Use of Ethylene for Tuber Accumulation in Prince Edward Island
Extension, Production and Management
Tuesday, July 21, 2020
3:35 PM - 3:55 PM
Ryan Barrett Prince Edward Island Potato Board  
David Main Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada  
Rick Peters Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada


The use of ethylene for both sprout inhibition and seed tuber accumulation has become common in Western Europe; however, this technology is not yet registered in Canada.  Two years’ worth of trials were performed to assess the use of the ethylene under controlled, plot-scale research conditions.  Seed potato tubers from a number of representative processing cultivars were subjected to a constant concentration of ethylene gas in a temperature-controlled, air-tight storage at AAFC Harrington Farm for approximately ninety (90) days prior to planting, compared with the control group of tubers from the same seed sources that were held at a similar temperature without exposure to ethylene.  Potatoes were then planted in paired blocks (by variety) in a randomized complete block design and evaluated for emergence, stem number, tuber number, and total yield according to a seed standard.  The trial was conducted at two sites.  Data was pooled from the two sites.

Among the cultivars tested, ethylene-treated Russet Burbank showed significantly higher tuber numbers and total yield versus control in both 2018 and 2019 (p < 0.05).  Ethylene-treated Payette Russet showed significantly higher tuber numbers, stems per plant and total yield versus control in 2019 (the only year it was tested).  There was a non-significant effect on Dakota Russet in both years for tuber numbers but a significant effect on average tuber size in favour of the ethylene treatment in 2019.  Other cultivars generally saw no significant effect from the use of ethylene.  No processing cultivars demonstrated a significant negative effect from the use of ethylene under these research conditions.