The preferred system for ware potatoes and seed potatoes is the box storage (83% respectively 85%). [Fig. 2]

Sprout suppressant products

Only a few farmers use sprout suppressant products. The processing potatoes are predominantly treated before they are stored. Of the respondents 43% use sprout suppressants. 38% of the sprout suppressants -users use the product Gro-Stop and 13% Gro-Stop Basis. For ware potatoes 19% of farmers use a sprout suppressant product (with 26% Neo-Stop leads the market followed by Gro-Stop). [Fig. 3] Seed potatoes were treated by 6% and industrial potatoes by 11% of the questioned farmers.

No storage

26% of potato growers sell their potatoes directly after harvesting. 31% of producers of ware potatoes supply them directly to the end-users. 25% supply their harvest directly to the wholesaler, who market the potatoes. Cooperatives store 10% of the potatoes and 6% store them on another farmer.

63% of industrial potatoes and 31% of processing potatoes are delivered directly by the farmer. Wholesales use less industry and processing potatoes than food potatoes. Only 17% of food and 10% of industry potatoes that are not stored on the farm are going directly to the wholesalers.

Kerstin Säcker / Kleffmann Group

1 KTBL, „Lagerung von Kartoffeln“, https://www.ktbl.de/fileadmin/user_upload/artikel/Gartenbau/Kartoffellagerung/Lagerung_von_Kartoffeln.pdf, 04.03.2015