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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).

ProductTemperatureRelative Humidity (percent)Approximate storage life
Amaranth0-232-3695-10010-14 days
Anise0-232-3690-952-3 weeks
Apples-1-430-4090-951-12 months
Apricots-0.5-031-3290-951-3 weeks
Artichokes, globe3295-1002-3 weeks
Asian pear13490-955-6 months
Asparagus0-232-3595-1002-3 weeks
Atemoya135585-904-6 weeks
Avocados, Fuerte, Hass74585-902 weeks
Avocados, Lula, Booth-144090-954-8 weeks
Avocados, Fuchs, Pollock135585-902 weeks
Babaco74585-901-3 weeks
Bananas, green13-1456-5890-9514 weeks
Barbados cherry3285-907-8 weeks
Bean sprouts3295-1007-9 days
Beans, dry4-1040-5040-506-10 months
Beans, green or snap4-74045957-10 days
Beans, lima, in pods5-64143955 days
Beets, bunched3298-10010-14 days
Beets, topped3298-1004-6 months
Belgian endive2-336-3895-9824 weeks
Bitter melon12-1353-5585-902-3 weeks
Black sapote13-1555-6085-902-3 weeks
Blackberries-0.5-031-3290-952-3 days
Blood orange4-7404490-953-8 weeks
Blueberries-0.5-031-3290-952 weeks
Bok choy3295-1003 weeks
Boniato13-1555-6085-904-5 months
Breadfruit13-1555-6085-902-6 weeks
Broccoli3295-10010-14 days
Brussels sprouts3295-1003-5 weeks
Cabbage, early3298-1003-6 weeks
Cabbage, late3298-1005-6 months
Cactus Leaves24364090-953 weeks
Cactus Pear2436-4090-953 weeks
Caimito338903 weeks
Calabaza10-1350-5550-702-3 months
Calamondin9-1048-50902 weeks
Canistel13-1555-6085-903 weeks
Cantaloups (3/4-slip)2-536-419515 days
Cantaloups (full-slip)0-232-36955-14 days
Carambola9-1048-5085-903-4 weeks
Carrots, bunched3295-1002 weeks
Carrots, mature3298-1007-9 months
Carrots, immature3298-1004-6 weeks
Cashew apple0-232-3685-905 weeks
Cauliflower3295-9834 weeks
Celeriac3297-996-8 months
Celery3298-1002-3 months
Chard3295-10010-14 days
Chayote squash74585-904-6 weeks
Cherimoya135590-952-4 weeks
Cherries, sour3290-953-7 days
Cherries, sweet-1 to -0.530-3190-952-3 weeks
Chinese broccoli3295-10010-14 days
Chinese cabbage3295-1002-3 months
Chinese long bean4-740-4590-957-10 days
Clementine44090-9524 weeks
Coconuts0-1.532-3580-851-2 months
Collards3295-10010-14 days
Corn, sweet3295-985-8 days
Cranberries2-436-4090-9524 months
Cucumbers10-1350-559510-14 days
Currants-0.5-031-3290-951-4 weeks
Custard apples5-741-4585-904-6 weeks
Daikon0-132-3495-1004 months
Dates-18 or 00 or 32756-12 months
Dewberries-0.5-031-3290-952-3 days
Durian4-639-4285-906-8 weeks
Eggplants125490-951 week
Elderberries-0.5-031-3290-951-2 weeks
Endive and escarole3295-1002-3 weeks
Feijoa5-1041-50902-3 weeks
Figs fresh-0.5-031-3285-907-10 days
Garlic3265-706-7 months
Ginger root1355656 months
Gooseberries-0.5-031-3290-9534 weeks
Granadilla105085-903-4 weeks
Grapefruit, Calif. & Ariz.14-1558-6085-906-8 weeks
Grapefruit, Fla. & Texas10-1550-6085-906-8 weeks
Grapes, Vinifera-1 to -0.530-3190-951-6 months
Grapes, American-0.5-031-32852-8 weeks
Greens, leafy3295-10010-14 days
Guavas5-1041-50902-3 weeks
Haricot vert4-74045957-10 days
Horseradish-1-030-3298-10010-12 months
Jaboticaba13-1555-6090-952-3 days
Jackfruit135585-902-6 weeks
Jaffa orange8-1046-5085-908-12 weeks
Japanese eggplant8-1246-5490-951 week
Jerusalem Artichoke-0.5-031-3290-95+5 months
Jicama13-1855-6565-701-2 months
Kale3295-1002-3 weeks
Kiwano10-1550-60906 months
Kiwifruit3290-953-5 months
Kohlrabi3298-1002-3 months
Kumquats44090-952-4 weeks
Langsat11-1452-5885-902 weeks
Leeks3295-1002-3 months
Lemons10-1350-5585-901-6 months
Lettuce3298-1002-3 weeks
Limes9-1048-5085-906-8 weeks
Lo bok0-1.532-3595-10024 months
Loganberries-0.5-031-3290-952-3 days
Longan1.53590-953-5 weeks
Loquats32903 weeks
Lychees1.53590-953-5 weeks
Malanga74570-803 months
Mamey13-1555-6090-952-6 weeks
Mangoes135585-902-3 weeks
Mangosteen135585-902-4 weeks
Casaba105090-953 weeks
Crenshaw74590-952 weeks
Honeydew74590-953 weeks
Persian74590-952 weeks
Mushrooms329534 days
Nectarines-0.5-031-3290-952-4 weeks
Okra7-1045-5090-957-10 days
Olives, fresh5-1041-5085-90+6 weeks
Onions, green3295-10034 weeks
Onions, dry3265-701-8 months
Onion sets3265-706-8 months
Oranges, Calif. & Ariz.3-9384885-903-8 weeks
Oranges, Fla. & Texas0-132-3485-908-12 weeks
Papayas7-1345-5585-901-3 weeks
Passionfruit7-1045-5085-903-5 weeks
Parsley3295-1002-2.5 months
Parsnips3295-100+6 months
Peaches-0.5-031-3290-952-4 weeks
Pears-1.5 to -0.529-3190-952-7 months
Peas, green3295-981-2 weeks
Peas, southern+54041956-8 days
Pepino44085-901 month
Peppers, Chili (dry)0-1032-5060-706 months
Peppers, sweet7-1345-5590-952-3 weeks
Persimmons, Japanese-1309034 months
Pineapples7-1345-5585-9024 weeks
Plantain13-1455-5890-951-5 weeks
Plums and prunes-0.5-031-3290-952-5 weeks
Pomegranates54190-952-3 months
Potatoes, early crop10-1650-6090-9510-14 days
Potatoes, late crop4.5-1340-5590-955-10 months
Pummelo7-9454885-9012 weeks
Pumpkins10-1350-5550-702-3 months
Quinces-0.5-031-32902-3 months
Raddichio0-132-3495-1002-3 weeks
Radishes, spring3295-10034 weeks
Radishes, winter3295-10024 months
Rambutan125490-951-3 weeks
Raspberries-0.5-031-3290-952-3 days
Rhubarb3295-10024 weeks
Rutabagas3298-100+6 months
Salsify3295-982-4 months
Santol7-945-4885-903 weeks
Sapodilla16-2060-6885-902-3 weeks
Scorzonera0-132-3495-986 months
Seedless cucumbers10-1350-5585-9010-14 days
Snow peas0-132-3490-951-2 weeks
Soursop135585-901-2 weeks
Spinach3295-10010-14 days
Squashes, summer5-1041-50951-2 weeks
Squashes, winter105050-702-3 months
Strawberries3290-955-7 days
Sugar apples74585-904 weeks
Sweetpotatoes13-1555-6085-904-7 months
Tamarillos3-437-4085-9510 weeks
Tamarinds74590-953-4 weeks
Tangerines, mandarins, and related citrus fruits44090-9524 weeks
Taro root7-1045-5085-904-5 months
Tomatillos13-1555-6085-903 weeks
Tomatoes, mature-green18-2265-7290-951-3 weeks
Tomatoes, firm-ripe13-1555-6090-954-7 days
Turnips32954-5 months
Turnip greens3295-10010-14 days
Ugli fruit44090-952-3 weeks
Waterchestnuts0-232-3698-1001-2 months
Watercress3295-1002-3 weeks
Watermelons10-1550-60902-3 weeks
White sapote19-2167-7085-902-3 weeks
White asparagus0-232-3695-1002-3 weeks
Winged bean1050904 weeks
Yams166170-806-7 months
Yucca root0-532-4185-901-2 months

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

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