Adverse air and soil temperatures are abiotic stresses that occur frequently and vary widely in duration and magnitude. Heat stress limits productivity of cool-weather crops such as potato (Solanum tuberosum) and may degrade crop quality. Stem-end chip defect is a localized discoloration of potato chips that adversely affects finished chip quality. The causes of stem-end chip defects are poorly understood. Chipping potatoes were grown under controlled environmental conditions to test the hypothesis that stem-end chip defect is caused by transient heat stress during the growing season. Heat stress periods with 35 °C days and 29 °C nights were imposed approximately 3 months after planting and lasted for 3, 7 or 14 days. At harvest and after 1, 2 and 3 months of storage at 13 °C, potato tubers were evaluated for glucose, fructose, sucrose and dry matter contents at the basal and apical ends. Chips were fried and rated for defects at the same sampling times. Differences in responses to heat stress were observed among four varieties of chipping potatoes. Heat stress periods of 7 and 14 days increased reducing sugar content in the tuber basal and apical ends, decreased dry matter content, and increased the severity of stem-end chip defects. Transient heat stress during the growing season decreased post-harvest chipping potato quality. Tuber reducing sugars and stem-end chip defects increased while dry matter content decreased. Planting varieties with tolerance to transient heat stress may be an effective way to mitigate these detrimental effects on chipping potato quality. Published 2018. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.
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