Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
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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