Development of Small-Scale Storage Facilities for Winter Storage of Fresh Produce

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2011: $108,829.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Scott Sanford
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Vegetables: beets, cabbages, carrots, onions, parsnips, rutabagas, cucurbits, turnips


  • Education and Training: demonstration, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, feasibility study
  • Production Systems: general crop production

    Proposal abstract:

    Many small vegetable growers could increase their incomes and supply more local produce by increasing the amount of fall harvested crops that are grown and stored for marketing during the winter months. Winter storage facilities are needed to hold and maintain crop quality during the winter and differ from summer storage in that they need to be able to cool and warm depending on outside temperatures as well as maintain humidity levels. Many of the facilities used currently are not planned well for material handling and lack equipment and controls to maintain proper humidity to keep product weight loss at a minimum. There are limited resources to help growers plan, construct and manage a storage facility. This grant will develop sample plans for an earth-contact storage room, an above-ground storage room and a storage room built into an existing structure. The plans will be scalable so growers can modify them as needed to fit their own situation. We will develop a spreadsheet decision tool to aid growers in determining if winter storage crops will be economical for a growers operation. Extension bulletins will be developed to guide growers though the planning and construction process and management of a storage facility. A grower advisory group will be used to provide input and critique the plans and printed materials. Outreach will be multifaceted utilizing workshops, webinars, printed materials, an informational web site and consulting. Ultimately, the information will provide growers the tools needed to plan, build and manage a storage facility for an economic benefit.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1) Show growers the benefits, challenges and risks of growing and storing fall-harvested produce (e.g., potatoes, onions, carrots, turnips, cabbage, winter squash, sweet potatoes, garlic, beets, leeks, rutabagas, and brussels sprouts) can increase winter income, help maintain contact with consumers and spread out labor requirements.

    2) Aid growers in identifying markets and prices for winter stored produce.

    3) Provide information that will aid growers in selection of crops for cultivation, storage facility types and size, and material handling equipment.

    4) Provide tools to aid growers in determining the economics of winter storage crops for their farm.

    5) Local growers increase incomes

    6) More locally grown produce becomes available through multiple outlets.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.