[Market-farming] limitations of AC coolers

Robert Schuler sunnfarm at verizon.net
Tue Jan 16 20:07:50 EST 2007

Paul, you are right, ac cannot remove field heat and true agricultural grade cooling requires removing field heat right into the core of the produce not just the surface. If you put a melon with a core temp of 70 degrees in a ac cool room the surface will feel cold but the the inside of the melon will still be 70 degrees for days after. At my Coop will use vacuum cooling that sucks the field heat out of the produce right to the core then the produce can be held in a cool room. Unfortunately vacuum coolers are a bit costly for a small farm. 
On my farm I do not use any cooling. I tell customers that coolers are just an excuse to sell old produce. If you want old cooled produce you can go to the supermarket. People who buy off the farm expect produce to be fresh picked not days old... Bob.
Sunny Meadow Farm
Bridgeton, NJ.

From: Paul Bucciaglia <pbucciaglia at yahoo.com>
Date: 2007/01/16 Tue PM 12:12:58 CST
To: market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: [Market-farming] limitations of AC coolers

   I don't mean to be a wet rag (no pun intended), but I found Air conditioned coolers to be limited in their usefulness.</div>  <div> </div>  <div>They are fine for crops that are best stored between 55F and 65F.  I have a cooler made from panels ripped from a liquor store--we cut a hole in the back, mounted an old window AC, and wa-laa you have a good cooler for crops that like it cool and dry:  tomatos, melons, and eggplant.  We also store unwashed spuds (short term) in there.</div>  <div> </div>  <div>However, this is not a good cooler for greens, lettuce, broccoli, carrots, etc.  I find these crops store best from 34 to 38F, and trying get a large mass of warm (even if they are hydrocooled), wet produce down to these temps, and held there, is a tall order for an AC.  And I'm not even metnioning the ice-up problems, even though others have found ways to defrost their frozen-up ACs.  Actually, that fact alone should be a warning buzzer about this whole idea!     You can find very reasonable coolers from restarants or grocery stores that are selling out.  A few years ago we put up a 12X18' cooler on the concrete floor in our barn.  The used panels and condenser cost $1000 pulled from a local grocery store (with about 60 ft. of nice roller track thrown in), and a new compressor plus professional wiring ran about 3 grand as I recall.  I should count labor when putting it up, so it was all under 5 grand.  When you consider that this should last (at least!) 10 years, that means refrigertation capital/maintenance costs for my crops run less than $550  a year, which is less than 0.5% of my annual gross income from produce sales.   Lots of bang for the buck there, IMOP.   Because good post harvest handling is so crucial to quality produce, I consider this cooler an essential investment at a very small annual cost.       Paul  Fort Hill Farm      

Paul Bucciaglia
Fort Hill Farm
Organic Vegetables, Herbs, and Flowers
18 Fort Hill Rd.
New Milford CT 06776
(860) 350-3158

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