Crop Storage Resources

The links on this page have been compiled as resources for those interested in learning more about crop storage, with a particular focus on fruits and vegetables and winter crops.

Please let us know if you have other resources you’d like to see included or if you find any errors in the information.

Workshop Materials

Webinar Recording (Webinar Slides)

Web Resources Mentioned in the Webinar

Workshop Slides (Half Day Workshop)

Workshop Slides (Full Day Workshop)

Workshop Handouts

Five Common Storage Zones

Product Bulk Density Chart

USDA Handbook 66

Heatcraft Engineering Manual

Psychrometric Chart (IP Units), Psychrometric Chart (SI Units) and Psychrometric Calculator

UVM Extension New Farmer Webinar

Other Resource Sites

University of Massachusetts Vegetable Program Post-Harvest and Storage Resources – This site hosts a variety of great resources including a cold storage engineering overview provided by Stephen Belyea (Maine Department of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Resources) and  Crop Storage Facilities Overview by Luke Doody (UMass).

University of Wisconsin Extension has an on-farm storage resources page and recently completed a handbook of on-farm storage practice which is available for purchase.

Case Studies

Cold Storage Options for Small‐Scale Diversified Farms in the Northeast. G. Mason. Green Mountain College. December 2012 – A final report on a research project aimed at documenting current storage practices among small, diversified producers in New England.

Walk-in Coolers for Winter Storage – Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) checked in with some experts—farmers and engineers—to develop resources for farmers interested in on-farm winter storage options. Part of a broader USDA NESARE project run through UMASS Vegetable Program.

Root Cellars

There is a high density of root cellars and a high interest in them in the Atlantic Canadian Provinces.  Root Cellars Rock is a website dedicated to food security issues in Newfoundland and Labrador and is a nice resource for learning more about how these passive systems have worked for cold storage for centuries and more about the growing, harvesting and cooking practices that make the most of them. Memorial University in Newfoundland has compiled a wonderful bibliography of root cellar resources as part of their Root Cellar Traditions page. Additionally, two published books serve as particularly good references: Root Cellaring by Mike and Nancy Bubel and The Complete Root Cellar Book by Steve Maxwell and Jennifer MacKenzie. Steve Maxwell also has a PDF guide including excerpts from the book.

If you’re looking for a simple way to cool with outside air, check out the outside air exchange system I posted on FarmHack.

Cold Boxes

Store-It-Cold’s Guide to Building Your Own Walkin – A guide to resources on building your own walkin cooler from the inventor of the CoolBot(TM).

List of Insulation Values (R-Values) for common building materials.

Summary of Interior Finish Surfaces – This blog post includes a list of materials currently used to achieve “smooth and cleanable” surfaces in coolers and wash areas.

Barr Refrigeration – A national supplier or new and used cooler systems included refrigeration systems.

US Cooler – A national supplier of new walkins and refrigeration equipment. They also have a simple refrigeration load calculator.

The Canada Plan Service has a series of building plans for various agricultural structures including bulk potato storage, greenhouses, and walk-in coolers. They also have a nice introduction to bulk storage of vegetables.

Conditions & Practices

USDA Handbook 66The Commercial Storage of Fruits, Vegetables, and Florist and Nursery Stocks. A guide to long term storage of crops. The handbook is dense with info on optimal storage conditions for everything from Jerusalem Artichokes to Watercress. Each crop is given a brief overview which summarizes the expected loss when stored at certain conditions and also a summary of respiration rates to help with the sizing of any refrigeration that may be needed.

New England Vegetable Management Guide – This is a comprehensive guide for commercial vegetable growers with information on current production and pest management techniques for vegetable crops.

Refrigeration and Controlled Atmosphere for Horticultural Crops (NRAES-22) – This publication provides an overview of refrigeration systems with relevance to horticulture.

UC Davis Post Harvest Technology Center – Postharvest fact sheets, libraries, workshops, etc. “Through the postharvest research and extension programs of 11 Extension Specialists, we strive to provide relevant information to California growers, shippers, marketers, carriers, distributors, retailers, processors, and consumers of fresh horticultural crops.”

FAO – Small-Scale Postharvest Handling Practices: A Manual for Horticultural Crops (4th Edition)

Cornell Cooperative Extension Storage Guidelines For Fruits & Vegetables – This fact sheet includes a nice table which summarizes the most common storage “zones” or “groups” based on temperature and humidity.


Ethylene is a naturally ocuring ripening hormone.  Its effect in storage is to hasten ripening, decay and eventually crop loss.  It will also result in off-flavors in the interrim.  USDA Handbook 66 provides background on ethylene’s importance in food storage.  CSJ Ethylene Filters provides a summary chart of ethylene production rates and sensitivity for various crops.  They also sell ethylene scrubbers that are relatively easy to install in small-scale coolers and root cellars.

Refrigeration Systems

A Basic Overview of Refrigeration Systems – An overview of the main components and operation of a basic refrigeration system.  Best paired with this video.

Heatcraft Engineering Manual – A collection of cooler and refrigeration sizing resources and guidelines from a refrigeration equipment manufacturer.  Includes optimal storage conditions (Temperature and RH) for common fruit and vegetable crops as well as specific heat (for doing pre-cooling calculations) and bulk packing density (for sizing coolers).

CoolBot(TM) Overview – Chris’ blog post summarizing CoolBots(TM) with links to several other related resources.

Thermostats – This blog post provides guidance on what to look for in a thermostat.

Maintenance Checklists

Maintenance Checklist from Northeast Cooling.

US Cooler Maintenance Checklist


Bulk Density Chart – How many cubic feet does a pound of a certain product take up in storage.

Psychrometric Chart – Ambient Pressure – Low Temperature (IP Units) (SI Units)

Psychrometric Chart – Ambient Pressure – Normal Temperature (IP Units) (SI Units)

Psychrometric Calculator (online)- An online calculator for determining combinations of dry bulb, wet bulb, RH, dew point, etc.

Psychrometric Calculator (app) – HVAC Psychrometric Plus (iOS),  Air Lite (Android)

PsychroCalc Excel Add-in – If you’re doing a bunch of psychrometric calculations this Excel add-in can make life a lot easier.  I put it together to help me do calculations for humidification and drying applications.  Take a look.

Quick Refrigeration Load Calculator Online – US Cooler’s quick and dirty cooling load calculator for a rough estimate.


Bucket Humidifier – This is a DIY design for making a high capacity, auto-fill humidifier from a steel bucket.

How to Use a Sling Psychrometer – This is still considered the best way to accurately measure dry-bulb temperature and wet-bulb temperature in order to arrive at a measure of relative humidity.

Food Safety Resources

UVM Extension Center for Sustainability Good Agricultural Practices resource page.

Iowa State Leopold Center PowerPoint/PDF – Summarizes Good Agricultural Practices and available resources.

Funding Opportunities

FSA’s Farm Storage Facility Loan Program.

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