Date of Award

5-1-2019

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Agricultural Sciences

First Advisor

Watson, Dennis

Abstract

Farmers are limited in the amount of specialty crops they can plant, harvest and market without adequate cooling to preserve commodities before sale. A cooler available at a farm would allow the farmer to harvest his produce earlier and take it to market at a later time. Cooling available on the farm will help a farmer to harvest commodities during peak harvest times and store it for future sale at multiple farmers markets or over a period of a week or more at a farm market. A cooler will give a farmer more logistical options. An indirect-direct evaporative pad cooling can provide cooling with high humidity which is sufficient to prolong shelf life. A cool room with window air conditioning (AC) was modified by adding indirect-direct evaporative cooling. The cool room was used for comparative study of produce shelf life under AC (with CoolBot), indirect-direct evaporative cooling (EC), residential AC (RES), and farm building (FB) storage. Results showed that FB had a lower shelf life because of non-conditioned space. RES was a table in an office building with a temperature of about 22°C. For produce with medium temperature requirements such as tomato, cucumber, and green pepper the shelf life was prolonged more in the cooler room. Strawberry and blueberry had a much longer shelf life in a cooler. The shelf life of the blueberry stored at Cooler AC was longer about two and a half fold longer than Cooler EC and RES, and five and half fold longer than FB. The shelf life of the strawberry in Cooler AC was longer one-fold than Cooler EC, two and a half fold longer than RES, and five-fold longer than FB. The shelf life of green pepper stored in Cooler AC was longer fivefold than Cooler EC and nine and a half fold longer than RES and FB. The shelf life of cucumber stored at Cooler AC was longer two fold than Cooler EC and 3.3-fold longer than RES and four fold longer than FB. The shelf life of tomato stored at Cooler AC was longer 1.25-fold than Cooler EC, 1.75 fold longer than RES and two and a half fold longer than FB. Generally stored fruits and vegetables in Cooler AC was maintained quality with minimal weight loss that allows a farmer to store their produce while maintaining shelf life. Cooler EC can be used to store produce for a shorter time with higher weight loss. Finally, FB had a shorter shelf life due to the non-conditioned space.

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