Pendred enable Cobrey to smooth out the peaks and troughs of a turbulent Asparagus season
We first met the Chinn family at the InterAsper conference in May 2010 and the following season we set up a four week trial in one of the large cold stores at their farm in Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire; originally designed to store potatoes but now needed to store Asparagus.
The main objective was to see if our ‘Tru-fog’ Crop Hydration System could even out the peaks and troughs of supply and demand during the short fourteen week Asparagus season and if possible extend the UK Asparagus season into July.
Weather conditions have a dramatic effect on the growth of Asparagus. If conditions are too warm, growth is accelerated causing over supply and lower market prices. In colder weather, slower growth results in a shortage in supply and higher market prices. Smoothing out these peaks and troughs by taking advantage of the extended storage life provided by Tru-fog hydration would result in security of supply for Cobrey’s customers as well as reliable returns due to reduced waste for Cobrey Farms.
Harvesting Asparagus must currently finish towards the end of June to allow the crowns to go to seed and regenerate themselves for the next season. Peruvian Asparagus imported into the UK in July is expensive and not yet in best condition. This creates an opportunity for British product if still available.
Two Pendred units, which together fog 36 litres/kilograms of purified and de-mineralised water per hour, were installed. The cold room, which holds 40 tonnes of Asparagus at 4 deg.C, was filled with a visible fog of less than 5 micron droplets, minute enough to be naturally absorbed into the crop as required, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The cold rooms, that were originally designed to store Potatoes, are very large and the existing refrigeration was not ideal for such a delicate crop as Asparagus. This format resulted in a loss of 5% moisture/weight over a 72 hour period and allowed a maximum shelf life of about seven days.
The Pendred trial showed that by eliminating de-hydration and increasing turgidity by providing a hydrating Tru-fog, the crop could be held in ‘as picked’ condition for significantly longer than usual. Furthermore, product can actually gain weight through natural hydration, as opposed to losing weight with standard refrigeration. Of note, weight gain can further improve when product is harvested in hotter weather. This capability smoothens the effect of ever-changing supply and demand for the crop, and allows the grower to work with the weather rather than fighting against it.
Due to this success, the following year Chris Chinn equipped two of their large cold stores with the Pendred System. This introduced 865 litres of pure water per day, preventing dehydration and maintaining the product in “as picked” condition.
Over the following years a store twice the size of the Ross on Wye site and another cold store at a second site were equipped with the Pendred Tru-fog system.
For the 2016 season Chris has built another three cold stores on two new sites, and both are currently being equipped with Pendred Tru-fog Crop Hydration systems.