29 January 1999

Clean storage pays

STORING potatoes in a clean store can increase premiums by up to £25/t of ware crop depending on the season, according to research funded by the British Potato Council.

Now into its third and final year, the project aims to produce hygiene recommendations to help growers minimise losses caused by contamination from harvest onwards.

Cleaning equipment and boxes after stocks containing soft rots, blight, frosted tubers and high levels of soil is a priority, warns Rob Clayton of SAC Crops Division.

Hosing down riddles and rollers and power washing any boxes that are to be reused this year, can reduce the potential for disease spread by up to 80%. The remaining risk can be reduced further by using a disinfectant and considering the acidity of the surface to be treated, as that can affect product performance, he adds.

Dirt should be removed before it dries to prevent soil scuffing tubers and leaving them vulnerable to other pathogens such as dry rot, skin spot and gangrene.

"If the cost to clean your store properly and maintain grading area cleanliness comes to less than £8/t, you are most likely backing a winner, advises Dr Clayton. &#42