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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: GENETIC AND BIOCHEMICAL MECHANISMS DETERMINING FRESH PRODUCE QUALITY AND STORAGE LIFE

Location: Food Quality Laboratory

Title: Pre-harvest calcium application increases biomass and delays senescence of broccoli microgreens

Authors
item Kou, Liping -
item Yang, Tianbao
item Luo, Yaguang
item Liu, Xianjin -
item Huang, Luhong -
item Codling, Eton

Submitted to: Postharvest Biology and Technology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 3, 2013
Publication Date: August 3, 2013
Citation: Kou, L., Yang, T., Luo, Y., Liu, X., Huang, L., Codling, E.E. 2013. Pre-harvest calcium application increases biomass and delays senescence of broccoli microgreens. Postharvest Biology and Technology. 87:70-78.

Interpretive Summary: Microgreen consumption has been steadily increasing in recent years due to consumer awareness of their unique color, rich flavor, and concentrated bioactive compounds such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. However, industrial production and marketing is limited by their short shelf-life associated with rapid deterioration in product quality. This study investigated the effect of pre-harvest calcium application on the post-harvest quality and shelf-life of broccoli microgreens. Various concentrations of calcium were used to spray broccoli seedlings, a popular microgreen. The calcium treatment increased the yield over 50%, and calcium content by more than three times. After harvest, calcium treated microgreens had a shelf life up to 21 days with acceptable quality, whereas non-treated microgreens lasted only 14 days. These results provide important information for the improvement of industrial applications and retail marketing of broccoli microgreens through enhancing productivity while also improving postharvest quality and shelf-life.

Technical Abstract: Microgreen consumption has been steadily increasing in recent years due to consumer awareness of their unique color, rich flavor, and concentrated bioactive compounds such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. However, industrial production and marketing is limited by their short shelf-life associated with rapid deterioration in product quality. This study investigated the effect of pre-harvest calcium application on the post-harvest quality and shelf-life of broccoli microgreens. Various concentrations of calcium chloride, or water (control) were sprayed onto broccoli microgreen seedlings once a day for up to 10 days. The seedlings were harvested and packaged in sealed polyethylene film bags with a selected oxygen transmission rate. Package headspace atmospheric conditions, product visual quality and tissue membrane integrity were evaluated on days 0, 7, 14, and 21, during 5 °C storage. Results indicated that the 10 mM calcium chloride treatment increased the biomass by more than 50%, and it also tripled the calcium content of microgreens as compared to the water-spray control. Microgreens treated with 10 mM calcium chloride spray also exhibited higher superoxide dismutase and peroxidase activities, lower tissue electrolyte leakage, improved overall visual quality, and reduced microbial growth during storage. Furthermore, calcium treatment significantly affected expression of the senescence associated genes. These results provide important information for the improvement of industrial applications and retail marketing of broccoli microgreens through enhancing productivity while also improving postharvest quality and shelf-life.

Last Modified: 7/3/2015
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