Oregon State University researchers have received a two million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study ways to stop the sprouting of organic potatoes in storage which is a major part in the $2.2 billion market for potatoes that is booming in the Pacific Northwest.
The problem is finding efficient and affordable alternatives to chemical-based treatments that are conventional which are not favored and criticized by as the European Union and the organic market. Organic food sales surpassed 60 billion dollars across the U.S. last year, the need for environmentally sustainable options is increasing. Valtcho Jeliazkov, a member of the OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences, pointed out the shortcomings of natural ingredients in terms of efficacy and costs compared with synthetic chemical.
The team of researchers is studying the properties of 200 different plant oils. the anti-sprouting qualities they possess as well as the University of Tennessee is collaborating in evaluating the effects of tuber reaction to treatments developed by OSU. The organic market is growing and the cost of storage loss and spoilage longevity becomes more important to the industry of organic potatoes as sprouting adversely affects quality, appearance, texture and ultimately marketability.