Seed World

4 Research Projects on the Path to Improve Quality of Fresh Produce

In honor of National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month this June, the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) highlights projects that are discovering innovative ways to support the growing global food demand, combat hunger and food insecurity and guarantee affordable nutritious foods.

1. Precision Combustion, Inc., in North Haven, Connecticut

Precision Combustion, Inc. is focusing on, “the use of its compact high-efficiency reactor for control of ethylene and other volatile organic compounds that are naturally generated by produce during transportation and controlled atmosphere storage,” shared a release from the USDA.

The system’s goal is to allow enhanced storage life and freshness for various tree fruits and vegetable crops, while decreasing spoilage.

2. Cornell University in Ithaca, New York

Scientists at Cornell University hope to characterize established genetic systems behind carotenoid accumulation to reveal new paths to higher-quality food and health.

Carotenoids are pigments that manufacture bright red, yellow and orange in the plants. Winter squash and pumpkin are two of the richest sources of carotenoids consumed by humans. Understanding the genetic and molecular foundation underlying carotenoid accumulation is essential to improve human health and nutrition, according to the release.

Dietary carotenoids are believed to provide health benefits in reducing the risk of disease, such as certain cancers and eye disease.

3. North Carolina State University

Improved strategies that protect crops, yet do not harm the environment and consumers, are key to overcoming the impacts of plant disease.

Scientists at North Carolina State University are creating management strategies to combat bacterial plant pathogens by investigating a common threat to peaches.

“The particular bacterial pathogen being studied is able to evolve resistance to many of the management strategies currently available to treat infections and can be devastating to peach growers,” explained the release.

4. West Virginia State University

West Virginia State University has launched grafting techniques to increase resiliency and marketing opportunities for U.S. watermelon growers by optimizing returns on investment and addressing fruit stress factors.

Read More About NIFA:

USDA NIFA Works to Improve Dietary Health and Reduce Food Insecurity

NIFA Invests $15.5M in Food and Agriculture Cyberinformatics Tools to Boost Agricultural Production

NIFA Invests Over $7 Million in Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, and Other Cyberinformatics Research

USDA-NIFA and NSF Establish Network of AI Research Institutes