Submitted to: American Journal of Potato Research
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: March 22, 2011
Publication Date: December 29, 2011
Citation: Bethke, P.C. 2011. Atmospheric ethylene concentrations in research and commercial potato storages. American Journal of Potato Research. 89:31. Technical Abstract: Ethylene has detrimental effects on product quality for many vegetables. Because of this, atmospheric ethylene content is monitored and managed in many vegetable storage facilities. Comparable monitoring is not done in potato storages and, as a consequence, the concentration of ethylene present in the atmosphere of ventilated potato storages is not known. It is known that potato tubers are highly sensitive to ethylene. Well-characterized responses of potato tubers to ethylene include an increase in tuber respiration rate and an accumulation of reducing sugars that can lead to dark chip and fry color. High atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations exacerbate the negative effects of ethylene on fry color. In order to better understand the impact that ethylene may be having on potato tuber quality and how it may influence potato storage management, we monitored the ethylene concentration in the return air in research storages at the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Research Storage Facility and in commercial potato storages. Research storages contained chip, fry processing or fresh market potatoes, and commercial storages contained chip and fry processing potatoes. Atmospheric ethylene was monitored every 1 to 2 weeks using either with a portable ethylene analyzer or gas chromatography. Ethylene was observed at concentrations of greater than 0.10 ppm, but this was rare and occurred where tuber rot was extensive. Most frequently, the observed amounts of ethylene were less than 50 ppb. The significance of these findings will be discussed in the context of recommended best practices for potato storage management.