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Baby-Leaf Spinach: Investigating the impact of pre-harvest treatments on shelf-life and quality

Research

FV 438 - Baby-Leaf Spinach: Investigating the impact of pre-harvest treatments on shelf-life and quality

Start Date: 
02/04/2014
Completion Date: 
31/01/2015
Project Leader: 
Angela Huckle, ADAS
Code: 
FV 438

 

Industry representative: Graham Clarkson, Vitacress

HDC project cost: £46,591

 

The Problem:

Shelf-life of leafy salads is a critical quality component in satisfying retailers’ and consumers’ demands for visually appealing, palatable, and safe products. Poor shelf-life can lead to withdrawal of product from shelves, or early disposal in the consumer’s home, which thereby reduces the likelihood of repeat sales. Poor shelf-life therefore is a big cost to growers through disposal and loss of future sales. Products and technologies such as biological agents, calcium treatments and seaweed extracts are reported to increase plant strength and stress tolerance level, sometimes with an additional growth response that results in higher marketable yield and extended shelf-life. Such products may be very valuable, but the scientific evidence upon which these claims are made is scant. Moreover, many of these claims may actually be without foundation. It is difficult for the industry to test these products under controlled conditions, and make the necessary shelf-life assessments to be able to fully evaluate the products and quantify their benefits, if any. There is therefore a pressing need to independently assess such products.
 
 
Aims and objectives:
 
(i) Project aim(s): To evaluate the ability of a range of commercial plant health and fertilizer products during in-field production to boost yield and extend post harvest shelf-life
 
(ii) Project objective(s):
1. To carry out field experiments on growers’ premises (baby leaf spinach) and apply commercial products which claim to improve robustness and shelf-life,
2. To measure yield and monitor shelf-life post-harvest of the fresh produce,
3. To quantify the potential commercial benefits of such products in terms of yield, quality and shelf-life extension.