POTATO CURING TO REDUCE POST HARVEST LOSSES
Most farmers contribute to post harvest losses unknowingly by use of sharp objects during harvesting hence causing cuts on the tubers. These cuts comprise of injuries to the tissues and because the tubers are already detached from the mother plant, the ability to heal is greatly reduced. The cuts also open ways for pathogenic infections and increased production of ethylene gas which stimulates rotting of potatoes.
Potato tubers, just like any other vegetable, continue with physiological processes such as respiration and transpiration even after they have been harvested. Due to these processes, there is gradual reduction of energy levels and water loss usually exhibited by shrinking of the tubers and their eventual deaths. This contributes to post harvest losses
One way of reducing post-harvest losses in potato farming is by practicing curing of potatoes immediately after harvest and before storage. Potato curing is whereby the tubers are cleaned after harvest to remove excess dirt and stored in an aerated dry conditions, preferably ventilated crates, at a temperature range of 9-110c and high humidity (above 90%) for fourteen days. It is also advisable to do it in an enclosed environment with ventilations to allow air circulation which helps in preventing entry of pest such as aphids and rodents which can as well cause damage to the tubers.
Cured potatoes have less buildup of ethylene gas during storage hence reduced chances of rotting. Curing helps in: quick healing and drying up of wounds on tubers that were caused during harvesting; hardening of the skin which minimizes physical injuries and possible pest attack; reduce the dormancy period of potatoes meant for use as seed potato; and the browning effect caused by cuts is controlled from extending to the rest of the tuber hence maintaining its tasty quality.