8 August 1997

Potato store tips

HIGH blight pressure makes potato store management particularly important this season, according to a Farm Electric spokesman.

Wet rots from blight, black leg and pink rot multiply fast in warm, humid conditions, warns Andrew Kneeshaw. "They will be an even greater problem if growers have to contend with wet harvesting conditions."

Fungal spread from blight can be retarded and damage minimised by correct storage, advises Mr Kneeshaw. "A one to two week dry curing period is vitally important." The key is to use lots of dry ambient air. "If outside temperatures are low, a small amount of heating could be used to help keep air dry.

"With a particularly wet crop it may be necessary to selectively ventilate areas in the store at high air flows to drive off excess moisture. It is critical to keep humidity down to prevent disease spread and tuber breakdown."

Cooling should then follow as soon as possible, temperatures being kept as low as markets demand without threatening tuber quality, about 2C (36F) for pre-packs and 7C (45F) for processing varieties. The aim should be to keep temperatures fluctuations below 1.5C (2.7F), he advises.