While there is not enough space to delve into everything growers need to do to get ready for harvest here are a few of the most important things about pallets, totes, cooling the crop and safe handling.
Secure your 40 by 48 inch pallets. Estimate the number you need. To calculate this, figure 5 totes per layer on the pallet multiplied by 8 layers high which equals 40 totes per pallet and at 35 lbs. per tote that’s 1400 lbs per pallet.
The pallets should be clean and not have any residue on them from former (who knows what) materials stacked on them. You can wash them and/or use paper or cardboard on top of the pallet which would be under the first layer of vented filled berry totes.
Totes should be cleaned with soap and water; we go the extra step and dunk them in a hydrogen peroxide sanitizing solution (1/8 cup of 35% food grade peroxide) per gallon of water at the start of the season. Totes should be air-dried; do NOT stack or store totes on the ground at any time after cleaning. Pickups and other beds used to transport totes from the field to coolers should be cleaned and sanitized on a daily basis if transporting other things when not harvesting. Pressure washers work well for this.
Getting berry-filled totes cooled down to 40°F within 4 hours of harvest is important to maintain berry quality. Forced air-cooling is needed to accomplish this. On hot days you may want to consider harvesting only in the morning hours. The recommended short-term cold storage temperature of aronia is 32°F.
After the berries are cooled and ready to palletize have stretch wrap ready and wrap from the pallet to the top tote, overlapping the wrap each time by about 6 inches.
The information in “ National Aronia Growers” newsletter is for educational purpose only and should not be used as the only source of information. National Aronia Growers, LLC has many resources about aronia berries but we recommend that you consult qualified horticulturist, agronomist and other specialist when you have concerns about aronia berries. Contents are gathered from sources considered to be reliable but the accuracy of all of the information cannot be guaranteed.
Tony Heisterkamp-712-540-0127; Jeff Stewart-605-481-0406 ; Charlie Caldwell - 712-310-7360 - firstname.lastname@example.org