Pink eye is a sporadic disorder of potato tubers that may result in a significant loss of quality after harvest. The typical symptoms are pink, slightly raised areas that are easy to see on moist, freshly dug tubers, but difficult to notice on dry, unwashed potatoes. The affected areas usually occur around the eyes and at the tuber stem end. Pink eye will dry out under cool temperatures and low humidity in storage.
In a recent article published in Spud Smart magazine in Canada, potato specialist Dr Eugenia Banks points out that Ed Lulai, a potato physiologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has been researching the causes of pink eye and has just published his results. He suggests replacing the name pink eye with “Periderm Disorder Syndrome” (PDS). The pinkish coloration is short-lived, not causal and often not present. Pink eye is also found on the tuber surface—not only on the eyes—so the name is misleading.
Lulai’s results are consistent with previous findings which show PDS is directly related to the death of actively dividing skin cells.