Discover a Whole New Field

The Tools to Grow: Reduce Seed Production Cost with Phytotrons and AstroTubers

undefinedA common theme in today’s potato industry is that the key to the future lies in improved varieties. One drawback to the production of new potato varieties is the length of time it takes to produce commercial quantities of high quality seed as well as the associated costs.

One company that is working hard to shorten the time it takes to produce new varieties along with decreasing the costs, is CETS Tech, LLC of Sussex, Wisconsin.

Janina Petrick, CEO of CETS says that one phytotron chamber, which costs approximately $40,000, can produce 10,000+ AstroTubers (a new type of minitubers) per year. Some simple math shows that such an investment can provide a quick turn-around.

undefined“For ten phytotron chambers your investment would be $400,000,” said Petrick. “One phytotron would be used to produce the mother plants which are the source for cuttings which can then be used to produce 10,000 AstroTubers (one-half inch to one inch in size) in each of the nine other phytotrons in one year,” said Petrick. “The first year in the field you would have 90,000 minitubers, which could be used to plant six acres (15,000 minitubers per acre). The harvest from those six acres would be about an average of 400 cwt./acre, for a yield of 2,400 cwt. Those tubers can then be planted on 60 acres, and the resulting yield would be about 24,000 cwt. If you sold that disease-free, clean seed at $25/cwt., you would gross $600,000.”

The other costs associated with AstroTuber production are minimal. Some of those associated costs would include the following: Storage refrigerator - $3,000.00; Accessories, such as a PH meter and reverse osmosis for water - $2,000.00; electricity of 1680 kwh during 60 days of production - $6,000; nutrients - $600; rooting media - $2,500; tissue culture plantlets (150 test tubes for one year of production) - $150; and one year of labor for one person at four hours/day plus an additional person for five hours at planting – cost varies.

undefined“Our cutomers have been very pleased with the fast turn-around time on their investment,” said Petrick. “There are not many new businesses that can show a profit within the first three years, but AstroTuber production can do that.”

Shawn Bula, Farm Manager of Bula-Gieringer Farms, raises 9,000 acres of potatoes and vegetables in Adams County (Wisconsin). He has been using AstroTubers for several years now and reports good quality and yields.

“We have planted field-year one and field-year two AstroTubers on our farm, and they perform as well or better than any other potatoes on our farm,” said Bula. “Depending on the planting date, our AstroTubers yield between 385 and 485 cwt/acre.”

Bula has AstroTubers of Snowden and White Pearl varieties, and says their yield and quality is comparable to those same varieties produced with conventional seed potatoes.

undefined“The yield of the AstroTubers is average to above average compared to conventional Snowden and White Pearl,” he said. “Their sugar content and fry quality are also very good.”

Evgeniy Latkin, a potato grower in the Nizniy Novgorod region of Russia has seen great success with his use of phytotrons and AstroTubers.

“Our potato yields were 400 cwt. per acre this year,” said Latkin. “We have been very pleased with both the yield and quality of our potatoes produced in this manner. The phytotrons and AstroTubers have definitely paid off for us.”

“I suggested to my good friend, also a potato grower, to buy CETS technology,” Latkin stated.