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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service



2006 Annual Report

1.What major problem or issue is being resolved and how are you resolving it (summarize project aims and objectives)? How serious is the problem? Why does it matter?
Loss of fruits and vegetables to spoilage was estimated to be 25% in temperate climates and higher in tropical regions. Worldwide citrus fresh fruit losses to decay were estimated in 1990 to be about 23-33% of the harvested crop. These figures would suggest that spoilage losses of the U.S. citrus crop amount to about $300 million annually. Postharvest losses are especially expensive because they include the costs of shipping and packing, whereas losses on the farm cost less. The loss of internal quality, such as texture and flavor, is less apt than spoilage to result in rejection of the product, but often result in reduced repeat sales. The growing organic market requires development of organically acceptable postharvest treatments that include methods for sanitation, decay control and protective coatings.

The quality of fruits and vegetables declines after harvest, meanwhile, quality and preservation of whole and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables is of considerable importance in determining their marketability and consumption. At the same time that increased sanitation and reduced spoilage is expected, there has been loss of approved fungicides. In addition, consumers are expecting greater availability of fruits and vegetables with the 'organic' label. This situation calls for development of new and more 'green' technologies to provide the quality and shelf life that the market demands. Furthermore, increased international trade calls for longer shelf-life to cope with more distant surface transport of commodities.

The proposed research is highly relevant to National Program Area 306, "Quality and Utilization of Agricultural Products", Component 1, "Quality Characterization, Preservation and Enhancement". It addresses the prevention of decay and quality loss after harvest and development of "environmentally friendly" products and technologies, which are fundamental tenets of NP 306. The project has three specific goals:.
1)to develop improved technology, including new uses for coatings to preserve the quality, edibility and storability of fresh produce,.
2)to develop a better model and understanding of how fruit coatings influence concentrations of internal gases and aroma volatiles, and.
3)to develop methods to improve the quality, edibility and storability of fresh-cut produce, while controlling the growth of spoilage organisms. Successful completion of these goals would benefit the fresh produce industry, packers and retail outlets.

2.List by year the currently approved milestones (indicators of research progress)
Year 1 (FY 2005) 1. Undertake field survey of micro flora in citrus groves.

2. Test coatings with elicitors and organic oils on citrus and strawberry.

3. Measure peel barriers to some compounds.

4. Develop new organic coatings.

5. Test elicitors on phytoalexins on fresh-cut produce.

Year 2 (FY 2006) 1. Repeat field studies and start to develop predictive model for preharvest factors.

2. Prepare manuscripts on preharvest methodology and efficacy of coating treatments.

3. Develop predictive models for coating permeability effects on fruit quality.

4. Prepare manuscript on models.

5. Combine elicitors and phytoalexins with coatings and test on fresh-cut produce.

6. Prepare manuscripts on elicitor work.

Year 3 (FY 2007) 1. Evaluation of coatings to reduce microflora.

2. Survey microflora in fruit downstream from packinghouses.

3. Prepare manuscripts on preharvest predictions and coating work.

4. Validate models on coating permeability effects on fruit quality.

5. Transfer technology.

6. Try successful treatments on commercial scale and on other types of produce.

7. Prepare manuscripts on coating work.

Year 4 (FY 2008) 1. Develop packing house guidelines based on survey data.

2. Prepare manuscripts on coating data.

3. Transfer technology on coating work and pre-harvest predictions.

4. Measure peel barriers for hydrophilic compounds.

5. Prepare manuscripts on coating models.

6. Optimize and transfer technology.

Year 5 (FY 2009) 1. Conclude studies/Objective 1.

2. Prepare manuscripts and complete technology transfer/Objective 1

3. Conclude studies/Objective 2.

4. Prepare manuscripts and complete technology transfer/Objective 2.

5. Conclude studies/Objective 3.

6. Prepare manuscripts and complete technology transfer/Objective 3.

4a.List the single most significant research accomplishment during FY 2006.
Pre-harvest sanitation spays reduce postharvest decay: Demonstrated that pre-harvest sanitation treatment of strawberries in the field with and without subsequent postharvest treatments can affect fresh and fresh-cut postharvest decay and shelf life which relates to NP 306, Component 1, "Quality Characterization, Preservation and Enhancement". Strawberries in the field were sprayed with peroxyacetic acid, which is soon to be approved for the organic market. Strawberry fruit are very perishable and are packed into commercial retail containers directly in the field to avoid postharvest handling damage, thus pre-harvest treatments would be most acceptable to the industry. The pre-harvest treatment with hydrogen peroxide at the Florida Strawberry Association fields in Dover, FL, reduced postharvest decay and extended shelf life. This was enhanced by postharvest surface treatments, conducted at the ARS, Citrus & Subtropical Products Laboratory, Winter Haven, FL, especially for cut (topped) berries. Extending strawberry shelf life by reducing decay will benefit the industry by extending shipping distances and marketing windows.

4b.List other significant research accomplishment(s), if any.
Sanitation of whole fruit with peroxyacetic acid reduces contamination of fresh cut pieces: Developed an organically-compatible method to sanitize whole fruit for the reduction of microbial populations on both the intact and subsequent cut fruit product, which relates to NP 306, "Quality and Utilization of Agricultural Products", Component 1, "Quality Characterization, Preservation and Enhancement". Oranges and mangoes were treated with peroxyacetic and citric acids at the ARS, Citrus & Subtropical Products Laboratory, Winter Haven, FL, then the mangoes and oranges were peeled and the flesh sliced, packaged, stored and evaluated for microbial populations. Microbial populations result in decay and deterioration of the intact, and especially, fresh-cut fruit pieces. The peroxyacetic acid out-performed the standard chlorine sanitizer for intact oranges and mangoes and subsequent fresh-cut mango pieces, and is potentially compatible with the organic label. Citric acid reduced the microbial load of enzyme-peeled citrus. This research will enable packinghouses to make informed decisions when choosing a sanitizer for intact fruit, especially if the fruit are destined for a fresh-cut product and/or the organic product.

4c.List significant activities that support special target populations.

5.Describe the major accomplishments to date and their predicted or actual impact.
Pre-treatment of intact apples and mangoes with ethanol, 1-methylcycloprene, or heat and post cutting treatment with edible coatings was shown to affect subsequent cut slice quality and shelf life, which may contribute to the successful commercialization of these products.

All accomplishments contribute to the mission of NP 306, "Quality and Utilization of Agricultural Products", Component 1, "Quality Characterization, Preservation and Enhancement".

6.What science and/or technologies have been transferred and to whom? When is the science and/or technology likely to become available to the end-user (industry, farmer, other scientists)? What are the constraints, if known, to the adoption and durability of the technology products?
Work on the project was presented to the commodity group annual meetings (Florida Packers Association, Florida Strawberry Association).

Work on citrus coatings and cut fruit was presented at local and regional field days (University of Florida Packing House Day, University of Florida and ARS Processors Day and Subtropical Technology Conference), workshops, national scientific meetings, the International Fresh Cut Association annual meeting and the S-294 Regional Working Group "Postharvest Quality and Safety in Fresh Cut Vegetables and Fruits".

Presentations on edible coatings were given at a Chinese institute and university.

7.List your most important publications in the popular press and presentations to organizations and articles written about your work. (NOTE: List your peer reviewed publications below).
Pinnavaia, S., Narciso, J., Plotto, A., Baldwin, E. Citric acid can control microbial growth in enzyme peeled orange without affecting eating quality. International Fresh-Cut Processors Association Meeting, Baltimore, MD, April 26, 2006.

Narciso, J.A. A review of sanitizing methods used in Florida on packinglines. 29th Annual Citrus Postharvest Pest Control Meeting, Santa Barbara, CA, May 8, 2006.

Narciso, J.A. Assessing methods to clean fruit surfaces. 29th Annual Citrus Postharvest Pest Control Meeting, Santa Barbara, CA, May 8, 2006.

Narciso, J. Packingline sanitizers for use against canker and decay pathogens. IFAS Packinghouse Newsletter, University of Florida, August, 2006.

Narciso, J. Extending shelf-life [of strawberries] with a pre-harvest non-residual spray. Agritech Meeting, Plant City, FL, August, 2006.

Review Publications
Plotto, A., Bai, J., Narciso, J.A., Brecht, J., Baldwin, E.A. 2006. Ethanol vapor prior to processing extends fresh-cut mango storage by decreasomg spoilage, but does not always delay ripening. Postharvest Biology and Technology. 39:134-145.

Baldwin, E.A., Wood, B.W. 2006. Use of edible coating to preserve pecans at room temperature. HortScience. 41(1):188-192.

Plotto, A., Narciso, J.A. 2006. Guidelines and acceptable postharvest practices for organically grown produce. HortScience. 41(2):287-291.

Narciso, J., Plotto, A. 2005. A comparison of sanitation systems for fresh-cut mango. HortTechnology. 15(4):837-842.

Georgelis, N., Scott, J.W., Baldwin, E.A. 2006. Inheritance of high sugars from tomato accession PI270248 and environmental variation between seasons. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science. 131(1):41-45.

Pinnavaia, S., Plotto, A., Baldwin, E.A., Narciso, J.A. 2006. Enzyme-peeled oranges for fresh-cut slices. Florida State Horticulture Society and Citrus Industry. Paper No. 41.

Plotto, A., Rattanapanone, N. 2006. Edible coatings for lychee fruit to maintain color in storage. Florida State Horticultural Society Meeting. Paper No. 38.

Baldwin, E., Narciso, J., Cameron, R., Plotto, A. 2006. Effect of pectin oligomers on strawberry fruit decay and ethylene production. HortScience. 41(4):1044.

Baldwin, E. 2006. Current research programs at the USDA/ARS Citrus and Subtropical Products Laboratory. HortScience. 40(3):504.

Mahattanatawee, K., Baldwin, E., Goodner, K., Manthey, J., Luzio, G. 2006. Nutritional components in select Florida tropical fruits. HortScience. 40(3):504.

Narciso, J., Baldwin, E., Plotto, A. 2006. Testing antifungal competency of compounds against some postharvest pathogens using the disc assay method. HortScience. 40(3):511.

Scott, J.W., Baldwin, E. 2006. 'Flora-Lee': a field tomato for the premium tomato market. Tomato Quality Workshop Proceedings. Paper No. 17.

Ritenour, M., Narciso, J.A. 2006. Postharvest calcium chloride dips of whole tomato fruit reduce postharvest decay under commercial conditions. HortScience. 41(4):1016-1017.

Pinnavaia, S., Plotto, A., Baldwin, E.A., Narciso, J.A. 2005. Enzyme peeling of 'Valencia' orange for fresh-cut slices. Subtropical Technology Conference Proceedings. 56:24-25.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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