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Storage Bulletin - September 2012

Publication Date: 
6 September 2012


The AHDB Potatoes team at Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research suggest some key actions to deal with the challenges facing potato growers this autumn:
Make a plan…

Good planning plays an important role in any storage season; this year it will be critical. Think about matching stores to similar varieties and crops of similar risk by making some assessments of quality ahead of harvest and burn off accordingly. Second growth and hollow heart have been reported widely so need to be watched for.

Harvest will be around 3 weeks later than usual so be prepared to deal with periods of wet or cold weather and any consequences, such as a higher risk of bruising.  In view of the crop condition, consider the likely storage duration and any chemical use. If short term storage is needed, ensure there is no risk of CIPC contamination of other crops if there is a need to use buildings where other crops are normally stored. Overall, try to minimise risk by using your most efficient stores for those crops being held longest and ensure those stores have been serviced before use to reduce the risk of a costly failure during the season.

Ensure skins are set

Ensure the crop is suitable for storage before loading. The late season will make skin set more difficult to achieve yet an intact tuber skin is key to maintaining the potato’s integrity in storage as it offers the barrier to moisture loss and disease ingress. Look out for diseases which could have already compromised the crop such as blackleg, pink rot or tuber blight; levels are higher this year than for many years.

Load quickly

Once loading is underway, bring the crop under control through use of ventilation and aim to fill the store as quickly as possible. Try to match the crop temperature to the ambient condition to minimise the risk of condensation. Warm air and cooler potatoes usually result in the crop getting wet and free moisture usually only makes matters worse.


It is essential to manage the store to keep the crop dry. Fill the store to make the best possible use of the air. If drying or cooling is needed, use the maximum amount of ventilation available. For a store to work, the air must be able to circulate without being impeded. Don’t overfill the store or block pallet slot ends. These airways (and, in bulk stores, the laterals) need to be kept clear and air has to have free access in and out. Always remember that air takes the path of least resistance and, if this means it doesn’t need to pass through the crop, it won’t be doing any good.

Keep temperatures even

A uniform temperature minimises the risk of condensation and offers the best chance of keeping the crop at its best for market. Be prepared to deal with periods of cold or warm weather which might affect this. Keeping the temperature in the store roof-space close to that of the potatoes is also important to control sub-surface condensation in an uncovered crop. Electrical heaters and/or roof fans can help to reduce the risk of condensation on the roof.

Be timely with sprout suppression

Plan your sprout suppression policy and be ready to act quickly. With CIPC, make sure you don’t leave the first application too late and risk dormancy break (it’s OK to apply when crops are still warm and in pull-down). This season all stores must be assessed before CIPC is used: download a checklist from or call 0800 02 82 111. This is the responsibility of the crop owner to meet Red Tractor Farm Assurance, not your contractor.

Prior to application of CIPC, make sure that cooling is switched off overnight and air is recirculated to get the crop temperature as even as possible before treatment. Adhere to the usage limits: 36g/t for fresh and 63.75g/t for processing crops.

If you use ethylene, refer to your system supplier for detailed advice on timing and ethylene levels from start up.

Don’t forget fresh air

Potatoes are living and breathing so they need oxygen. Whilst there is a need to control the storage environment, this should not deprive the crop of fresh air. The store should be vented in a regulated way. This may be by regular flushing in a processing crop but in a refrigerated seed or ware store, measures to introduce fresh air manually may be needed.

Inspect frequently

Some crops this year will be marginal in terms of their suitability for storage. If a crop has signs of rot in it, its condition could change very fast so it is essential to inspect the store frequently (daily at first) and be ready to act.

Storage should always be undertaken with a specific market in mind, so it is important to sample regularly (every month or so) and run a QC check to make sure the crop is continuing to meet the market specification. If unforeseen changes are taking place, take corrective action quickly (call the team at Sutton Bridge for advice on 0800 02 82 111) before the crop becomes unsaleable and costs have exceeded the likely return.

Further information

FREE storage advice 0800 02 82 111 or
CIPC Best Practice


Please see  or call 0247 647 8782 for further information.

North West Potato Day, Aston Grange, Runcorn, Cheshire WA7 3DG. 18 September, 3.30-8pm

Seed Industry Event 2012, Crieff, Perthshire. 20 November. 10am-5.30pm + Dinner

Storage Day, Sutton Bridge CSR, Lincs. 29 November, 10am-4pm
A practically-focused day for growers and agronomists to benefit from the latest research and advice where experts will discuss key crop storage challenges and provide guidance on how to get the best from your storage. Seminar programme and panel discussions with key supply chain representatives. Trade stands and sponsorship opportunities still available. BASIS & NRoSO accredited. Evening reception with speaker on 28 November.
See the event webpage at the address above for a prospectus and more details.

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