Maintain Quality In Potato Storage

Potato growers can do themselves a favor if they keep in mind that their crop will not get better in storage.

Because of that, Phillip Nolte, University of Idaho Extension seed potato specialist, says the biggest influence on how good your crop is coming out of storage, is how you handled it when it went in.

“Probably the most important thing you can do is to avoid damage in harvesting, handling, and loading into storage,” he says.

Avoid damage in harvesting, handling, and loading into storage as Pythium leak, one of the most feared diseases, needs a wound to enter the tuber. This disease can wipe out a cellar in a week.  Photo credit: Phil Nolte
Avoid damage in harvesting, handling, and loading into storage as Pythium leak, one of the most feared diseases, needs a wound to enter the tuber. This disease can wipe out a cellar in a week.
Photo credit: Phil Nolte

For example, one of the most feared diseases, Pythium leak, needs a wound to enter the tuber. Usually, it becomes a problem when combined with heat — the disease needs heat to thrive — so warm, dry, chunky soils can damage the spuds.

“That’s a bad disease — it will take out a cellar in a week,” he says. “But diseases are favored greatly by wounding and bruising.”

To avoid the damaging effects of heat, harvest when the pulp temperature is below 60°F. That can mean stopping harvest at about 1 p.m. or 2 p.m., especially if the pulp temperatures are getting too high, says Nolte, no matter how badly you want to finish harvest.

“The guys who run into trouble are the guys who are too eager and want to be the first to get their crop out,” he says.

Piled High
Another reason it’s critical to store quality potatoes is because today they are often piled high — sometimes as high as 22 feet. With that kind of pressure, you need an extremely clean cellar and great air flow, but even with that, you’ll need a quality crop. If you have potatoes you anticipate might cause a problem, Nolte advises harvesting them last.

A lot of cellars don’t have back doors, so by harvesting them last, you can store them closer to the door. “Always put problem lots in places that can be easily accessed,” he says.

That said, Nolte emphasizes that a cellar is not a hospital. Some lots, he says, should not be brought into the cellar, where they can cause even more problems.

“If they are really a problem, don’t store them at all,” he advises. “Just harvest them and leave them on top of the soil so Mother Nature can go to work on them.”

Keep A Close Eye
Bringing problem potatoes into storage can cause problems for otherwise quality potatoes because you can create “hot spots,” says Nolte.

“Once you get something going bad in storage, even if you’ve got good cooling and air movement, soft rot bacteria can create their own heat — thus the term ‘hot spot,’” he says. “You can end up with a problem that will really take off.”

The upshot is you have to make sure you know exactly what’s going on with your crop, carefully tracking it after harvest.

“Monitor your crop and know what’s in there,” he says, “because once you store it, it’s not going to get better.”

This means that there are times when growers are going to be forced to make tough decisions regarding their crop.

“It all goes back to storage being a hotel not a hospital,” he says. “The longer you hang onto potatoes, the greater the chance for a problem. Sometimes you have to cut your losses and take what you can get now, or you may end up with nothing.”

Editor’s Note: Some of the information for this story is based on a paper authored by Nolte and two University of Idaho Research and Extension colleagues, potato specialist Nora Olsen and potato pathologist Jeff Miller.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

Crop Protection Stories
Common smut of corn
Disease Control
July 19, 2016
Open Your Eyes To Common Smut In Sweet Corn
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this formidable fungus. Read More
Downy-Mildew-Cukes-by-Clemson
Crop Protection
July 18, 2016
Early Infection Of Downy Mildew Confirmed In Michigan Cucumbers
The pathogen has been confirmed in Michigan cucumbers in Bay County for the 2016 season. Read More
Newer strains of potato virus Y spread by aphids cause damage to the flesh of the tubers. Photo courtesy Washington State University
Crop Protection
July 18, 2016
Potato Growers: Be On The Lookout For New Strains Of Potato Virus Y
Standard measures have been typically less effective against new strains. Read More
fanned out 100 dollar bills
Citrus
July 18, 2016
Bayer Ups Bid To Buy Monsanto
Reports indicate new offer at nearly $65 billion. Read More
Dickeya early symptoms for web
Crop Protection
July 13, 2016
Dickeya: A New Potato Disease
The disease caused big losses last year; growers need to check fields for symptoms. Read More
Whiteflies on a leaf
Fruits
July 11, 2016
Exotic Whitefly On The Move In Florida
Reports confirm notorious Q-biotype species is now present in eight counties. Read More
(Photo credit: Nancy Bosold, Horticulture Educator, Penn State Extension)
Apples & Pears
July 8, 2016
Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine Expands In Pennsylvania
More townships added as small populations of the pest are found in municipalities adjacent to previously quarantined areas. Read More
The Latest
Crop Protection
July 25, 2016
Study: GMO Ban Would Hurt Economy And En…
Food prices and greenhouse gas emissions would rise, according to paper by Purdue University agricultural economist. Read More
Crop Protection
July 25, 2016
Organic Insect Control Product Available…
The mycoinsecticide is EPA registered and controls a variety of insect pests. Read More
Crop Protection
July 18, 2016
Early Infection Of Downy Mildew Confirme…
The pathogen has been confirmed in Michigan cucumbers in Bay County for the 2016 season. Read More
Crop Protection
July 18, 2016
Potato Growers: Be On The Lookout For Ne…
Standard measures have been typically less effective against new strains. Read More
Citrus
July 18, 2016
Bayer Ups Bid To Buy Monsanto
Reports indicate new offer at nearly $65 billion. Read More
Crop Protection
July 13, 2016
Dickeya: A New Potato Disease
The disease caused big losses last year; growers need to check fields for symptoms. Read More
Crop Protection
July 8, 2016
Public Policy Decisions And The Influenc…
EPA needs to get back to using solid science and avoid bending to popular opinion. Read More
Crop Protection
July 6, 2016
Abiotic Issues Affect Vegetable Producti…
Although most issues you face are biotic, abiotic issues can greatly impact vegetable crop yield and quality. Read More
Crop Protection
July 6, 2016
Crop Production High Tunnel iBook Now Av…
The book is designed to help growers who are beginning high tunnel production. Read More
Crop Protection
June 23, 2016
Scientists Selected To Work On Healthy H…
The four-year, $1 million program has a goal of improving the health of honeybee colonies. Read More
Crop Protection
June 15, 2016
Robotic Weeder Makes Its Debut
Developed in France, the autonomous, electric-powered, lightweight machine doesn’t compact soil and operates for up to eight hours. Read More
Citrus
June 14, 2016
Monsanto Rejects Second Bid From Bayer
Wall Street Journal reports Monsanto seeks bid increase from Bayer. Read More
Crop Protection
June 6, 2016
Bayer Teams Up With Aerospace Company To…
Collaboration with Planetary Resources is designed to arm growers with information to save water, etc. Read More
Crop Protection
June 6, 2016
Tessenderlo Kerley Opens Research And In…
Farm will allow company’s Crop Vitality division to try out materials under real world conditions. Read More
Crop Protection
June 5, 2016
How To Manage Consperse Stink Bug In Tom…
Tips to control the pest include pheromone traps, sanitation, and site selection. Read More
Crop Protection
June 3, 2016
Stockton Group Puts Stock In Crop Protec…
Industry veteran hired to help bolster global biopesticide business. Read More
Citrus
June 1, 2016
Groups Make Push To Challenge DuPont, Do…
Letter from industry organizations say proposed merger could hinder innovation, raise prices, and reduce choices. Read More
Crop Protection
June 1, 2016
5 Major GMO Myths Debunked
Disproving the myths associated with the technology and highlighting lesser-known truths may help improve public reception. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]