The fact that only the "right" potato is well stored, we hear constantly. But even if you grow a variety suitable for long-term storage and carefully sort the tubers before laying them in the cellar, success will not be achieved without observing the basic rules for storing root crops. In order to preserve the potato crop not only until March, but also as much as necessary (up to obtaining a new crop), you need to know the 5 main rules for storing potatoes.5 main rules for successful potato wintering
1. Careful preparation of the storage location
Not everyone can boast of having a special place to store potatoes. But no matter where they will store the potatoes (in the cellar, basement, on the balcony in an isolated box, in a pit with boards laid at the bottom, in the pantry), the place must be prepared in advance.
An approximate list of cases for the preparation of the storage location for root crops and the potato itself is as follows:
- thorough cleaning of surfaces and containers for storage from dust and debris, if necessary - whitewashing and painting;
- disinfecting treatment of walls, containers, shelves and supports with disinfectants. If earlier in the drawers of the cellar or basement there were signs of rot and mold, disinfection is supplemented by treatment with special preparations or fumigation;
- thoroughly ventilating the potato storage area after processing;
- checking the operation of ventilation systems;
- additional drying of the potato itself - callout for 3-4 hours to fresh air immediately before laying;
- providing the ability to store potatoes intended for sowing and for food, separately from each other, with the division of each "category" into varieties;
- procurement of materials for additional wrapping, warming or pouring potatoes;
- preparation of moisture-absorbing materials and tissue bags with dried herbs or leaves with volatile properties to prevent the spread of rot and disease. Bags with mountain ash, wormwood, fern, and dais can simply be laid out between layers of potatoes or placed next to each other;
- compliance with all the rules for laying potatoes for storage: without sharp jumps in temperature, with a transition period after drying and a gradual decrease in temperature in the storage place until optimal values are achieved.
2. Optimum temperature
Potatoes must be stored in a frost-free room. A drop below 0 is not acceptable for potatoes. And the more stable the temperature, the closer it is to ideal (about 2-3 degrees Celsius), the better the crop will be stored. Sudden changes in temperature affect the potato even worse than a stable, but higher temperature. Any jumps must be mitigated by additional shelter or ventilation.
The most dangerous time for temperature jumps is the beginning and end of the potato storage period. If you isolate the vegetable stores too early, tightly close the cellars, cellars, boxes until steady frosts occur on the street and the optimum temperature inside is reached, problems cannot be avoided.
If the temperature in the potato storage rises above 5 degrees, there is an increased risk of accelerated germination and decay, the storage period is reduced to several months.
For individual varieties, especially the more varied ones, very strict temperature indicators are recommended. But if in the place of storage of potatoes the temperature remains within the range from 1 to 5 degrees, then for the preservation of any variety this will be quite enough.
To control the temperature, thermometers must be installed to allow timely measures to be taken, better in several places and at different heights.Potatoes in storage should be kept in containers or crates with evenly spaced ventilation openings.
3. Air access
Air circulation, normal room ventilation and air access even to the lower layers of the potato is one of the most important conditions for its successful preservation. Potatoes should “breathe” —contained in containers or crates with evenly spaced, numerous ventilation openings providing free air flow.
It is necessary to ensure a sufficient distance between the shelves or drawers, from the walls and floor - at least 20 cm. To do this, you can install the boxes on the stands. Potatoes can be covered with additional warming only with “breathable” materials such as burlap or other air-permeable fabrics. But that is not all.
The room in which potatoes are stored must be well ventilated. Air access, exhaust openings, ventilation systems should be thought out at the initial stage of construction.
Airing should be carried out regularly, controlling the temperature and preventing the accumulation of excess moisture inside. Dampness is no less dangerous enemy of potatoes in storage than high temperatures.
Special moisture meters are an ideal option to maintain the correct storage mode at humidity from 85 to 90% with possible fluctuations up to 70-95%. It is this humidity that allows the tubers to not wrinkle and maintain taste characteristics without being covered by condensate.
Regular ventilation is usually sufficient to control humidity. If the humidity is too high, additional ventilation is installed, boxes or containers with coal, salt, and other moisture-absorbing components. In rooms with extremely high humidity, potatoes are often stored with beets, covering it with several layers of root crops on top.
4. Light protection
Potatoes should be stored in complete darkness. Light insulation is required regardless of the method and place of storage of potatoes. If the room in which the potatoes are stored is brightly lit (for example, a balcony, garage or loggia), you need to additionally cover the potatoes with special shields or opaque materials. In doing so, make sure that the air circulation is not affected. Even a simple burlap cover is a measure that will save the potatoes from timely germination and spoilage.
Frequent inspections of the crop and monitoring the condition of stored potatoes will allow for additional protection measures.
Read also our material. How to select, prepare and store seed potatoes?
5. Continuous monitoring
It is no coincidence that potatoes need to be selected so carefully before storage: sorting eliminates the ingress of even one potato with damage, which will quickly begin to deteriorate. Only potatoes in perfect condition can be stored, much less stored for a long time.
Frequent, and preferably weekly, inspections of the crop and monitoring the condition of stored potatoes will allow us to adjust the conditions in time and take additional protection measures. Timely selection of damaged or rotting potatoes eliminates large losses.
With any, even slight defeat by rot, it is necessary to remove and select not only spoiled, but also neighboring root crops.
During the potato check, you should make sure that the temperature, humidity and light protection indicators meet the optimal conditions. Monitoring temperature indoors with potatoes should be regular. Foreign odors, the appearance of midges indicate the need to inspect the tubers more thoroughly.
At hand should always be:
- containers for spoiled potatoes and root crops, which need to be eaten faster;
- pre-prepared materials for additional insulation - non-woven materials, straw, burlap, old blankets, etc.
If there is the slightest risk of hypothermia, it is better to cover the potatoes with breathable but warming materials.