Spud Special: Don’t neglect the basics this harvest

So, with the desiccation of crops for store well underway, it is no time to sit back and think that the job is almost done. Remember, it is marketable yield that counts and a lot can happen between now and the market place, which may influence the bottom line. Do not neglect the basics – store hygiene, harvester and machinery settings and trailer operator training should be considered, regular hot boxing of samples from all points of the harvesting and store filing process will help identify points where potential bruising and damage issues may occur.

Having a good idea of biological yield also helps so that storage can be planned, it is pointless filling bulk stores too high if it is not needed and it may have an impact on air flow and ventilation capacity. Equally cramming more boxes in to store than it is designed for is likely to have a big impact on air flow, resulting in increased condensation and problems with sprout control.

For bulk stores use the following formula to establish gross tonnage:
Length (m) x Width (m) x Height (m) divided by 1.65.

Potato Council’s Store Managers Guide can be downloaded from the storage section of the PCL website; sadly, I find it excellent bedtime reading!
Yield and quality digs that I have been carrying out suggest a degree of variability in the crop, tuber number is generally high and size would be described as generally medium run. Of course there are exceptions to this, but overall I think yields are around average.

The hot weather back in July meant that most crops shut down and when they started growing again, different varieties reacted in different ways. Some, particularly those that had been irrigated have tended to continue growing and bulking, some started sprouting, resulting in chain tuberisation and some just continued producing tubers. This may have an impact on maturity, dry matter, processing and cooking quality, so when store filling it is a good idea to take regular samples and to create a store plan so that you know the quality of what is in store and where it is.

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