Keep an eye out for diseases
Diseases continue to be an issue across the country, with reports coming in of soft rot and pink rot.. There have also been reports of tuber blight, despite a low risk blight season. The high temperatures that persisted into October have helped to drive this along with problems with stolon detachment that have left points of ingress for the pathogens. Delayed harvest due to slow skin set means that potatoes are being loaded with higher moisture levels, meaning greater risks of disease development in stores. As Dr David Cooke, research leader at the James Hutton Institute, highlighted in a recent update on the Fight Against Blight campaign, there is no room for complacency later on in the growing season. Growers and store managers should therefore remain alert to the threat of these diseases causing problems in store.
Regular inspections will help to flag up signs of rotting and breakdown such as smell and ‘leaking’. If you spot any of those signs, make sure to take samples from all around the store and use the AHDB Potatoes Pests & Diseases Tool from our online toolbox for identification.
To decrease the chances of disease development in store, it is crucial to effectively control condensation by minimising temperature differences between potatoes’ surface and ambient air in stores. As temperatures continue to drop at night, a difference of as little as 1 °C is enough for condensation to form. Temperature sensors placed at strategic locations in potato piles (top and bottom) in bulk or box stores will help to accurately monitor temperature differentials and take appropriate action when needed.
Also look out for structural condensation, particularly on steel roof structures as it is sign for potential problems with roof insulation, inadequate air movement and relative humidity.
In addition to insulation, warm air from roof space heating will reduce humidity and is a good way to control structural condensation. For those stores where heating is not an option, targeted air movement from recirculative ventilation is a solution to reduce condensation.
For detailed information on condensation and disease control, take a look at the Potato Store Managers’ Guide. If you would like to discuss equipment options for condensation control, get in touch with our specialists at SBCSR Adrian Cunnington or Steve Saunders. Unsure about which disease you have spotted? Speak to our disease experts Graeme Stroud and Glyn Harper. All can be contacted on the Storage Advice Line 0800 02 82 111 (free of charge to levy payers).