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Produce Packing – Field or Packing House

Jordan DeVries

Mighty Oak Orchards

Farm Overview

Mighty Oak Orchards in Manistee, Michigan grows 3 acres of organic heritage apples on a hillside orchard, selling to pick-your-own customers and providing apples to Little Red Organics CSA.

Related PSRA Questions

Overlapping NIRCS EQIP

Produce Packing - Field or Packing House

Budget/Cost Breakdown

Bayer Serenade spray application: $325; NuFarm Agri-Mycin Spray Application $156; Bayer Sonata spray application: $209; Stihl Backpack Sprayer: $424; NatureKleen 120V Ozone Generator (purchased specifically for project) $219.49; 24” x 16” collapsible plastic produce containers: $71.60 (purchased specifically for project). Total project estimate, above previous purchases: $291.09

Instructions for Replication

The use of biological originated materials, such as Streptomycin, Bacillius spp. and Kasugamycin for disease control in fruit crops poses unique consideration for sanitation practices for food safety. Because these products are biological in their origin, pathogen inactivation in the equipment that would be used to apply them requires careful use of food safe cholorine bleach or peroxyacetic acid. Sprayers must be washed after sanitation procedures, as any residue of chorine or hydrogen peroxide risks decreasing the population of beneficial microorganisms or binding or oxidating active sites the antibiotic compound within the spray tank, making them less effective. The rinsate resulting from this wash process is considered a pesticide, requiring collection into a holding tank and pickup by a septage hauler. Aqueous Ozone, or O3 oxygen produced through electrolysis of atmospheric O2, which is then bubbled into water through an air stone, is a promising decontamination alternative to chlorine bleach or peroxyacetic acid. In laboratory conditions, this technology has proved capable of achieving similar experimentally-derived decontamination results without the use of a chemical sanitizing agent (1). When dissolved in water, O3 is harmless to users and simply off-gasses to the atmosphere in a matter of hours. Leaving no chemical residue allows for alleviating the step of rinsing the spray tank prior to the use of biological origin disease control products. This short retention time presents a problem in the need for farmers to produce and use the aqueous ozone on-site. Mighty Oak Orchards will document on the effectiveness of microorganism deactivation using aqueous ozone by using ATP testing strips provided to Alliance Analytical Labs in Coopersville, MI. Additionally, aqueous ozone also presents an ability for use in postharvest decontamination, specifically for field container cleaning and sanitation. This technology is a solution that would make it easier for farmers to clean and sanitize containers directly touching raw produce in its ready to eat form, after washing or packing/grading. In the past Mighty Oak Orchards took containers to a container wash area at Little Red Organics farm to be dipped in a water and food-grade Sanidate peroxyacetic acid solution. With on-site aqueous ozone, containers have the potential to be cleaned in the field or in areas without wastewater holding for the used sanitizer solution. It has been reported by some that aqueous ozone is also useful in decontaminating surfaces of raw produce. While promising, this should not take place of preventative produce safety practices; therefore, this project will only look at the potential for aqueous ozone to decontaminate the inside of spray equipment and raw produce handling containers. To replicate this innovation, a grower or packer would need to purchase an Ozone generator. The NatureKleen 120V ozone generator is a fairly basic, homeowner specific model. It is available on Amazon.com for about $220.00. If a grower wanted a more technologically advanced product, the Tersano Lotus Pro stabilized aqueous ozone sanitizing system can also be purchased through Amazon.com for $1,000.00, which requires an ozone cartridge that cost $379.00. With the aqueous ozone system of their choice, the grower would simply produce enough aqueous ozone to fill the sprayer tank or a dunk-tank for container washing. They would need to place the aqueous ozone in the tank for long enough for the Ozone to affect any pathogenic microorganisms, a process that should take about 30 minutes, although the ozone remains dissolved in the water for about 6 hours and is still effective at cleaning, but not sanitizing, during that time. Finally, after a 6 hour period, the ozone water can be discharged from the sprayer or dunk-tank onto the ground, preferably away from any raw produce.  1) Marino M, Maifreni M, Baggio A and Innocente N (2018) Inactivation of Foodborne Bacteria Biofilms by Aqueous and Gaseous Ozone. Front. Microbiol. 9:2024.

Technical Advisors and Sources Used

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