This research investigates various methods of reducing root damage and the effect of damage on subsequent storage under tropical conditions. The methods investigated for reducing root damage were pre-harvest curing and the use of alternative types of post-harvest packaging. Pre-harvest curing by pruning the plant canopy 14 d before harvest significantly reduced the level of skinning injury in roots during harvesting and post-harvest handling in sacks. When the roots were stored for 14 d, pre-harvest pruning reduced the occurrence of rotten roots. Transporting 20 kg of roots in fibre-board boxes reduced skinning injury whereas it was greatest when transported in polypropylene sacks weighing either 20 or 100 kg. Skinning injury and broken roots reduced shelf life, as measured by weight loss, when roots were stored under tropical conditions. Skinning injury was also associated with the increased occurrence of rots. The implications for sweet potato handling systems in East Africa are discussed.
Tomlins, K.I.; Ndunguru, G.T.; Rwiza, E.; Westby, A. Influence of pre-harvest pruning and mechanical injury on the quality and shelf life of sweet potato (Ipomoea batata (L.) Lam) in East Africa. Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology (2002) 77 (4) 399-403.