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Recommended storage temperatures for vegetables

Source: FAO
If produce is to be stored, it is important to begin with a high quality product. The lot of produce must not contain damaged or diseased units, and containers must be well ventilated and strong enough to withstand stacking. In general proper storage practices include temperature control, relative humidity control, air circulation and maintenance of space between containers for adequate ventilation, and avoiding incompatible product mixes.

Commodities stored together should be capable of tolerating the same temperature, relative humidity and level of ethylene in the storage environment. High ethylene producers (such as ripe bananas, apples, cantaloupe) can stimulate physiological changes in ethylene sensitive commodities (such as lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes) leading to often undesirable color, flavor and texture changes.

Temperature management during storage can be aided by constructing square rather than rectangular buildings. Rectangular buildings have more wall area per square feet of storage space, so more heat is conducted across the walls, making them more expensive to cool. Temperature management can also be aided by shading buildings, painting storehouses white or silver to help reflect the sun’s rays, or by using sprinkler systems on the roof of a building for evaporative cooling. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recommends the use of ferrocement for the construction of storage structures in tropical regions, with thick walls to provide insulation. Facilities located at higher altitudes can be effective, since air temperature decreases as altitude increases. Increased altitude therefore can make evaporative cooling, night cooling and radiant cooling more feasible. Underground storage for citrus crops is common in Southern China, while in Northwest China, apples are stored in caves (Liu, 1988). This system was widely used in the U.S. during the early pert of this century.

Certain commodities, such as onions and garlic, store better in lower relative humidity environments. Curing these crops and allowing the external layers of tissue to dry out prior to handling and storage helps to protect them from further water loss.

The air composition in the storage environment can be manipulated by increasing or decreasing the rate of ventilation (introduction of fresh air) or by using gas absorbers such as potassium permanganate or activated charcoal. Large-scale controlled or modified atmosphere storage requires complex technology and management skills.

Recommended storage temperatures

Recommended Temperature and Relative Humidity, and Approximate Transit and Storage Life for Fruits and Vegetable Crops (see Hardenburg et al, 1986 for more complete information on individual crops).

Product Temperature Relative Humidity (percent) Approximate storage life
°C °F
Amaranth 0-2 32-36 95-100 10-14 days
Anise 0-2 32-36 90-95 2-3 weeks
Apples -1-4 30-40 90-95 1-12 months
Apricots -0.5-0 31-32 90-95 1-3 weeks
Artichokes, globe 0 32 95-100 2-3 weeks
Asian pear 1 34 90-95 5-6 months
Asparagus 0-2 32-35 95-100 2-3 weeks
Atemoya 13 55 85-90 4-6 weeks
Avocados, Fuerte, Hass 7 45 85-90 2 weeks
Avocados, Lula, Booth-1 4 40 90-95 4-8 weeks
Avocados, Fuchs, Pollock 13 55 85-90 2 weeks
Babaco 7 45 85-90 1-3 weeks
Bananas, green 13-14 56-58 90-95 14 weeks
Barbados cherry 0 32 85-90 7-8 weeks
Bean sprouts 0 32 95-100 7-9 days
Beans, dry 4-10 40-50 40-50 6-10 months
Beans, green or snap 4-7 4045 95 7-10 days
Beans, lima, in pods 5-6 4143 95 5 days
Beets, bunched 0 32 98-100 10-14 days
Beets, topped 0 32 98-100 4-6 months
Belgian endive 2-3 36-38 95-98 24 weeks
Bitter melon 12-13 53-55 85-90 2-3 weeks
Black sapote 13-15 55-60 85-90 2-3 weeks
Blackberries -0.5-0 31-32 90-95 2-3 days
Blood orange 4-7 4044 90-95 3-8 weeks
Blueberries -0.5-0 31-32 90-95 2 weeks
Bok choy 0 32 95-100 3 weeks
Boniato 13-15 55-60 85-90 4-5 months
Breadfruit 13-15 55-60 85-90 2-6 weeks
Broccoli 0 32 95-100 10-14 days
Brussels sprouts 0 32 95-100 3-5 weeks
Cabbage, early 0 32 98-100 3-6 weeks
Cabbage, late 0 32 98-100 5-6 months
Cactus Leaves 24 3640 90-95 3 weeks
Cactus Pear 24 36-40 90-95 3 weeks
Caimito 3 38 90 3 weeks
Calabaza 10-13 50-55 50-70 2-3 months
Calamondin 9-10 48-50 90 2 weeks
Canistel 13-15 55-60 85-90 3 weeks
Cantaloups (3/4-slip) 2-5 36-41 95 15 days
Cantaloups (full-slip) 0-2 32-36 95 5-14 days
Carambola 9-10 48-50 85-90 3-4 weeks
Carrots, bunched 0 32 95-100 2 weeks
Carrots, mature 0 32 98-100 7-9 months
Carrots, immature 0 32 98-100 4-6 weeks
Cashew apple 0-2 32-36 85-90 5 weeks
Cauliflower 0 32 95-98 34 weeks
Celeriac 0 32 97-99 6-8 months
Celery 0 32 98-100 2-3 months
Chard 0 32 95-100 10-14 days
Chayote squash 7 45 85-90 4-6 weeks
Cherimoya 13 55 90-95 2-4 weeks
Cherries, sour 0 32 90-95 3-7 days
Cherries, sweet -1 to -0.5 30-31 90-95 2-3 weeks
Chinese broccoli 0 32 95-100 10-14 days
Chinese cabbage 0 32 95-100 2-3 months
Chinese long bean 4-7 40-45 90-95 7-10 days
Clementine 4 40 90-95 24 weeks
Coconuts 0-1.5 32-35 80-85 1-2 months
Collards 0 32 95-100 10-14 days
Corn, sweet 0 32 95-98 5-8 days
Cranberries 2-4 36-40 90-95 24 months
Cucumbers 10-13 50-55 95 10-14 days
Currants -0.5-0 31-32 90-95 1-4 weeks
Custard apples 5-7 41-45 85-90 4-6 weeks
Daikon 0-1 32-34 95-100 4 months
Dates -18 or 0 0 or 32 75 6-12 months
Dewberries -0.5-0 31-32 90-95 2-3 days
Durian 4-6 39-42 85-90 6-8 weeks
Eggplants 12 54 90-95 1 week
Elderberries -0.5-0 31-32 90-95 1-2 weeks
Endive and escarole 0 32 95-100 2-3 weeks
Feijoa 5-10 41-50 90 2-3 weeks
Figs fresh -0.5-0 31-32 85-90 7-10 days
Garlic 0 32 65-70 6-7 months
Ginger root 13 55 65 6 months
Gooseberries -0.5-0 31-32 90-95 34 weeks
Granadilla 10 50 85-90 3-4 weeks
Grapefruit, Calif. & Ariz. 14-15 58-60 85-90 6-8 weeks
Grapefruit, Fla. & Texas 10-15 50-60 85-90 6-8 weeks
Grapes, Vinifera -1 to -0.5 30-31 90-95 1-6 months
Grapes, American -0.5-0 31-32 85 2-8 weeks
Greens, leafy 0 32 95-100 10-14 days
Guavas 5-10 41-50 90 2-3 weeks
Haricot vert 4-7 4045 95 7-10 days
Horseradish -1-0 30-32 98-100 10-12 months
Jaboticaba 13-15 55-60 90-95 2-3 days
Jackfruit 13 55 85-90 2-6 weeks
Jaffa orange 8-10 46-50 85-90 8-12 weeks
Japanese eggplant 8-12 46-54 90-95 1 week
Jerusalem Artichoke -0.5-0 31-32 90-95 +5 months
Jicama 13-18 55-65 65-70 1-2 months
Kale 0 32 95-100 2-3 weeks
Kiwano 10-15 50-60 90 6 months
Kiwifruit 0 32 90-95 3-5 months
Kohlrabi 0 32 98-100 2-3 months
Kumquats 4 40 90-95 2-4 weeks
Langsat 11-14 52-58 85-90 2 weeks
Leeks 0 32 95-100 2-3 months
Lemons 10-13 50-55 85-90 1-6 months
Lettuce 0 32 98-100 2-3 weeks
Limes 9-10 48-50 85-90 6-8 weeks
Lo bok 0-1.5 32-35 95-100 24 months
Loganberries -0.5-0 31-32 90-95 2-3 days
Longan 1.5 35 90-95 3-5 weeks
Loquats 0 32 90 3 weeks
Lychees 1.5 35 90-95 3-5 weeks
Malanga 7 45 70-80 3 months
Mamey 13-15 55-60 90-95 2-6 weeks
Mangoes 13 55 85-90 2-3 weeks
Mangosteen 13 55 85-90 2-4 weeks
Melons:
Casaba 10 50 90-95 3 weeks
Crenshaw 7 45 90-95 2 weeks
Honeydew 7 45 90-95 3 weeks
Persian 7 45 90-95 2 weeks
Mushrooms 0 32 95 34 days
Nectarines -0.5-0 31-32 90-95 2-4 weeks
Okra 7-10 45-50 90-95 7-10 days
Olives, fresh 5-10 41-50 85-90 +6 weeks
Onions, green 0 32 95-100 34 weeks
Onions, dry 0 32 65-70 1-8 months
Onion sets 0 32 65-70 6-8 months
Oranges, Calif. & Ariz. 3-9 3848 85-90 3-8 weeks
Oranges, Fla. & Texas 0-1 32-34 85-90 8-12 weeks
Papayas 7-13 45-55 85-90 1-3 weeks
Passionfruit 7-10 45-50 85-90 3-5 weeks
Parsley 0 32 95-100 2-2.5 months
Parsnips 0 32 95-100 +6 months
Peaches -0.5-0 31-32 90-95 2-4 weeks
Pears -1.5 to -0.5 29-31 90-95 2-7 months
Peas, green 0 32 95-98 1-2 weeks
Peas, southern +5 4041 95 6-8 days
Pepino 4 40 85-90 1 month
Peppers, Chili (dry) 0-10 32-50 60-70 6 months
Peppers, sweet 7-13 45-55 90-95 2-3 weeks
Persimmons, Japanese -1 30 90 34 months
Pineapples 7-13 45-55 85-90 24 weeks
Plantain 13-14 55-58 90-95 1-5 weeks
Plums and prunes -0.5-0 31-32 90-95 2-5 weeks
Pomegranates 5 41 90-95 2-3 months
Potatoes, early crop 10-16 50-60 90-95 10-14 days
Potatoes, late crop 4.5-13 40-55 90-95 5-10 months
Pummelo 7-9 4548 85-90 12 weeks
Pumpkins 10-13 50-55 50-70 2-3 months
Quinces -0.5-0 31-32 90 2-3 months
Raddichio 0-1 32-34 95-100 2-3 weeks
Radishes, spring 0 32 95-100 34 weeks
Radishes, winter 0 32 95-100 24 months
Rambutan 12 54 90-95 1-3 weeks
Raspberries -0.5-0 31-32 90-95 2-3 days
Rhubarb 0 32 95-100 24 weeks
Rutabagas 0 32 98-100 +6 months
Salsify 0 32 95-98 2-4 months
Santol 7-9 45-48 85-90 3 weeks
Sapodilla 16-20 60-68 85-90 2-3 weeks
Scorzonera 0-1 32-34 95-98 6 months
Seedless cucumbers 10-13 50-55 85-90 10-14 days
Snow peas 0-1 32-34 90-95 1-2 weeks
Soursop 13 55 85-90 1-2 weeks
Spinach 0 32 95-100 10-14 days
Squashes, summer 5-10 41-50 95 1-2 weeks
Squashes, winter 10 50 50-70 2-3 months
Strawberries 0 32 90-95 5-7 days
Sugar apples 7 45 85-90 4 weeks
Sweetpotatoes 13-15 55-60 85-90 4-7 months
Tamarillos 3-4 37-40 85-95 10 weeks
Tamarinds 7 45 90-95 3-4 weeks
Tangerines, mandarins, and related citrus fruits 4 40 90-95 24 weeks
Taro root 7-10 45-50 85-90 4-5 months
Tomatillos 13-15 55-60 85-90 3 weeks
Tomatoes, mature-green 18-22 65-72 90-95 1-3 weeks
Tomatoes, firm-ripe 13-15 55-60 90-95 4-7 days
Turnips 0 32 95 4-5 months
Turnip greens 0 32 95-100 10-14 days
Ugli fruit 4 40 90-95 2-3 weeks
Waterchestnuts 0-2 32-36 98-100 1-2 months
Watercress 0 32 95-100 2-3 weeks
Watermelons 10-15 50-60 90 2-3 weeks
White sapote 19-21 67-70 85-90 2-3 weeks
White asparagus 0-2 32-36 95-100 2-3 weeks
Winged bean 10 50 90 4 weeks
Yams 16 61 70-80 6-7 months
Yucca root 0-5 32-41 85-90 1-2 months

Source: McGregor, B.M. 1989. Tropical Products Transport Handbook. USDA Office of Transportation, Agricultural Handbook 668.

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