Industry representative: Carolyn Coxe, Produce World
HDC project cost: £99,528
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:
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.