Location: Vegetable Crops Research Unit
2012 Annual Report
Pressure bruise is a complex process that involves physical damage to cells on the surface of the tuber and to discoloration of internal tissues. Previous work has shown that tubers with pressure bruise have flattened or compressed areas caused by the weight of the potato pile. Theses flattened areas may have crushed periderm and damaged underlying cells. Tissues beneath pressure flattened areas turned black to gray within 4 to 5 days after removal from storage. The black coloration resulted from increased levels of melanin within the tissue, a defect commonly associated with blackspot bruise. Our preliminary data suggest that formation of black bruises may be linked to an increased susceptibility of pressure-flattened areas to further tissue damage by impacts that occur during handling and washing after removal from storage.
It is generally agreed that the severity of pressure flattening and the development of pressure bruise increase with decreased tuber hydration. Potato tubers prior to harvest are susceptible to water loss. Stolons decay on vines that have been desiccated with herbicide, senesced as a result of disease or reached maturity and tubers are no longer attached to the root system. Water loss occurs by evaporation from the periderm, and rates of water loss can be rapid before skins are fully suberized. Rehydration of tubers in soil possible only when free water is available. As skins mature suberization of the periderm dramatically restricts the potential for water uptake by tubers and may prevent appreciable rehydration late in the year. Data documenting the influence of pre- and postharvest practices on tuber hydration and associated cellular turgor pressure, however, are lacking. Data are needed to define relationships between tuber hydration status and pressure bruise incidence and methods are needed to quantify the effect of pre harvest and post harvest management practices on tuber hydration and turgor pressure.
The long term goals of this research are to (1) understand physiological processes influencing tuber hydration status and turgor pressure and their relationships with shrink and sensitivity to pressure bruise and (2) to develop techniques to simulate, characterize and predict the incidence of pressure bruise.
1) Determine the influence of pre-harvest management practices on shrink and the occurrence of pressure flattening and pressure bruise. 2) Determine the influence of storage management practices on shrink and the occurrence of pressure flattening and pressure bruise. 3) Determine the sensitivity of pressure-flattened and non-flattened tubers to impact-generated internal bruising.
Objective 2: Post-harvest management will evaluate storage temperature and ventilation management for fresh market russets on a commercial scale. Three commercial-scale storage bins will be utilized to demonstrate the effects of temperature and ventilation rate on shrink, pressure flattening, and pressure bruise as well as energy costs associated with heating, cooling and ventilation for each treatment. For the reference bin, tubers will be preconditioned at 55°F and cooled to a holding temperature of 38°F at a rate of 0.5°F/d. Ventilation rates will be managed by maintaining a bottom-to-top of pile temperature differential of 1.5°F. Supplemental humidification will be used to maintain relative humidity at 95%. Management of a second bin will mirror the reference bin except that the final temperature will be 42°F and the humidity will be adjusted so that volumetric water content of the bins is equal. A third bin will be the same as the reference, except that ventilation will be increased to maintain a pile temperature differential of 0.5°F.
Objective 3: The hypothesis to be tested is that handling tubers upon removal from storage leads to development of impact bruises under pressure flattened areas. Tubers will be obtained with severe pressure flattening and no pressure flattening directly from commercial storage and from research scale bins. Flattened and normal tubers from each storage facility will be subjected to a factorial treatment design. Treatment factors will include pulp temperature before handling (4 or 10°C), washed or unwashed, and blunt force trauma or no trauma on pressure flattened and non-flattened areas. Data collection will include shrink, pressure flattening, internal bruise, and storage conditions. Samples subjected to impact will be examined under the microscope to more precisely characterize the nature of cellular damage.
Tubers were evaluated after three different durations of storage for pressure flattening using the ventilated container design. Differences in pressure flattening development occurred within a cultivar as a result of moisture loss treatments as well as among the cultivars. There was no difference in the storage time required for Centennial Russet to pressure flatten beyond USDA grade tolerances when the tubers had 5% (4.99%) or less than one percent (0.52%) weight loss prior to storage. Russet Norkotah tubers that lost less than 1% (0.37%) weight could be stored six additional weeks before the tubers were out-of-grade compared to those that lost nearly 4% weight (3.82%). Preventing moisture loss during harvest and storage may not considerably decrease pressure flattening for some cultivars but may provide additional months of profitable shipping for other cultivars.
This research relates to Objective 4, Characterize molecular, physiological and environmental parameters that are determinants of potato quality, especially seed vigor and tuber processing quality.