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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).

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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 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 32 85-90 7-8 weeks
Bean sprouts 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 32 98-100 10-14 days
Beets, topped 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 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 32 95-100 10-14 days
Brussels sprouts 32 95-100 3-5 weeks
Cabbage, early 32 98-100 3-6 weeks
Cabbage, late 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 32 95-100 2 weeks
Carrots, mature 32 98-100 7-9 months
Carrots, immature 32 98-100 4-6 weeks
Cashew apple 0-2 32-36 85-90 5 weeks
Cauliflower 32 95-98 34 weeks
Celeriac 32 97-99 6-8 months
Celery 32 98-100 2-3 months
Chard 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 32 90-95 3-7 days
Cherries, sweet -1 to -0.5 30-31 90-95 2-3 weeks
Chinese broccoli 32 95-100 10-14 days
Chinese cabbage 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 32 95-100 10-14 days
Corn, sweet 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 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 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 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 32 95-100 2-3 weeks
Kiwano 10-15 50-60 90 6 months
Kiwifruit 32 90-95 3-5 months
Kohlrabi 32 98-100 2-3 months
Kumquats 4 40 90-95 2-4 weeks
Langsat 11-14 52-58 85-90 2 weeks
Leeks 32 95-100 2-3 months
Lemons 10-13 50-55 85-90 1-6 months
Lettuce 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 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 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 32 95-100 34 weeks
Onions, dry 32 65-70 1-8 months
Onion sets 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 32 95-100 2-2.5 months
Parsnips 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 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 32 95-100 34 weeks
Radishes, winter 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 32 95-100 24 weeks
Rutabagas 32 98-100 +6 months
Salsify 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 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 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 32 95 4-5 months
Turnip greens 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 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
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Source: McGregor, B.M. 1989. Tropical Products Transport Handbook. USDA Office of Transportation, Agricultural Handbook 668.

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