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Strawberry fields forever?

IMG_5960Refrigeration is essential in ensuring strawberries reach the market in peak condition. As a respiring fruit, strawberries begin to deteriorate immediately on picking – unless they are cooled immediately. When you are picking 72 tonnes of strawberries a day you need to rely on a cooling specialist that won’t let you down.

This is the story of how a family-run major strawberry grower manages the chilling process. Based in on the south coast of the UK, the team farms over 1,100 acres of soft fruits such as strawberries, and 43 acres of glasshouse production with cutting edge substrate growing systems. The company values its partnership with IMG_5984Hampshire-based air conditioning and refrigeration specialist, Cold Control, whose team has tailored a solution to suit its specific circumstances.

Cold Control has supplied two low-noise Zanotti Dorin GCU condensing sets matched to Guntner twin fan evaporators and digital control panels to integrate into the existing refrigeration tunnel system at the strawberry growers’ Chichester site. Each one of the four cooling modules provides rapid two-hour post-harvest cooling to 10 pallets, approximately 3,400kg per batch of fruit.

Describing the system Cold Control technical director Laurie Fisk said “The equipment cools the strawberries from 25°C to 2°C in the two hours post-harvest period to ensure they maintain freshness. Essentially we use the refrigeration equipment to suck cool air through punnets and trays. We ensure this by making the existing cooling tunnels more efficient by adding equipment to suit the high duty requirement.

“By optimising the rate of cooling, we are able to reduce decay and preserve the strawberries whilst in their prime, by reducing respiration and moisture loss from the strawberries, thus improving shelf life of the product.”

“Each farm is set up differently and we are able to tailor cold stores and equipment to specific needs. As well as the provision of refrigeration equipment, we can also build cold stores up to 10,000m³ featuring the latest insulated panel technology.”

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