Faster cooling times for Australia strawberry grower

Mike Gallace, an Australian strawberry grower, 
discovered Global Cooling’s Jet Precoolers on his 
annual visit to USA berry growers. Mike has always been conscious of the need for fast and efficient precooling of berries, and his farm Sunny Ridge was one of the first companies to install high humidity forced air coolers back in the 1980’s. Mike (‘my friends call me “Mick”’) got in contact with Global’s president and founder Jim Still, to ask if Jim would be up to the task of making his Jet-Ready Precooler even more powerful, for the needs of Australian growers.

After some spirited discussion over the next several weeks, Mick and Jim came to an agreement for the first two units. The result is the “Jet-Ready – Heavy Duty Precooler” which has 40 HP fan motors and can deliver 50,000 cfm at operating static pressure; nearly twice the performance of a Jet-Ready standard precooler. Yet, the Jet-HD still only occupies a footprint of 40-inches x 48-inches, and stands 7-feet tall – about the size and weight of a standard fruit pallet, “quite remarkable power in such a small package”, explained Mick. 

Two Jet Heavy Duty precoolers were air-freighted in October 2015 to Australia and immediately deployed removing field heat from strawberries picked straight into clamshell punnets. “Rapid cooling of the fruit is more challenging once the fruit is in the punnet,” said Gallace, “rather than in traditional picking trays. The biggest issue is to eliminate the ‘sweating’, or condensation, that can occur. The innermost berries are warmer, and their high respiration rate emits warm air that can condense on other berries, or inside the clamshell, whenever their temperature is colder than the dewpoint of that warmed air. When the air is 94% relative humidity, the dewpoint is only one or two degrees colder,” explained Gallace.

According to Jim Still, President of Global Cooling and inventor of the Jet Precoolers, “the holy grail in berry cooling is to fully precool in 1 hour or less. With the Jet HDs we built for Mick, we’ve proven we can achieve this milestone, time after time.”

He continued to explain, “most precoolers fully cool berries in clamshells in 2 to 2½ hours, this was the ‘industry standard and best practice’, until now.” Still also noted that with the Jet HD’s dramatically faster cooling times, “it is possible to double throughput in an existing packhouse, without adding on a building expansion. And these are in addition to the obvious benefit of much longer shelf life because of reducing the cut-to-cool time by 50%.”

The Jet Heavy Duty Precoolers that Still designed, engineered, and manufactured for Sunny Ridge are capable of “more than 50,000 cfm at one-inch water column static pressure,” said Still. “This works out to more than 5 cfm (cubic feet per minute) per pound, or 18.7 cubic meters per kilogram per hour. That is a tremendous volume of airflow.” He explained that there are several systems in operation on the west coast of the US, that are also cooling berries at nearly the one-hour benchmark, “but they cost about a million dollars each for 10 or 12 pallet per hour capacity, and have about a ‘gazillion’ parts, so anyone can do the math about the probability and cost of breakdowns.“

“Moisture or dew on the inside of clamshells occurs when the fruit or the plastic itself is colder than the dewpoint of the air inside the package, causing condensation to occur. When you move this much air per clamshell, the berries are cooled much faster, reducing or eliminating the occurrence of condensation.” Cooling faster also reduces electrical costs, claimed Still, “and maximizes shelf life, which is especially important for export markets.”

“50 years ago when my father started the farm,” said Gallace, “we didn’t even have a tractor. Now, we have 12 month a year growing on multiple farms. And the best equipment money can buy, including our new Jet HD Precoolers. We’re pretty sure that with precooling this fast, we won’t need to use any modified atmosphere treatments. Which is another plus when we are all striving for organic certification. Plus, we plan to move the Jets from farm to farm, following the harvests per state, which saves a lot of money from day one.” 

For more information, about Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm:

For information about the Jet Precoolers:
Jim Still
Global Cooling Inc.
Tel: 1-844-858-4621, or local 1-610-248-9800

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