BEET SIZE AND DAMAGE
My feeling in that beet size is an important part of rates of post harvest loss. The problem is, I don’t have any evidence. There are many different factors related to post-harvest loss that beet size may impact upon, and rates of harvest and handling damage is one of the most important and easiest to quantify (see list at bottom of this post for other possible factors). So I want to start here.
If there is a different rate and/or type of damage depending on beet size, then it can be expected that rates of rot and thus loss under long term storage will also depend on size.
A survey of clamps should do. Randomly select 100 beets from a clamp, then do some sort of Monte Carlo selection based on weight to ensure a range of sizes, e.g. 10 beets per weight group (eg <0.8kg, 0.8 – 1.4kg, 1.4 – 2.0kg, >2kg). Measure their diameter and weight, then grade the root tip breakage, topping size, and any surface damage. The harvest + field transport method need to be known, as too variety, soil type and soil condition at harvest. Repeat this for as many clamps as possible.
Whenever in the harvest period, and whichever year. It is probably best to attempt this after good harvest conditions to ensure minimal dirt on the beets, just so grading of damage is easier. It would then be worth repeating after a wet period to see if rates of damage change.
Purely time and transport. I’d guess 2 hours per clamp. So five clamps = 10 hours. I think that you could just mark off 2 days and do this on as many clamps as you can access.
WHY THIS MIGHT NOT HAPPEN:
Other factors that beet size may impact
- rates of moisture loss. Starting with, do larger beets have lower volume to surface area ratio (or “specific area”)?, thus are likely to lose less moisture per tonne with time?
- air flow in clamps. Starting with, how does the bulk porosity of larger beets compare to smaller beets? There is one paper on this by Tabil. This will be something I can hopefully model with CFD (just take the same 3D models of sugar beets, have at two or three different scales, then use the physics component of Blender to form piles, turn these piles into geometry, and simulate air flow with CFD. Straight forward, hey…). If there is better airflow, then ventilation will be easier.
- contact area. I’m not sure if it’s better to have more or less contact area during storage (is there more or less rot here or not), but I’m guessing size will matter here.