With regions across the country breaking high temperature records this summer, running produce has never been more challenging. We recently talked to owner operator and veteran reefer driver Tamara Spivey about best practices for hauling refrigerated cargo and how to ensure that the load arrives in good condition. Tamara offered us these tips for hauling produce during this hot summer season.

1. Keep Your Fuel Tank at Least Half-Full 

Fuel is what is keeping that refrigerated trailer at the correct temperature for the load. If you don’t have enough fuel, you can’t keep the reefer at the right temperature. It’s that simple. That’s why Tamara recommends that you keep a close eye on your fuel gauges. 

Don’t let your fuel tank go below half-full,” Tamara said. “That’s especially true in warm climates, where you’ll use more fuel to keep the load cool.” 

Don’t let your fuel tank go below half-full,” Tamara said. “That’s especially true in warm climates, where you’ll use more fuel to keep the load cool.”

Keeping your fuel tanks at least half full and fueling up whenever you stop ensures that your reefer has the all the fuel it needs to maintain the proper temperature — in summer and winter, and everything in between. 

2. Maintain the Correct Temperature

When you’re hauling produce and other perishables, you have to maintain the correct temperature in your reefer. If you don’t meet the specific temperature requirements for the load, you’re at risk of spoiling the load, which could mean a big financial loss for you — never mind what it could do to your relationship with the shipper/broker. 

“You’ve got to always keep an eye on your temperatures and make adjustments to your settings if the interior temperature gets too high or low,” advises Tamara. 

The indicator light for the reefer shows you the working status of the reefer unit and the fuel status of its cooling unit. These lights should always read green, otherwise, something is wrong. 

“Make sure that you see that green light,” advises Tamara. “If it’s yellow or orange, that’s something you have to pay attention to.” 

“Make sure that you see that green light,” advises Tamara. “If it’s yellow or orange, that’s something you have to pay attention to.”

Anything from a temperature problem to a fluid leak or a condenser malfunction can cause you to see a yellow or orange indicator light. If you see that orange or yellow light, it’s important to attend to it immediately.

3. Practice Patience

Because produce and other perishables must be stored and transported at specific temperatures, timing is everything. According to Tamara, a good dose of patience goes a long way when you’re hauling reefer.

“There can be a lot of hurry up and wait when you’re hauling produce,” Tamara said. “You have to be patient and wait for the reefer to get to the correct temp. With produce, sometimes you get there and the produce hasn’t even been pulled out of the field and you have to wait in the staging area in your truck. You just have to be patient.”

To learn more about Tamara, visit https://www.facebook.com/sistablogging/

Read Owner Op Tamara Spivey on Truck Parking in Atlanta, Advice for New Drivers and the Value of Trucker Tools’ Driver App for the rest of our conversation with Tamara. To download Trucker Tools’ free driver app, visit https://www.truckertools.com/web/carriers/.