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Post Harvest Handling

Brad Johnson


Brad Johnson

Owner and Operator of Wooley Farms in Gridley, CA



  • November 12, 2015
    2:45 PM
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So good afternoon. My name is Brad Johnson. And I with my wife's farm in Greeley California. With Will the farms and. I've lived there all my life I've been farming. On my own to some of some type. Since about one thousand nine hundred six and. Judy and I my wife. Far more organic walnuts. Sugar plums. The problems. Mixed vegetables. And we also farm of conventional peaches with and your palms with my brother and sister in law. In the same area. So today. I have a topic that I'm going to talk to you about is the post-harvest handling and. First a favorite quote of mine. Every human being created an image of God is and out with a power akin to The Creator individuality. Power to think and to do. My point being we can all figure out ways to do things. Mine aren't the only ways. So post-harvest handling. My thought in this segment this thing work in the right way. My thinking about this is what happens to the fruit after to separated from the plant or picked and how do you get it to the market in good condition or packaged the way it is wanted to clarify my qualifications on this topic. I'm not an expert. Educated by the book. As a produce handler. There are books on the Internet and universities for that. What I'll be showing you is some of what we do. And our personal experience of how we handle our products. Primarily or vegetable crops. We also Harvester plums dried prunes mechanically and outsource the drawing and painting as well as wall and harvest. We outsource the holding drawing and shelling. But we handpick So I said I'm sorry. We we handpick are at times machine pick our peaches and chips and to be candid a commercial can are. But we are daily involved in harvesting cooling packing shipping our vegetables to wholesale markets. Over the course of the years we have grown for market many kinds of fruits and vegetables with many unique needs for handling the details are bit numerous to cover and is this. That a time we have here. But I'll try to answer your questions as you whatever questions you may have as well. Our operation is relatively homemade. And much of it has been learn as we go. We've been growing for market. Various vegetable crops. With many varieties within these kinds. Watermelon. Melons tomato. A plant squash. Oprah peppers beets cabbage scale. Turnips basal. And a few other miscellaneous types. We haven't evolved in our knowledge and infrastructure. From shade tree. To current state. Those of you who have a lot of money. I guess can build it by the book. Right the first time. Ours is over time. And as we can. And still not right. I'll be running through some photos and speaking to aspects of our operation pertaining to harvest. Slash post-harvest. Both being related to this topic. In other words. What we do to pick the fruit. Get it to market in good condition. Then we'll have time for questions or show more pictures depending on the time. Perhaps you can make some notes. If you have questions so I can kind of manage my time for this. Not really sure how this is going to land time wise but I think we'll have some time for questions. So it's something the note in this picture. If you see see my mouse on there do you how about that. OK. So just a little thing in this picture. About our packaging. So we. We've pre-cut. That's these rules. Bans here they're pre-cut they come on a roll in a box. You pull one Al box you can wrap your pal it's got all singed unit on are you just quickly wrap it sentient right on. So we use those the whole These corner boards which we place corner boards on the corner of our pallets. To kind of titled package together. And then we use new boxes. And generally new pallets. I'll talk about the brown paper. Later. So one of my goals. One of my early goals was no carts in the field. To increase speed and efficiency of harvest and move product be called Impact faster. Though there are systems for hand-picking fresh market tomatoes without carts. We have not risen to that scale. Except when we grew determinant varieties. Which we no longer grow. This have to be a squash field. So don't. Don't be deceived. You know these are not for me but we pick squash. Sometimes early on before we start our machine. Our with our mechanical system with carts. Just because there's not that much fruit start with it's quicker to go through the courts. So our plan instead it is to continue a modifier carts for tomato picking with overhead shade covers for the fruit and people similar to our conveyors and compare wagons. Meaning adding a top shade cover to the carts. For the afternoon sun. These are a few of our cart styles. We've kind of various types we've used over the years. So what I'm talking about is adding extensions on these carts and putting an overhead. Shade canopy. So when we go down through these rows in the heat of the day overhead. All of our fruit is covered with from the sun. Because we get very hot days. And it's summer and it'll scald that fruit even a short time it's in the picking box. This is just an intermediate shade area we put together. If we're to have the wagons not there were use and boxes to kind of shade stuff. So for our home a conveyor harvest system. We've designed our field a out with nine row sections about fifty feet across. So from here to here. Planning to bed plant. And cultivate three rows at a time and put our roads between sections. Allowing our conveyors to reach halfway across for picking. Here you can see our roadways between so this would be a road and this would be a road. Now currently we're using. We're putting in one bed at a time. But the reason I did it with nine roses because my long term is bedding in cultivating and putting up three rows or time just for speed. So this allows us to move product from the field to shade quickly and gives the added benefit to shade workers and conveyor with umbrellas or such things. So we made this conveyor out of scaffolding. From Lowe's we've made other ones from aluminum ladders. And another from scrap electrical school. Wire scaffolding. So it's powered by hard drawbacks from the tractor and we've we've used tech shield plywood and regular comp roofing cuts the heat on the that covers a trailer. The conveyor can swing back parallel. On the trailer for roading So this has a pivot point right here and we can swing this whole thing back against a trailer. So there's more picture of how this works so we're picking window carts. Putting the product on the belt. The the product comes in to the pack shed or to pack trailer and then we're in this case where field packing. We're doing cucumbers here. So we feel pack. At this point. And then the boxes go into a been right on the on the pick and wagon. And then we can handle that with either being carrier or a forklift to get it off or we just call it writing with the trailer. To the pack shed that way and unload it without to handling the boxes again. It works well for eggplant watermelon zucchini. Ambrosia melons and short stick to made us or whatever else you want to Madge and. You can do with that we use more ice burlap on top to keep the pros covered and hydrated during transport. So this is the boys burlap I just pulled it off here. So I could get a good picture of the eggplant in the bins. So you could see. See what fruit we had in there. So we modified these trailers from obsolete to made a wagon. When sauce tomatoes were hand harvested in bins. They have roller conveyors right along underneath there with it's been skid slides. And work well for bands and fork of handing handling. We added. The top. And the sidewalk. Along the edge. And even though it's not pertain to harvest. These wagons make provide a very good way to stick our tomatoes efficiently. Because we can put all our steaks on here. We can pound our steaks down hill without any lifting. You know when the stakes will be this level rather than this level to Louis. Put your stake pounder in or whatever have you put a man. So I just as well side note. So here's another style. We use it's a low profile which we really like this trailer. Easy to get on and off. We're adding collapsible extensions. This year. So this this little extension right here will put on the other one on the other side and. We use this mostly to feel pack our zucchini. And this is incredibly helpful on hot days. I mean if you're looking for some shade this is in the field this is been phenomenally does from a good job. It also works well for hayrides. So here's a group of friends that we you know will take people on a trip around the farm and this is just a good way will throw some baled hay on there and. And it's just a fun way to do it and. Kind of as a. So one of our coolers here is a diesel engine truck cooler and wheezes for volume. Overflow and because we don't have enough electricity. But it can be difficult in and out. Because first in his last out. And on very hot days it seems like it needs more airflow to keep the engine running. This other one here is a little as a forty foot. Reefer box. Very thick insulation and. We put this little. We don't use this big unit here. We just put this little. AC when to who are in here. And you can. I've heard you can modify the thermostat on those things we give the drawdown more. But we just we use it for like dried fruit or wax boxes in the summertime. So we don't use it as our main cooling. But it does keep the wax boss box from melting and sticking together. Or the dried fruit didn't need much coolly. So we can keep it about say fifty fifty five sixty degrees in there kind of keep the door shut We aren't you know now that very much. This one here is an early box we used one of one we started with a little melt truck and. Now we just use it for storage. So you know we're. I could say we just kind of. Try to pull things together over time as we could and. For example. These cooler panels. We bought this whole stack and all that hardware to go with for about five hundred dollars and. These are eighteen to twenty feet long and this is one of the cooler who made out of it. We made several calls out so I just we put this up comma like a wrecker set. And we use the I just came consulted with a can for can compressor and going into manufacturing and build it for with what we could we use the same panels for the roof and the doors and guys with cement was so. Mathematically we do not have enough electricity to build up to build coolers. With all a cooling pass of the we need. So in order to expand. And even do as much we need to do with these. We need more power. So lack of electricity limits our growth has maybe not the only thing but it's definitely a factor. I don't have ever consulted with a. Reefer. So who does refrigeration. It's all mathematical calculations. How much heat you're coming in with how much you want to cool it to how much time you want to spend on it. And it's all tied to the model actress you want to run. How big your compressor is. So we consult over them they say you make some machines. From this in it's feeding that wash line and dumpers on to the belt going this direction. And then. This is. You know going down the the same way. And then it circles back around and makes a continuous flow just like a circle so it just handles multiple products. You know here you can see we're doing watermelons. Here down here we're doing. Apricot and then there's a takeaway line. Takeaway belt right here that just float. Runs So when you're packing. You can put your number to your discards on to this exit line. And it'll go down to the small tub down here. And then we do another pack down there for number twos or discards that can help you just sort stuff out with your packing. Because that's always a dilemma what do you do with all this stuff when it's coming through. You know and then it's a way to organize or boxes so our boxes. Have a rolling conveyor up top here. So we can put all of our empties accessible to. When you see when you fill a boxing just grab another one. And then this roller conveyor then moves the boxes. The other direction same direction out to the to be palletized. So basic are fruit comes in from one direction the pack said. Gets packed and moves out the other side. Breaks down into a normal compound. So we use that for as you keening. Normally we feel Packer commute. Zucchini and this year we brought them all in and we in the box just like this. We just give them in the tank. Box and all. And just dip men pull him out and pats Paul ties and they like wet. They're like you know. We were using washing we went down I mean you know I think you. You could overdo it. I think we normally over doing that we run into. It's if we wear them too much. And our boxes are a high wax content. They'll or if they haven't. Sealed off the flutes or what do you call most holes. There's a way they dip those boxes. And if they're not dip the right way where they close off all those holes on the blocks the water will get inside and collapse the box. So if you want to really good wax box that's what you want you need to close all those holes off. And then you won't get any such arrays in your block. Because when you stack those pallets up your bottom and start collapsing. And you can't use cardboard. At all. I mean you use wax. For all those. You just were not washing and we're working on that were that's is this year we start doing that. Normally we feel pack. We come ringing in the pack shed will open every box because there we weigh in in the field. We pack in way in the field. And the only thing we do in the packet is we will add that we had to peel you stickers in the tactics that we don't stick every fruit. We peel off just like you saw there we peel off a little strip. Throw in the box. Spray it with water. We put wet paper. These wet paper on top and bottom. And then we seal it up that kind of holes a little bit of humidity. He some dry now because they will dry out in the cooler. If you don't you know. If you hold a very long. And so we try to keep those more humidified and then dry. So anyway. That's what that is. So I know this kind of a busy slide here. But I threw it in because you know I know we're relatively. I mean. Not everybody's doing large volume agriculture. And we aren't either necessarily but we have at times. With This is a machine we've been we've used. So this is a high capacity machine. When we were doing a lot of produce. And we picked this up from another grower and. It's an optical size or. So it's computerized it's rigidly made for potatoes. And we use it for a plant squash cucumbers. But it can be adapted to other things. So it has optics. That sees all sides of the fruit in tells a word to go and get off the belt onto another conveyor and be packed. You know one another aspect I really like about this machine because this isn't. This is also a married machine. It's not all one piece. Is the the pre sorter helps organize that and grade the fruit and. We've not you we have to use it for a number of years so it. It just takes up space right now as we're going to put up. Put on the market. Just to show you so the. This is the pre-sorted. This is a this is made in New Zealand. But this conveyor is. You can divide into three sections so the first. You draw fruit off on the first part. You drop food off on the second part second third and the last third you draw the rest of fruit off the belt and then this is a roller conveyor. So the the fruit is turning. As it's moving. So you can see all sides of the fruit as you stand on these. Tables beside it. And then you pick up the fruit you want you put it these tight conveyors Havel's like in various that move through to another place. In this underneath here is another conveyor that takes your garbage out. So you can just put your fruit on sort of quick. And then it runs through the singular later right here. And through the seeing eye with that's where the optics are has channel. Series of eyes that see underneath. Side top and both sides. And as after it runs through there. The computer tells it to run down this belt right here. And it'll run all the way down here and then these will push Roger push the product office on these a conveyor belt and here which were empty boxes go and they were just as a fruit dropped off into a box and it gives weight on the scales. Now we just put on the conveyor role of Veron palletized and go from there. And so this. This little rolling conveyor here is for of empty boxes. That's where I'd say we had to shoot up stairs. We could just be dead. Boxes down onto those conveyors without having to you need to have somebody else feeding this stuff. Upstairs kind of gets all the packages off the floor. So we have other types of sizers and this is this another one we've used in the past. Case you're looking for something might fit your your window. So this is what I call is a cone sizer and it spins of fruit. Up on its side in the perimeter of this cone and sins of fruit out an adjusted slot. Small to large works best with round fruit. Tomato citrus and INS apples. We've made this patted table. To pack from. But it can be used as a ways to divert fruit. So the fruit comes in hits the in this case you're just dumping say a log box here. You could put it been done for on here whatever. Dumps a fruit on this thing spinning. So the fruit then spends up on its edge. And it moves out to the different slots that are just and with this little. Threaded adjustment with a padded. It's got a padded slot about a foot long. On each one of these sections. And so as a fruit rolls around here it slides out to his different. Compartment. And then you. You can pick it up off this table so I just put padded two by fours. To separate these different compartments. And as a fruit rolls down here them were just standing here in and pick it off the table and pack in a box and put on the conveyor and fall ties and whatever. So that's you know that's just another little system we've used over the years. So some of the other nuances of posts are was handling our Maurice your temperature and ethylene sensitivities for different crops. So I use this chart. Tacked to the back of my RE something but you know so then we might get blamed for something down the road you know. Because we don't know all the things that happen necessarily. So here. That they're waiting almost to the last minute we almost I go out and talk the truck driver and say come on and see what we're just not say you know could you. Base come stalling. And I say you know and because we're finishing up a pal and it's coming in from the field that morning or whatever I'm reporting on truck and it's on its way the same day. They're getting real fresh is a market backs up where we have too much product. You know. I'd say sometimes we could be holden certain products made for a couple weeks. You know so it varies in. With pack than if you know how you do and I pack the same day that school pick in the cooler morning it's called fruit for you need to cool it down we to cool down. And then it's on its way and you know it comes off. Relatively clean. Cucumber we can't really do that cept early stuff. Beats we. We pick and bunch in the field and then we bring him in washing. So we're bunching in the fields. And then we are basically bringing in the bunches. As a bulk and then washing him. And then packing them in in the in the boxes say like this box right here. This might be our beat box. So we're packing all these will do all this. All do all this in the field but we don't wash the dirt off until it gets in. Because he's not have the void of water out there to deal with so and we'll bring man and watch him. And things that they like to. Sometimes I'll make him at home. Will make. We're all try to provides a form but they're also up their own type of apron they like or whatever. So I'm going to diverge a little bit here somewhat to the spiritual side. Because I know this is just a little dry matter here and. And that cost of just kind of what we do but this is a picture I threw in a few things about children. So this is the. The post-harvest I think we really want. Precious children. And you know us even us older children. That's the harvests we. We hope for for eternity. And the question. You know sometimes were asked is how do we teach our children. House we teach our children. And I say start them young. Here's a few quotes. Tell your children about the America working power of God as a study the Great Lakes and lesson book of nature. God will oppress their minds as children. As a children are told of the work that God does for the seed. They will learn the secret of God's grace. And then another. We should so train the use that they will love to engage in the cultivation of the soil. And so far as possible. Let the child from his earliest years be place where this wonderful lesson book. Shall be opened before him. And in all his works. Learn of the Creator. And then from Deuteronomy six seven. And you shall teach them diligently and to your children. And still talk of them. When you sit in your house in your light down when you write to my grandkid this media was brought to you by audio person. A website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio. And much more. If you would like to know more about audio first or you would like to listen to more sermon. Leave it the W.W.W. audio first or.


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