Venting Rooms: An Overlooked Necessity
As loads of produce further in the ripening cycle, Carbon Dioxide (CO2) levels increase tremendously. As a byproduct of the ripening process, the carbon dioxide retards the ripening of most fruits and it can reduce the effectiveness of ethylene that has been applied to the fruit. In addition, oxygen levels decrease as the ripening fruit takes in oxygen and expels carbon dioxide.
OXYGEN IS KEY TO THE PROCESS
Oxygen is vital to the process and must be replenished. To ensure this, venting must occur to reduce the carbon dioxide levels and replenish the oxygen within the ripening room. Proper venting should be done several times during the ripening process or continuously. The simplest method of ripening room ventilation is by opening the doors and leaving the fans on. Fresh air then quickly disperses the carbon dioxide, allowing oxygen to be replenished within ten to fifteen minutes. This procedure should be performed twenty-four hours after the initial ethylene application and then regularly daily thereafter.
Alternatively, “flow-through” ventilation can be used to vent ripening rooms. This technique is commonly used in many large tomato rooms but also applicable to banana and avocado ripening. The “flow-through” ventilation process involves placing two openings on opposite ends and sides of the room. An air intake fan is also mounted in one of the openings; room dimensions determine the fan size. This method ensures the air in the room is constantly being exchanged, maintaining proper oxygen levels and continuously removing carbon dioxide.
IMPROVE YOUR RIPENING PROCESS
Many ripening rooms are now vented automatically, controlled by a CO2 sensor, either inherent in the ripening rooms build or by adding a sensor.
The optimal ripening room level should be below 1% or 10,000ppm.
If venting is not part of your company’s ripening procedures, consideration should be given to its many benefits. Venting is a valuable tool, used by ripeners worldwide, helping to ensure the proper ripening of valuable fruit.