It happens every harvest – you look at your potato storage capacity and wonder, “Do I have enough – is it time to expand?” When you decide it is time to increase or update your storage facilities, your first question will most likely be, “Where do I start?” Here are some beginning questions to help organize your thoughts as you consider expanding your storage capacity.
- Where is my potato production headed? How much production do I anticipate having in five, 10 years? Is that a realistic goal – what plans do I have to reach my goal?
- How much can I afford to invest now to expand capacity for future production – how far will this take me toward my long-term goals?
- How will my potatoes be used – for processing or for the fresh market? How will this affect the features I need in a new storage facility?
- Do I need state-of-the-art automation that anticipates future technology?
- What are potential building designs, styles and builders? What are their individual strengths and preferences? How do they align with my preferences? Are their designs sufficiently flexible to accommodate my specific requirements?
- What are my companies of choice for storage ventilation systems?
- What is my timeline for completion?
Interview Multiple Builders
Each new project begins with two plans – your vision of what your ideal facility should be and the builder/supplier’s vision of what is most reasonably and economically possible. The finished project will most likely be a healthy meld of those two visions. It is a good plan to visit more than one contractor. Listen to their preferences, understand how their experiences are shaping their preferences. Do they offer good, better, best solutions? Understand the differences. Know how each builder’s solution compares to the others.
In the long run, what starts out as least expensive today can become most expensive if it soon becomes outdated and must be replaced with newer, up-to-date equipment. Today’s best quality system package, for example, will become a less competitive, good quality product when it is replaced in a few years by a newer and improved best quality package. Think mobile phones and how quickly today’s “must have” device becomes tomorrow’s cast off.
In future articles I will present more detailed discussions to help you plan and evaluate options to expand your potato storage capacity.