Many types of fruit taste best when they are harvested fully ripe and then consumed or processed. Leafy vegetables and herbs also do not keep long after harvest. With fruit and vegetables from the home garden, faster consumption and further processing are no problem, but consumers also want a certain shelf life in addition to good quality and full aroma for purchased products. In the following guide, we will learn about what is cold storage in agriculture.
This poses a challenge for fruit and vegetable growers because the metabolism of the products continues even after the harvest: when harvested in the optimal condition, the quality of the harvested material decreases continuously – it loses taste and ingredients and changes its appearance and consistency until it is at some point is no longer edible.
Aroma vs. shelf life:
If you are curious to know about what is cold storage in agriculture, let’s find out in the below guide.
Berries, for example, are only tastefully ripe but lose a lot of quality after a short storage period. Like fresh produce, they can therefore only be sold within a very narrow time window – within a few days after the harvest.
Most of the time, the search for the best harvest time is a compromise between taste and shelf life: fruits are harvested as late as possible so that they can develop their typical aroma, but as early as necessary so that the harvest can survive transport to the shops as well as can be stored at home for some time.
The shelf life of the harvest depends on many factors, such as the type of fruit or vegetable, the variety, the plant location, the production conditions, and how carefully the products are handled during harvest. The producers can actively influence the shelf life, but also through optimal storage conditions. The main adjusting screws are:
- Temperature – as low as possible without causing product damage
- Humidity – is high as possible without causing product damage
- Oxygen content of the air – as low as possible (by introducing nitrogen) without causing product damage
- Carbon dioxide content in the air – increased, but without causing product damage
- Ethylene content in the air – the ripening gas produced by many types of fruit can be bound and the aging process slowed down.
The storage methods have been continuously improved over the past decades – compared to cold storage, fruit and vegetables stay fresh up to four times longer in CA (“Controlled Atmosphere”) or ULO (“Ultra Low Oxygen”) stores.
As a result, many types of fruit and vegetables can now be offered from local production for months or almost all year round.
The low temperature and high humidity in such warehouses are similar to those in the cold warehouse, the main difference being the much lower oxygen and the much higher CO2 content in these warehouses.
However, not every storage method is suitable for every type of fruit and vegetable. Even the varieties sometimes differ greatly in terms of their storage requirements.
There are also major differences in storage costs – the more the ripening factors are influenced by fruits in the warehouse, the more energy and therefore cost-intensive the construction and operation of the respective storage are as a rule.
If the warehouse has been opened, it can also take several hours to days before optimal storage conditions are restored. In the meantime, there are also boxes or individual packaging with special membranes and or ethylene absorber pads that imitate the operating principle of the storage storages on a small scale.
With optimal storage conditions, fruit and vegetables can stay almost freshly harvested for a long time. If the fruits leave the warehouse, the metabolism accelerates even more.
Treatment with the gaseous hydrocarbon 1-methyl cyclopropane (1-MCP) can counteract this in some types of fruit. The molecule blocks the ethylene receptors and thus prevents the ethylene in the air from taking effect – even for some time after it has left the cold store.
As a result, the quality of the crop in the store and with the consumers is retained for longer. If cold storage and gassing are combined, energy consumption can also be reduced because, for example, a lower cooling temperature is necessary.
As a growth regulator, 1-MCP is one of the pesticides. In the EU it is approved for apples, pears, plums, and tomatoes, among other things. The application does not have to be labeled.
1-MCP is a controversial topic in organic farming; however, its use is not permitted because, according to the current state of research, 1-MCP does not occur naturally, but has to be produced synthetically. If you want to know about what is cold storage in agriculture, keep read on this blog.
Storage conditions and ecology:
There are no scientifically sound life cycle assessments for all types of fruit and vegetables. However, several studies on the CO2 footprint of apples suggest that regionally produced fruits, even from energy-intensive storage types, perform significantly better than imports from overseas.
The decisive factor, however, is the storage period: from early summer onwards, the climatic advantages of domestic goods have largely been used up. Tip: From an ecological point of view, it makes the most sense to shop regionally and seasonally.
Did you know?
How active the metabolism of fruit and vegetables is even after the harvest can be seen from the ripening of half-green tomatoes or bananas. Apples, pears, nectarines, peaches, and plums also belong to the fruits that ripen afterward. Berries and cherries, on the other hand, do not ripen.
The right solution for every requirement:
Whether multi-purpose hall, machine hall or warehouse – large and versatile halls are a matter of course in agriculture today. The aim is to make optimal use of the entire space. At nsspl.in, wood always dominates in these cases as a renewable raw material that is CO2 neutral.
What applies to the agricultural buildings such as stables or breeding facilities from Haas naturally also applies to the prefabricated halls. We build according to your ideas and here, too, only work with the best and most reliable suppliers. Our competent consultants help you with individual planning, inexpensive offers, and sustainable and comprehensive construction supervision.
Increasingly, we must be aware of the importance of automation processes, and in parallel, we must pay attention to the development of robotization, as well as the step-by-step towards an automated warehouse. In the specific case of cold logistics, this advance makes it easier for the merchandise, in the cold storages, to be manipulated by robots. And, therefore, it prevents a human being from having to work under these conditions. At the end of this blog, we will learn what is cold storage in agriculture?
It is important to note that the trucks do not make noise inside the cold storage. Therefore, it is mandatory that they carry a beacon that can alert the people inside of their presence.
Where to get supplies?
There are many cold storage supply companies and from overseas manufacturers, but one should be sure to buy one from a reliable local manufacturer who has the technical expertise not only to make the machine but to sell it. But also to offer a guarantee and after-sales service from installation to maintenance. You can get supplies from local cold chain companies.