Proper storage of perishable agricultural crops is essential for optimizing profitability. Agro Engineering has had a program of monitoring and evaluating storage facilities for a number of years. Shrink and diseases can significantly reduce the value of the crop that has so much invested in it already. Proper storage management and calibration of sensors can reduce these problems, and Agro Engineering can assist you with your storage management needs through two programs.
Monitoring includes weekly visits once potatoes start going into storage. We monitor potato quality and recommend storage stabilization phase temperatures as bins are filled. We will measure the airflow to each bin, estimate the cwt. per bin to calculate the CFM per cwt. per bin and storage, measure the relative humidity in the storage and plenum, determine the pile gradient between top and bottom pile temperatures, and give recommendations on plenum set point temperature during the cool down and holding periods. Recommendation on run times and holding temperatures for the holding period will be given as the potatoes are brought to holding.
During this storage period we would visit the storage once a month during the months of December, January, February, and March. We will measure the relative humidity in the storage and plenum, determine the pile gradient between top and bottom pile temperatures, give recommendations on plenum set point temperature, and give recommendations on run times for potato pile temperatures and weather conditions for the month. During each visit we do a complete infrared scan of the potato pile surface for each bin in the storage to monitor hot spot if they develop.
Proper temperature, airflow, and humidity management of the tuber pile is essential for disease and shrink management. The guidelines for these three factors change during the four stages of potato storage management - removal of field heat, suberization, cool down, and holding period. Problems with pile airflow can lead to blackheart, pressure bruises, and shrink. Humidity problems can lead to increased disease problems, shrink, and weak seed. Problems with temperature can lead to sprouting, shrink, physiological aging, dormant seed, and disease problems. Maintaining a small temperature pile gradient from the bottom to the top of the pile is essential in potato storage management. Shrink, one of the common results of poor potato storage management, can be very costly. The cost of 1 percent shrink for an average center pivot potato field would be 5000 cwt. or, at an average $4.00/cwt. price, it would be $20,000 per circle. Improvements in storage management can easily save 1-2 percent shrinkage. Potato storage management is affected by the quality of the potatoes going into storage.