My crops have done exceptionally well this year. Sweet cherries, peaches, potatoes, tomatoes, onions and pears have been more than we can eat. Giving excess away has worked. Dry storage for some of these and other crops is another option.
Most of my onions last year rotted quickly after harvest. To limit my frustration this year, I started giving them away soon after harvest. High humidity is the death of onions. The onion neck needs to be thoroughly dry so no “juiciness” remains before storing. A dry onion can be stored three to four months in a well-ventilated location. Mine are in the basement in proximity of the dehumidifier, which has been running a lot this year.
Potatoes, unlike the onions, store best with humidity. Cool is the other important condition. Ideally, they will keep four to five months at 40 degrees and 90% humidity.
Pumpkins and winter squash keep longest when harvested after their skin hardens and colors darken. Keep them at 85 degrees for 10 days to toughen the rind. Then they can be used or stored at 50 degrees with good air circulation at 50% humidity.
Pears are picked before they are tree-ripe to prevent grittiness. Fruit will ripen and become usable after picking. Pick when the spots on the skin change from white to brown. Storing them at 32 degrees will keep them for one to three months.
Apple varieties keep for different lengths. Granny Smith can keep up to 240 days given the right conditions. That means in a refrigerator with the temperature near 32 degrees and 90-95% humidity. Gala will keep for 120 days with the same storage conditions. Store only the best quality apples that are picked as they are first maturing. Avoid skin breaks, disease or insect damage, and bruises on individual fruit. Store in a plastic bag to help retain moisture in the apples. The bag should have a few small holes for air exchange.
The key to storing is monitoring the produce. One rotten apple can spoil the whole lot. Continue to use up what you have and sort them. Additional specific harvest and storage information is available from Extension.
You can find out more information on this and other horticulture topics by going to the Riley County, K-State Research and Extension website at www.riley.ksu.edu.
Gregg may be contacted by calling 785-537-6350 or stopping by 110 Courthouse Plaza in Manhattan or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.