An investigation into fresh produce quality issues has recently been published by researchers from the Harper Adams Centre for Crop and Environment Science (CCES).
Dr. Andrew Beacham and Professor Jim Monaghan have been investigating the problem of tip burn in lettuce crops. This condition causes the browning and collapse of leaves and is an important issue for the fresh produce industry.
Dr. Beacham said: “Tipburn is a difficult problem to control, and even to investigate because it can be influenced by a range of environmental factors which can alter the occurrence and severity of symptoms. Because of this, it is a key quality concern for growers and can result in the rejection of entire crops.”
The work required the development of a custom-built hydroponic system to measure the development of the condition in lettuce plants grown in a soil-free nutrient solution. The team then used this system to identify differences in resistance to tip burn across numerous lettuce varieties. This work was funded by Defra and carried out with colleagues at the University of Warwick. The results were published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.
“By screening many different lettuce varieties, we were able to identify those with the best levels of resistance to tip burn which can now proceed to crop breeding programs to help generate improved varieties,” said Professor Monaghan.
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