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
These wildflowers, planted near a California almond orchard, can be extremely effective in aiding pollinators. (Photo credit: Katharina Ullmann, Xerces Society)
Crop Protection
September 19, 2016
Grant Awarded To Rutgers To Study Pollinators
Scientist in the school of Environmental and Biological Sciences receives $2.9 million grant to research bees and other pollinators. Read More
sweet corn field shot Gordon
Crop Protection
September 16, 2016
Misconceptions, Questions, And Answers On GMOs
Industry experts respond to questions on GMO sweet corn, squash, and potatoes. Read More
(Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Citrus
September 15, 2016
What The Bayer-Monsanto Merger Means Thus Far
The deal, subject to regulatory approval, would create the world’s largest agriculture company. Read More
Split view of Monsanto and Bayer company signage
Citrus
September 14, 2016
Bayer Acquires Monsanto After Months Of Negotiations
Mega-Merger sealed with $66 billion all-cash transaction. Read More
Illustration of CRISPR-Cas9
Citrus
September 13, 2016
Can CRISPR Carry Agriculture Innovation To The Next Level?
Game-changing technology allows targeted gene modification to fight diseases like citrus greening. Read More
Giant African Land Snail
Crop Protection
September 9, 2016
Florida Winning In Slugfest Over Giant Snails
Since first being discovered five years ago, more than 164,000 of the invasive pests have been captured and destroyed. Read More
Photo credit:  Scott Bauer
Disease Control
September 9, 2016
Arizona Iceberg Lettuce Research Council Awards Grant To Focus On Lettuce Diseases
A recent survey indicates disease control and management were identified as the highest priority. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
September 20, 2016
EPA Says Glyphosate Not Likely To Cause …
Paper says herbicide not carcinogenic at doses relevant for human health risk assessment. Read More
Crop Protection
September 19, 2016
Grant Awarded To Rutgers To Study Pollin…
Scientist in the school of Environmental and Biological Sciences receives $2.9 million grant to research bees and other pollinators. Read More
Crop Protection
September 16, 2016
Misconceptions, Questions, And Answers O…
Industry experts respond to questions on GMO sweet corn, squash, and potatoes. Read More
Citrus
September 15, 2016
What The Bayer-Monsanto Merger Means Thu…
The deal, subject to regulatory approval, would create the world’s largest agriculture company. Read More
Citrus
September 14, 2016
Bayer Acquires Monsanto After Months Of …
Mega-Merger sealed with $66 billion all-cash transaction. Read More
Citrus
September 13, 2016
Can CRISPR Carry Agriculture Innovation …
Game-changing technology allows targeted gene modification to fight diseases like citrus greening. Read More
Crop Protection
September 9, 2016
Florida Winning In Slugfest Over Giant S…
Since first being discovered five years ago, more than 164,000 of the invasive pests have been captured and destroyed. Read More
Citrus
September 8, 2016
Bayer Ups Monsanto Offer
German company increases offer by 2% for world’s largest seeds company. Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2016
Getting To The Root Of Improved Fruit An…
Taking a holistic approach to soil health is a key to increasing plant vigor and yields. High yields begin with Read More
Crop Protection
September 6, 2016
Purdue Entomologist Receives USDA Grant …
The goal of the research team is to help growers of cucurbits achieve effective pest control while protecting honeybees and other beneficial pollinating insects. Read More
Crop Protection
September 3, 2016
Dickeya dianthicola: A New Threat To Po…
The disease, identified in Maine in 2014, has caused significant losses in potatoes on the Eastern Seaboard. Read More
Crop Protection
September 1, 2016
Strategies To Control Wildlife On Your F…
Techniques to keep animals off your farm and away from your crops include scare tactics and habitat management. Read More
Crop Protection
August 30, 2016
New Biopesticide Available From BioWorks
Mycoinsecticide has quick knockdown effect and multiple modes of action. Read More
Citrus
August 30, 2016
Monsanto And Bayer Merger Talks Advancin…
Sources say companies have addressed initial issues from initial conversation. Read More
Crop Protection
August 25, 2016
Better Biocontrol Options Becoming Avail…
New bio-based solutions to effectively control weeds and pests are cropping up. Read More
Crop Protection
August 15, 2016
New Study Shows Neonicotinoids Pose Litt…
Washington State University researchers reveal the controversial pesticides aren’t dangerous for bees in the real world. Read More
Crop Protection
August 14, 2016
Improving Drought Resilience And Reducin…
Soil health experts gain ground on standardized measurements and identify future research needs. Read More
Crop Protection
August 5, 2016
How To Control Allium Leafminer, A New I…
First spotted in Pennsylvania in December 2015, the pest has targeted onion, leeks, chives, garlic, and other allium species. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]