WITH a difficult growing season and the potential for high prices careful preparation of crops for storage to minimise losses will be even more important than normal. To ensure effective storage there are three critical areas that need to be focused on.
Diseases can come from many sources. They can be present in the soil, spread from tuber to tuber, via handling and grading equipment or even be already present in the store from previous crops. From this point of view, hygiene is extremely important. Stores and boxes should be cleaned to remove dust and disinfected before the new harvest is loaded. Grading tables should be cleaned on a regular basis, particularly if soft rots are present in the crop.
The environment in the store is perhaps where growers have most control over disease development. Most diseases, whether fungal or bacterial, will thrive in warm, moist environments. It therefore stands to reason that if temperature and humidity can be controlled in the store, this can help curb the spread of disease. A major source of moisture in potato stores are the potatoes themselves coming into the store while still wet.
Loading into store is an area where attention to detail is crucial. Potatoes going into store wet or damaged are at serious risk of reducing crop quality, health and therefore saleable yield. Where positive ventilation is not part of the store design a number of systems are available which can provide the forced ventilation needed for effective drying. Systems such as the “Wedderspoon tent” or “Pirie Boxer” are suitable for boxes, while a number of systems can dry bulk piles such as below pile ducts and pedestals.
The wound-healing period should be kept to a minimum of two weeks. Humid air in the store should be changed by ventilating on dry afternoons. Crops that contain more than one percent blight or soft rots should not be cured but marketed as soon as possible as there is a high risk of widespread rotting during storage. Following curing, store temperature should be reduced slowly by approximately 0.5oC/day to the desired holding temperature.
If possible continue to ventilate periodically throughout the storage period as a precaution against rots. Temperature in store should be monitored daily, preferably automatically, and tubers inspected and “hotboxed” to assess disease development at least monthly and any problem material removed immediately.
If you have any further queries on potato storage please contact your local Crops Development Adviser, for details contact 028 94426770.
The UFU in conjunction with CAFRE are planning to focus on potato storage at the Potatoes 2012 event at Greenmount on 28th November 2012. Other topics at the event will focus on: marketing, plant health, business management, variety trials and CAP Reform. The UFU would like to encourage as many as possible to attend as this event promises to be very informative and helpful.
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Weather for Belfast
Monday 20 May 2013
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Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 8 C to 13 C
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