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Why We are Superior

undefinedThe fundamental features of AstroTubers™ (potato minitubers) emanating from the CETS technology result in a superior tuber. The AstroTubers are grown in a proprietary rooting matrix that essentially duplicates the natural field environment and is a vastly superior tuber development environment due to the rooting matrix porosity and presence of high oxygen levels. The developing tuber is a highly metabolic organ that requires availability of high levels of oxygen for effective growth and development. The use of a porous rooting matrix avoids the deliterious hypoxic conditions and their impact on root and tuber growth that are prevalent in other systems used for minituber production.

The periderm forms a protective layer of cells covering the surface of the tuber. This outer tuber layer has perforations called lenticels that allow for exchange of gases and water as well as being an opening for pathogens to invade the tuber. Tubers grown in water or a wet tuber development environment, as is the case in NFT and aeroponic minituber production systems, develop enlarged lenticels that can become “highways” for pathogens to enter the tubers. This characteristic of the tuber is of critical concern regarding field plantings because soil borne pathogens can readily infect the planted tubers having enlarged lenticels and result in death of the plant.

undefinedSince AstroTubers develop in what can be termed a normal underground environment, AstroTubers develop a normal periderm layer with normal lenticel characteristics. Thus, AstroTubers can be planted in the field without any fungicide treatment. AstroTubers have been planted in the field for over 10 years without being treated with fungicides and no negative effects have been noted on stand development.

undefinedAnother important characteristic of the AstroTubers is that they are grown and harvested in way that is similar to normal field conditions. At harvest time, the plant is in a senescent state. This results in physiological maturity of the AstroTubers as part of the senescent process. This contrasts with minituber tuber harvesting in NFT or aeroponic systems where the plants are cultured in a way to prolong the growing process so that the plants do not go into the senescent stage. This results in an “immature” minituber with potential storage and sprouting problems not encountered with AstroTubers. Botanically, the potato is a determinate plant and the NFT and aeoponic systems culture the plant so that it becomes an abnormal indeterminate plant. The CETS AstroTubers production system capitalizes on the natural botanical characteristic of potato resulting in a superior tuber.

Eliminating the possibility of carry over disease infestations

A unique feature of producing Astrotubers in the CETS phytotrons is that the environment in the phytotron does not support dew formation at any time. This lack of dew means that any spores that may be present in the growing area of the CETS phytotron, do not have a source of water on or near the leaf surface in which to germinate and infect the plant. Thus, no fungicides are necessary to control foliar diseases in a CETS phytotron.

The CETS phytotron interior and exterior walls and floor are stainless steel and consequently can be thoroughly sanitized after each harvest. The sanitizing procedures used eliminate any possibility of carry-over disease infestations from one growth period to the subsequent growth period. This feature, plus not reusing the rooting material for subsequent plantings and not recirculating the nutrient solution during the growth period, provides an optimum situation for elimination of the potential for disease infection during the production of disease-free Astrotubers in the CETS phytotrons, compared to NFT systems housed in greenhouses or tunnels.