Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 91.djvu/795

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A Storage House for Potatoes

Use of pits, dugouts and masonry houses for the storage of potatoes as discussed by the U. S. Department of Agriculture

��POTATOES of the main crop can be stored satisfactorily throughout most of the United States in the dugout pit or potato cellar in some of its various forms of construction. No at- tempt should be made to store potatoes of the early crop, as they are usually sold for immediate consumption.

While the dugout storage house is in most general use, concrete or masonry houses with frame superstructures are, perhaps, most satisfactory in cold climates. In some sec- tions, espe- cially in the South where drainage is poor, insu- lated frame structures built entirely above the ground must be depended upon.

The pri- mary pur- poses of stor- age are to protect the tubers from extremes of

heat and cold and from light. Account also must be taken of conditions of hu- midity and ventilation and of the size of the storage pile.

The temperature should be the highest at which potatoes will remain firm and uh- germinated, and which will at the same time hold fungus diseases in check. Experi- ments with artificially refrigerated storage indicate that 36 deg. F. is sufficiently low for all practical purposes and that during the earlier portion of the storage season a temperature of 40 deg. F. is just as satis- factory as a lower one except where powdery dry rot infection occurs.

All natural light should be excluded from potato storage houses, because when the tubers are exposed to even modified light, they are soon injured for food pur-

���Potatoes should not be piled too deep in a bin. It is better to use trays or ventilators placed conveniently

��poses. A practical rule in regard to humid- ity is to maintain sufficient moisture in the air to prevent the wilting of the tubers and at the same time to keep the humidity content low enough to prevent the de- posit of moisture on the surface of the tubers.

If too many potatoes are put in one pile they may become overheated and may deteriorate. About 6 ft. is a good maximum depth for piling tubers in bins, and the area covered by each pile also should be limited. A good plan is to insert ven- tilated divi- sion walls at intervals through the pile or bin. These may be made by nail- ing relatively narrow boards on both sides of 2 by 4-in. uprights, i-in. spaces being left between the boards. General ven- tilation for the whole storage house usually is accom- plished through ventilating shafts in the roof.

The two best methods are the most ex- pensive; masonry or concrete houses, and artificially refrigerated storage houses. Pit- ting is the most primitive way, but if properly done in well-drained locations it is satisfactory in so far as the preserva- tion of the potatoes is concerned. The chief drawback to pitting is that the pota- toes are not always easily accessible in the winter.

The dugout pit or potato storage cellar is probably more widely used than any other type of storage space. Fitted with a water-tight roof it is especially popular in the central portion of the United States. In the arid and semi-arid sections a type

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