Consumers will soon be able to leave potatoes on the shelf a good deal longer, with federal regulators approving a natural food additive that will keep tubers from sprouting.
American Vanguard Corporation announced that a subsidiary, AMVAC Chemical Corp., has received the registration nod from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for sales of SmartBlock, a novel potato sprout inhibitor discovered at Washington State University.
SmartBlock features a patented new class of potato sprout inhibitor technology that represents a breakthrough approach in treatment of post-harvest potatoes. The product is a naturally-occurring molecule, an U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved direct food additive and is classified by EPA as a biopesticide.
It offers a safe and comprehensive long-term storage control and requires no capital investment by customers since it is easily applied using existing equipment, note WSU researchers.
AMVAC will be selling the produce immediately in the U.S., and Canadian and European registrations are progressing.
The technology discovered at WSU is credited to Rick Knowles, chair of the Department of Horticulture, and Lisa Knowles, assistant professor of horticulture.
The technology involves application of the material after potatoes are harvested and at the onset of sprouting. In tests, WSU researchers found that one application inhibits sprouting for from two to three months.
Two or three applications can provide full-season sprout suppression, they found.
Applications, they assure, leave little residue.
The new technology is expected to boost interest in U.S. potato purchases abroad, particularly in markets with strict chemical residue limits.
Anson Fatland, director of WSU's Intellectual Property Office, says "We are very pleased to have partnered with AMVAC on this SmartBlock technology. As a result of this very productive and collaborative research relationship, additional intellectual property has been developed which resulted in worldwide patent protection."
Rick and Lisa Knowles "have been at the forefront of postharvest research of potatoes and this success exemplifies the high quality research that is being carried out by … faculty that has a significant impact on Washington potatoes," adds Dan Bernardo, WSU vice president for ag and extension and dean of the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences.