In-Season Calcium Fertilizer Application Increases Potato Cell Wall Calcium and Firmness of French Fries

  • Daiki Murayama
  • Hiroshi Koaze
  • Shinya Ikeda
  • Jiwan P. Palta
  • Jun Kasuga
  • Samanthi W. Pelpolage
  • Hiroaki Yamauchi
  • Masayuki TaniEmail author


In-season calcium fertilizer application was tested for its effects on the texture of french fries in combination with different blanching conditions during processing. Potato tubers were raised using standard practices with and without calcium fertilization during tuber bulking period. During french fry production, potato strips were treated with either control (without blanching), low-temperature blanching or high-temperature blanching treatments prior to frying process. Our results showed that the in-season application of calcium fertilizer significantly increased the firmness of french fries over the three blanching conditions. Moreover, a combination of calcium fertilization and low-temperature blanching showed the highest firmness of french fries among all the combinations. It was confirmed that calcium fertilization increased calcium concentrations in raw tubers, blanched strips, and its cell walls. Residual activities of pectin methylesterases extracted from potato strips treated by low-temperature blanching were slightly lower than control, but high-temperature blanching inactivated the enzymes as determined by an in vitro assay. Calcium fertilization and low-temperature blanching independently increased content of chelator-soluble pectin extracted from the cell wall. Atomic force microscopy observations suggested that calcium fertilizer application increased the amount of pectins remaining on the primary cell wall even after blanching processes. These results support that the observed increase in firmness of french fries may result from the enhanced formation of Ca2+-induced cross-links between pectin chains in the cell wall based on different mechanisms, i.e., an increase in endogenous Ca2+ available for crosslinking of pectin molecules by calcium fertilizer application and an increase in affinity of pectins to bind Ca2+ through activated pectin methylesterases during low-temperature blanching. Our findings provide potential opportunities to control the firmness of french fries by using different combinations of calcium fertilization and blanching conditions.


Solanum tuberosum Pectic polysaccharides Low-temperature blanching Texture Calcium fertilizer 


Durante el ciclo de cultivo se probó la aplicación de fertilizante de calcio y sus efectos en la textura de papas a la francesa, en combinación con diferentes condiciones de blanqueo durante el procesamiento. Los tubérculos de las papas fueron obtenidos usando las prácticas estándar con y sin fertilización de calcio durante el período de tuberización. Durante la producción de las papas a la francesa, se trató a las tiras de papa ya fuera como testigo (sin blanqueador), blanqueador a baja temperatura, o a alta, antes del proceso del freído. Nuestros resultados mostraron que la aplicación durante el ciclo de cultivo de fertilizante de calcio aumentó significativamente la firmeza de las papas a la francesa sobre las tres condiciones de blanqueo. Más aun, una combinación de fertilización con calcio y el blanqueo a baja temperatura mostró la firmeza más alta de las papas entre todas las combinaciones. Se confirmó que la fertilización con calcio aumentó sus concentraciones en tubérculos crudos, en tiras blanqueadas, y en las paredes celulares. Las actividades residuales de pectin-metilesterasas extraídas de las tiras de papa tratadas con blanqueador a baja temperatura fueron ligeramente más bajas que el testigo, pero el blanqueo a alta temperatura inactivó a las enzimas, como se determinó en un ensayo in vitro. La fertilización con calcio y el blanqueo a baja temperatura aumentaron, de manera independiente, el contenido de pectina soluble en un quelante extraída de la pared celular. Las observaciones al microscopio de fuerza atómica sugirieron que la aplicación de fertilizante de calcio aumentó la cantidad de una parte de las pectinas que permanecieron en la pared celular primaria aún después del proceso de blanqueo. Estos resultados respaldan que el aumento observado en la firmeza de las papas a la francesa pudiera resultar de la formación aumentada de la inducción de enlaces cruzados de Ca2+ entre cadenas de pectina en la pared celular con base a diferentes mecanismos, x. e., un aumento en el Ca2+ endógeno disponible para el cruzamiento de moléculas de pectina por la aplicación de fertilizante de calcio y un aumento en la afinidad de las pectinas para enlazar Ca2+ mediante la activación de pectin-metilesterasas durante el blanqueo a baja temperatura. Nuestros hallazgos proveen de oportunidades potenciales para el control de la firmeza de papas a la francesa mediante el uso de diferentes combinaciones de fertilización de calcio y condiciones de blanqueo.



The authors gratefully acknowledge Mr. Nagahara and his family who provided the potato samples for this research. We also gratefully thank Dr. Naomichi Baba, Dr. Hiroko Tada, Dr. Tetsuya Uchida and Division of Instrumental Analysis in Okayama University for allowing us to use the atomic force microscope.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© The Potato Association of America 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The United Graduate School of Agricultural SciencesIwate UniversityMoriokaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Food ScienceObihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary MedicineObihiroJapan
  3. 3.Research Center for Global AgromedicineObihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary MedicineObihiroJapan
  4. 4.Department of Food ScienceUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  5. 5.Department of HorticultureUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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