Location
Brassicas: Application of chlorophyll fluorescence for prediction of harvest maturity in broccoli

Research

FV 425 - Brassicas: Application of chlorophyll fluorescence for prediction of harvest maturity in broccoli

Start Date: 
01/04/2014
Completion Date: 
30/11/2016
Project Leader: 
Dr Richard Colgan, Natural Resources Institute
Code: 
FV 425

Industry representative: Carolyn Coxe, Produce World

HDC project cost: £99,528

 

Project summary:

Identifying the optimum harvest maturity for broccoli is difficult. As a consequence variability in the storage behaviour and shelf-life of the product is often observed within consignments. This project aims to identify methods to monitor maturity and changes in plant health using the technique of chlorophyll fluorescence (CF), thereby affording the opportunity to develop a hand held sensor for use in the field to optimise harvest time. This will be linked to assessments for storage and shelf-life behaviour and the presence of health promoting antioxidants and isothiocyanates. Working closely with Hansatech Instruments Ltd, the project team will identify appropriate adaptations to existing equipment to optimise measurements. Changes in the CF profile of four major broccoli cultivars; Ironman, Parthenon, Marathon and Steel will be followed during maturation in the field, and correlated with morphological and biochemical changes, as well as shelf-life following harvest. This information will be used to identify a strategy to use CF to predict the harvest window for keeping product in store and for optimising practices that maximise the nutritional content of broccoli after harvest.

 

Aims and objectives:

Project aim(s):
To develop a protocol to use chlorophyll fluorescence sensors to aid the prediction of harvest maturity of broccoli
 
Project objective(s):
1) To optimise an existing chlorophyll fluorimeter for use on broccoli heads in collaboration with the manufacturer (Hansatech Instruments Limited)
2) To relate chlorophyll fluorescence profiles of broccoli to maturation in the field as estimated by the effective day degrees after transplant and morphological characteristics
3) To Identify biochemical changes (antioxidants and isothiocyanates) during broccoli head maturation
4) To determine the optimum harvest window for extending the storage and shelf-life of broccoli
5) To model broccoli head maturity, including biochemical and morphological changes in terms of chlorophyll fluorescence profile.
 
Benefits to industry:
 
Reduced wastage and improved productivity
 
The results of this project will be communicated back to growers through the HDC and dissemination events. This will immediately enable growers to use existing equipment to determine optimal harvest time by field. Subsequent development of sensors through Hansatech Instruments will open the opportunities for more sophisticated selection for harvest in the longer term, possibly to the level of individual heads.