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Storage Bulletin - December 2010

15 December 2010

Growers are urged to check their crops in store carefully to ensure they are not suffering from the current cold weather.

 
Most stores are well insulated to help isolate the storage environment from the impact of the conditions outside. But stores should be checked for any leakage or spots where cold air may get inside the building. Even small gaps in the insulation ‘envelope’ can lead to localised chilling, especially when there is wind pressure to assist the penetration of cold into the store.
 
Cold weather heightens the risk of condensation in the roof of the store as the warm, high humidity air coming from the crop will condense on the cooler roof above.  Processing stores are most at risk. Condensation can be managed by using roof space heating if this fitted or a combination of heaters and air movement in the roof space.
 
Temperature gradients will also be created in store by cold weather so there is a greater risk of condensation within the crop. Use of recirculation can help to alleviate this.
 
Where ambient air is used for ventilation, check that the louvres are opening and closing correctly. Ice can often form around louvres and result in them sticking. A stuck-open louvre could have catastrophic effects at this time of year… Speaking of which, double check that there is a back-up thermostat covering the air delivery that will shut down the fan in case of a problem where air that is too cold risks being blown into the crop. This override thermostat should be entirely independent of the control system to guard against any faults with dodgy sensors or similar.
 
Cold air will usually also affect the flushing of stores. Those using manual flushing must take care to balance the need for fresh air with the risk of chilling. Automated flush systems should have a minimum temperature set for air delivery in the duct, but remember that, in very cold weather, this may mean there is little or no mixing of ambient air taking place.
 
Fry colours should be tested regularly to identify any impact of the cold conditions on market acceptability. If quality has been affected it may be possible to take some corrective action by conditioning the crop; it is recommended to seek the agreement of your market and specialist advice before doing so. You can call SBCSR free on 0800 02 82 111 for assistance.
 
CIPC timing is critical to get the most from this important chemical.
 
Sprout control treatments should be have been applied by now. Please see the accompanying article at the end of this bulletin on timing of CIPC application for further guidance.
 
Energy & sprout suppression on the agenda for our storage forum.
 
Thursday 3 March is the date for your diary when we will be holding our winter storage forum at Sutton Bridge. Half of the day will be devoted to energy management, the other half to sprout suppression. Further information will be released shortly; please register your interest by emailing mkotecha@potato.org.uk.
 
Bookings now being taken for store management training.
 
The PCL Store Managers’ Course is being held at Sutton Bridge on Thursday 17 and Friday 18 February 2011. Contact Kate Balloch for details, email kballoch@potato.org.uk.
 
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