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Extend and Maximize the Post Harvest Quality of High Value and Perishable Crops

Investigators
Gianfagna, Thomas J
Institutions
Rutgers University
Start date
2013
End date
2018
Objective
The goal of this proposal is to develop an organic system to control postharvest fungal diseases of fresh fruit and flowers during shipping and storage using the controlled release of natural antifungal volatile compounds from cyclodextrin in a modified atmosphere package. The results of this research will make it possible to reduce production losses of high value, perishable, organic and conventionally grown horticultural commodities. These losses are estimated as high as 25% in the US and even greater worldwide. Export markets for US blueberries and strawberries could expand as post harvest life is extended and microbial contamination reduced. Cut-flower losses will be reduced increasing profitability of the legal global trade in cut-flowers.. This project addresses NIFA priorities 1. Global Food Security and Hunger and 5. Food Safety by developing organic methods to expand the trade in fresh fruit and flowers, increasing incomes to farmers and workers worldwide, and in a way that reduces microbial contamination of these products.
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NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY:
Small fruit and cut flowers are important horticultural commodities in the US. The annual retail trade in floricultural products is a $32 billion industry. Most cut-flowers sold in the US are grown in Columbia and Ecuador and must be shipped to the US and distributed. Cut flowers are a highly perishable commodity and methods to reduce losses due to fungal disease and senescence during shipping is vital. The small fruit industry is likewise a significant horticultural industry in the US. Strawberries are a $2.3 billion industry. Most fruit are consumed domestically, but are shipped largely from CA and FL throughout the country with a significant export market in Canada. Blueberries are also consumed domestically but with the fresh market industry localized in just a few states (NJ, MI. OR, WA), fruit are shipped nationwide, although there were also 36,000 metric tons exported in 2011. If global export and import markets are to be expanded, shipping and storage of these high value but perishable commodities will require new methods to control disease and senescence of fruits and flowers. This project addresses NIFA priorities 1. Global Food Security and Hunger and 5. Food Safety by developing organic methods to expand the trade in fresh fruit and flowers, increasing incomes to farmers and workers worldwide, and in a way that reduces microbial contamination of these products.

APPROACH:
Fruit will be harvested from local farms in season and transported to the laboratory at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. The fruit will be sorted so as to select only well formed, rot free, and unblemished fruit. Previous experience demonstrated that all healthy appearing fruit nevertheless contain asymptomatic fungal infections so that there is no need to inoculate fruit with pathogens. The fruit will be pre-cooled to a pulp temperature of 5 C and will be packed at 5 C into 6 oz. plastic clamshell packages. There will be 3 packages per treatment with each package receiving 170 - 200 g fruit. Controlled release TyvekTM sachets of 3.5% thyme oil, encapsulated by beta-cyclodextrin will be made. The treatments will consist of a sachet (4x4 cm) made of TyvekTM and filled with either CD alone , or TO encapsulated into CD, and taped into the bottom of a clamshell, and then filled with fruit. Twelve of these clamshells will then be placed either into a cardboard box or into a VFA bag taped and sealed, and stored in a cold room at -1 C with 94% humidity. The fruit will be removed from cold storage after 7d (strawberry) or after 30 d (blueberry) and placed into an incubator set at 15 C for 1 or 3 d. The MAP bags will be removed prior to storage at 15 C. At 1 d post cold storage and at 3 d post cold storage the fruit will be evaluated for weight loss, percentage of disease, firmness, and Brix. In years 4 and 5 thyme oil will be fractionated to discover the active components of the oil. A typical fractionation scheme will employ step-gradient separation using pentanes/diethyl ether on a solid phase extraction column.

PROGRESS:
2013/04 TO 2013/09Target Audience: Nothing Reported Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? An undergraduate student received training in postharvest pathology research. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? Nothing Reported What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? Nothing Reported

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
NJ12125
Accession number
233434
Categories
Parasites
Natural Toxins
Viruses and Prions
Bacterial Pathogens
Chemical Contaminants
Food Defense and Integrity
Commodities
Produce