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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Resources for the Genetic Improvement of Potato

Location: Vegetable Crops Research Unit

Title: Ethylene in the atmosphere of commercial potato (Solanum tuberosum) storage bins and potential effects on tuber respiration rate and fried chip color

Author
item Bethke, Paul

Submitted to: American Journal of Potato Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 4, 2014
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Citation: Bethke, P.C. 2014. Ethylene in the atmosphere of commercial potato (Solanum tuberosum) storage bins and potential effects on tuber respiration rate and fried chip color. American Journal of Potato Research. Available: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12230-014-9400-1.

Interpretive Summary: Potato tubers are often stored in climate controlled storage facilities. Careful management of these facilities is needed to keep potatoes at their best. The plant growth regulator ethylene has well documented effects on potato tubers, some of which are undesirable in storage. Data on the amount of ethylene present in ventilated potato storages facilities is unavailable. In the absence of this data, informed decisions cannot be made about the benefits of installing ethylene monitoring equipment in potato storages and developing storage management practices based on ethylene abundance. To address this need, ethylene concentration was quantified in ventilated commercial storage bins from shortly after they were filled with potatoes until the potatoes were removed months later. Ethylene was found to be present transiently, and at very low concentrations. Chipping potato tubers responded to low amounts of ethylene by increasing their respiration rate, but a darkening of fried potato chips was not observed. These data indicate that the impact of atmospheric ethylene on tuber quality and storage management in ventilated potato storages is likely to be small, except near localized regions of high ethylene production. This research benefits potato storage managers as they refine their best management practices for potato storage.

Technical Abstract: Careful storage management is required to maintain post-harvest potato tuber quality. The plant growth regulator ethylene has well documented effects on potato tuber respiration rate, fried product color, and sprouting, but data on the amount of ethylene present in ventilated potato storages and how ethylene may affect tubers in commercial storage are not available. In the absence of this data, informed decisions cannot be made about the benefits of installing ethylene monitoring equipment in potato storages and developing storage management practices based on ethylene abundance. To address this need, ethylene concentration was quantified in ventilated commercial storage bins from shortly after bin filling until unloading in three years. Ethylene was present transiently, and only rarely at concentrations greater than 20 nl l-1. Chipping potato tubers responded to a short-term ethylene application of 20 nl l-1 with an increase in tuber respiration rate, but not with an increase in post-fry chip darkening. These data indicate that the impact of atmospheric ethylene on tuber quality and storage management in ventilated potato storages is likely to be small, except near localized regions of high ethylene production.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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