High rot risk means careful potato store management is crucial

Considerably higher than normal rot risk to potato crops means careful planning of lifting and storage which will be vital if growers are to maximise the tonnage of saleable tubers.

That was the clear message from UAP’s potato specialist Barrie Florendine, who warned that there was no magical chemical answer to the difficulties growers faced this season.

“The combination of blighted and rotten tubers caused by the wet season, together with warm soil temperatures and humidity, will create numerous potential pitfalls in store.

“The key is to know what you’re lifting and to get tubers dry and cool as quickly as possible. That will require detailed forward planning and knowledge.”

Crops on heavier soil or where drainage had been impeded were a particular concern and growers should record water-damaged areas to pinpoint problems for the harvesting team, he advised. Some bad crops may need to be kept separate and moved immediately, he said.

“A number of growers will need to move potatoes before Christmas, which means that anything that’s good enough to keep beyond that time should command very good prices.”

As a result, harvest schedules should be based around the best crops and a minimum of three weeks was needed between the start of desiccation and lifting, he added. “For some crops it may be longer. By this time the spores should have lost viability.”

In terms of storage, Mr Florendine had the following advice:
• Dry and cool crops as soon as possible
• Be prepared to use refrigeration
• Do not overfill boxes
• Keep bulk stores level and even to aid air flow. Avoid soil cones
• Check all harvesting and storage equipment
• Load box stores to ensure best airflow
• Sterilise grader equipment
• Monitor and record all aspects of crop activity

Click here for BPC storage advice.

Latest lifting progress and conditions here.