Top 10 Packing & Shipping Best Practices

Published online: Mar 08, 2019 Top Five, Articles
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This article appears in the January 2019 issue of Potato Grower

A major issue growers, shippers and retailers face is maintaining the high quality of potatoes from the time they leave an on-farm storage until they reach their final destination in the grocery store. The Idaho Potato Commission has teamed up with University of Idaho researchers to investigate this issue and determine what can be done to ensure that potatoes maintain the high level quality growers know they have when they leave the farm.

Below are 10 tips for maintaining your potatoes’ innate goodness. For more information contact Nora Olsen (norao@uidaho.edu) or Mike Thornton (miket@uidaho.edu) with University of Idaho Extension.

1. Monitor temperature in storage

Monitor temperature at the storage, and keep pulp temperatures above 45 degrees Fahrenheit during removal to minimize bruising

2. Storage management effects

Understand the relationship between management decisions, weight loss and disease incidence in storage.

3. Avoid large drops

Drops of more than 6 inches should be avoided, especially onto hard surfaces, on all machinery.

4. Pad all impact points

Use padding at all impact points. Replace padding when worn out.

5. Run conveyors at capacity

Run all conveyors at capacity to reduce the relative drop height between pieces of equipment.

6. Remove excess moisture

Remove all moisture from the surface of potatoes before final packaging.

7. Maintain temperature en route

Maintain packaged potatoes at a constant temperature, and provide adequate ventilation to help prevent soft rot.

8. Check (and re-check) truck/railcar temperature

Confirm truck and railcar temperature prior to loading, and make sure the set point is accurate. (Inaccurate set points are a common source of lowered quality at the end of many fresh potatoes’ journey.) Avoid set points that may encourage condensation.

9. Monitor quality of packaged potatoes

To reduce pressure bruise potential, match pile height to ventilation design capacity for the storage, maintain high humidity, and avoid large delta T differentials.

10. Educate equipment operators

Educate all equipment operators so they understand the first nine items on this list.