Chickory roots are harvested from the field, then put in large 4-foot-by-4-foot-by-4-foot bins under cold storage to push them into dormancy.
The second step involves pulling the roots from the cold and forcing them to grow in dark rooms to produce the endive. Currently, California Endive Farms uses all wooden bins. But co-owner Richard Collins says he wanted to test whether plastic bins might work better.
“I have a very skeptical board of directors, so we just needed to demonstrate the value and validity of the investment before we would commit to quite a bit of money to change over from wood to plastic,” he says.
So far, it appears precooling of the roots as they come in from the field has been cut by one-half to two thirds with the plastic bins, Collins says.
That should equate to a large energy and cost savings and a boost in capacity.