storing potatoes

Asked January 13, 2015, 12:51 PM EST

Farmer in Ione in Morrow County has a refrigerator full of red potatoes that he grew. Wants advice on how to store them. Wondering if a refrigerator will have enough air circulation. When stored at a higher temp started to sprout.Any suggested altenatives for him. Wondering if anti sprout chemical is available in small quantities.

Morrow County Oregon

5 Responses

A refrigerator is fine for short-term storage of potatoes; however, the colder temperatures can shift starches to sugars which can lead to excessive 'sweetening' of potatoes and will result in a sweeter flavor. A cool and dark area of a garage or shed that won't freeze during winter is probably your best bet. Air circulation and humidity are needed for large piles in a confined space. Seed potatoes are often stored at 38-40 degrees F which tends to slow sprouting compared to 50 degree storage; however, the 'sweetening' process usually occurs at temperatures this cold. If possible, look to store potatoes around 45 degrees F.

Red potatoes generally have shorter dormancy than russet types which creates challenges for long-term storage without the aid of sprout inhibitors. Unfortunately, home gardeners don't have access to these products. Certain clove and mint oils have been shown to have sprout suppressive or sprout 'burning' properties. If you can access any of these compounds you might try 'partial' soaking of a rag and place inside a burlap bag with potatoes and see if you can extend the dormancy period. A little of these oils goes a long ways!!

Thank you Brian. Would it work to just turn the temperature of the refrigerator to about 45? Was also wondering about air circulation in a refrigerator. He has a lot of potatoes "a refrigerator full".
When he put them in a cool shed they starting sprouting.

My concern with this approach is perhaps a buildup of carbon dioxide which can lead to a myriad of problems. If you take this approach, open the door a couple of times each day to maximize oxygen concentration.

What kind of problems could the build up if carbon dioxide cause. How long would the refrigerator be left open to dissipate the carbon dioxide problem.
Thank you again.
Jeannette Byrnes

Here is a link to a publication that discuss much more on storing potatoes at home: I'd think just opening for a few seconds at couple of times each day would suffice. I have no idea what a normal 'carbon dioxide to oxygen ratio' exists in a common refrigerator. Hope this helps.