The potato industry supply chain is long, and seed quality and handling is critical for the overall success of potato producers and the rest of the supply chain.

Hort Innovation has recently funded research to assess Australian potato seed management and handling practice, review research and identify best practice to identify and document potential opportunities to improve the Australian supply chain.

Two key reports from this levy-funded project are now available: the full literature review investigating potato seed quality and handling and its impact on potato production, and the report from the project’s 2018 survey of the Australian potato industry about the same factors.

Literature review

The literature review searched sources for technical information and research papers on potato seed quality and handling, assessing and qualifying each paper to ensure that its information was valid and relevant to the review.

Since potato seed quality is affected by a complex combination of different influences, this literature review – and the papers it covers – reports on observations and conclusions that cover several topics, and discusses a hierarchy of topics to help growers best understand seed quality and sustainable productivity practices.

Broadly, the literature review covers three key areas:

  • seed post-harvest handling and storage;
  • the physiological age of seed; and
  • seed piece size and cutting.

To read the full literature review, download the PDF here.

Industry survey

The Australian potato industry is geographically diverse, supplying fresh market and processing potatoes from and to sites around the country.

Regional climate differences and the specific variety of potatoes grown can can affect supply continuity and quality, so this survey spoke to a wide range of industry members to investigate practices and factors like:

  • irrigation methods and times of production;
  • storage, storage infrastructure, transport and transport distance;
  • management and quality control systems, including generation;
  • seed cutting and seed size; and
  • physiological age and plant density.

The report from this thorough investigation maps the survey’s findings and lays out a path forward to achieve improvements across the entire potato supply chain.

In particular, the report delivers findings in the following areas:

  • Industry quality standard, disease and virus management, and innovation.
  • Communication of, and delivery to, customers’ quality expectations.
  • Managing plant density and seed physiological age.
  • Seed unit size consistency and driving down cost using lean management.
  • Relationship timeframes and supply chain length.
  • Scalability and cost-effective lean management.
  • Tools quantifying quality data and seed stress.
  • Physiological age manipulation and control.
  • Next steps.

To read the full report containing the survey’s findings, download the PDF here.
This post appeared in the AUSVEG Weekly Update published 8 January 2019. Subscribe to the Update using our online form to receive the latest industry news in your inbox every week!

PT16000 Extension activities for the Australian potato industry – Literature review and survey has been funded by Hort Innovation using the fresh potato and potato processing research and development levies and contributions from the Australian Government.