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Take care about potato storage between seasons

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010
Orka Vegetable Storage
Image by aMichiganMom via Flickr

Some pathogens, such as the silver scurf pathogen, may survive from one season to the next in the storage facilities themselves. Storages and handling equipment should be cleaned and sanitized or “disinfected” after the storage is emptied and before handling and storing the new crop. Disinfection of storages and handling equipment is a three-step process.

  • Remove dirt and debris. All the disinfectants approved for use in potato storages are rapidly tied up and rendered ineffective by dirt and organic matter. The next two steps of the process will be much more effective if the debris from last year’s crop is removed.
  • Wash with soap and water. This step is often accomplished with a pressure washer and a detergent solution. Warm or hot water will be more effective than cold water. Steam washers are also a good choice but will not actually disinfect storage surfaces or equipment because the duration of the exposure to steam is too short. Water and detergent help to dissolve and remove dried tuber sap and bacterial slimes that are deposited on storage surfaces and equipment, and detergents have some disinfection capability. Cleaned surfaces allow the disinfectant, used in the next step, to work properly.
  • Disinfect. Use an appropriate and registered disinfectant and make sure that the surfaces to be disinfected remain wet with the disinfection solution for at least 10 minutes. Use sufficient sprayer pressure and volume to effectively clean all surfaces.

Many fungal spores have tough, resilient cell walls, and bacteria in storages often occur in the form of dried slime. Ten minutes provides the necessary time for the disinfectant to penetrate the fungal cell wall or dissolve the bacterial slime and kill the pathogen.

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