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Causes of crop spoilage in the vegetable storehouse

15.10.2021  |  Vegetable storage

Regina
Regina

Marketer

1

Listed below are the various sources that cause spoilage of fruits and vegetables during long-term storage and the corrective measures that should be taken to minimize and mitigate the effects.

1. Mechanical damage.

Causes:

  • Improper harvesting methods;
  • Poor handling, threshing, husking, cleaning, grading, or drying;
  • Traumatic methods of transportation and loading (e.g. use of hooks).
Consequences:
  • Weight loss;
  • Loss of quality (nutritional value, appearance);
  • Increased vulnerability to infestation by insect pests and fungi. 
Countermeasures:

  • Pay attention to maximum temperatures when drying!
  • Use safe methods when harvesting, transporting, processing and storing;
  • Use caution when handling bags or crates;
  • Repair or replace damaged bags or crates;
  • Do not use hooks to carry bags or crates;
  • Keep an eye on the condition of pallets (e.g., remove protruding nails).

2.  High temperature

Causes:

  • Inappropriate storage design (improper location, insufficient shade and ventilation facilities, lack of insulation);
  • Mass reproduction of pests and fungi;
  • Insufficient aeration of the storage room;
  • High level of humidity.
Consequences:
  • Weight loss;
  • Loss in quality (nutritional value, appearance);
  • Good conditions for the development of pests;
  • Moisture condensation, followed by fungal development.
Countermeasures:
  • Approach the design of vegetable storage very responsibly - this will help avoid most mistakes!
  • Provide shade for the storage units or silos (e.g. with wide eaves or shading trees);
  • Maintain an optimal temperature (ventilate the storage facility);
  • Conduct pest control treatments;
  • Store bags or boxes on pallets to improve aeration;
  • Maintain a space of 1 m around all stacks.


3. High humidity

Causes:

  • Insufficient drying before storage;
  • High relative humidity in the room;
  • Structural defects and damage to the storage room (unsuitable materials, leaky floor, walls and roof, holes, cracks, etc.);
  • Temperature imbalances (e.g., day/night) in the storage room followed by condensation;
  • Mass reproduction of pests.
Important: for products stored on the floor (bulk method) or in contact with the walls, the risk increases.

Consequences:
  • Loss in quality;
  • Loss in weight;
  • Fungal development and formation of mycotoxins;
  • Swelling and germination;
  • Damage to the storage structure.
Countermeasures:
  • Dry produce well before storage;
  • Repair and seal the storage facility;
  • Keep the relative humidity in storage as low as possible (option: controlled atmosphere);
  • Store bags or crates on pallets;
  • Provide a space of 1 m around all stacks;
  • Conduct pest control treatments;
  • Avoid temperature differences (day/night) in the storage area by ventilation.

4. Insect pests

Causes of infestation:

  • Introduction from infested lots, cross-infestation from neighboring lots or storage facilities;
  • Migration from waste or garbage
  • Use of infested bags or crates.
Consequences:
  • Loss in weight;
  • Loss of quality (impurities such as droppings, cocoons and insect parts, reduced nutritional value, threat to the health of the end user);
  • Increased temperature and humidity.
Countermeasures:
  • Harvest at the right time;
  • Choose resistant varieties;
  • Keep transportation equipment clean;
  • Remove infected fruit before storage;
  • Make sure produce is dry before putting in storage;
  • Prevent the introduction of pests by checking for infestations before storage;
  • Clean the storage room daily;
  • Keep the temperature and relative humidity as low as possible (option: controlled atmosphere);
  • Prevent pests from entering by sealing the storage area (windows, doors, vents);
  • Repair any damage to the storage area immediately;
  • Store old and new batches separately;
  • Clean empty bags and crates thoroughly and treat them against insects if necessary;
  • Conduct pest control treatments;
  • Rotate supplies on a first-come, first-served basis.

5. Microorganisms

Causes of contamination:

  • High moisture content in stored produce;
  • High relative humidity in storage;
  • Condensation;
  • Humidity and dampness caused by insects.
Consequences:
  • Loss of quality (smell, taste, color, nutritional value);
  • Formation of mycotoxins;
  • Slight weight loss (mold);
  • Further increase in temperature and humidity;
  • Further condensation.
Countermeasures:
  • Sufficiently dry produce before storage;
  • Keep the relative humidity in storage as low as possible (controlled atmosphere);
  • Store bags and crates on pallets;
  • Allow 1 m space around all stacks;
  • Conduct pest control treatments.

6. Rodents

Causes of Infestation:

  • Penetration of rodents through poorly closed doors, windows, vents, holes;
  • Lack of barriers;
  • Lack of hygiene in the storage facility and the surrounding area (possible hiding and breeding places).
Consequences:
  • Weight loss;
  • Large quality losses due to contamination of produce with feces and urine;
  • Product contamination by pathogenic agents (typhoid, rabies, hepatitis, plague, etc.);
  • Damage to materials and equipment (bags, crates, doors, electrical cables).
Countermeasures:
  • Prevent rodent entry by sealing the storage facility from rats;
  • Keep the storage facility and surrounding area clean;
  • Place traps;
  • Carry out rodent control measures.

7. Birds

Causes:

  • Open or broken doors, windows, vents or roofs.
  • Consequences:
  • Weight loss;
  • Damage to bags or crates;
  • Contamination of stored produce with manure and pathogenic agents.
Countermeasures:
  • Protect storage facilities from birds (make repairs, install grates or nets);
  • Remove all bird nests from the storehouse and surrounding area.