Harvesting is a key time to ensure good crop quality, but some preharvest factors must be taken into account to maximise horticultural crop quality. Factors such as production and soil management, variety selection, irrigation and pest management are critical to ensure good crop quality.
One of the important factors to take into account is soil texture. For example, when grown in muddy soils, carrots contain higher amounts of terpenoids (chemical compounds which give a sour taste) than those grown in sandy soils.
It is essential for a soil to have an appropriate moisture content before harvest. Hydric stress during the growth period of a plant can alter the size of the harvestable part and lead to soft or dehydrated fruits. Conversely, excess water during a plant’s growth period can result in the dilution of soluble solids and acids, which will affect the taste and nutritional quality of fruits and vegetables.
One of the recommendations to reduce the amount of water in harvested and stored vegetables, according to the web portal Agroalimentando, is to use surface or subsurface irrigation in the days prior to harvest.
Pest infestations during the growth period can affect postharvest quality with, for example, blemishes on the surface of the vegetable or fruit.
Beyond the visual aspect, which influences the consumer’s purchase decision, these blemishes can damage the surface and cause perforations, which will increase the likelihood of postharvest diseases.
It is very important to know the ideal harvest time of the different varieties of a crop, as crops harvested at an incorrect point of ripening will also show poor postharvest quality.
For example, fruits and vegetables harvested when still unripe are highly likely to dry out and suffer mechanical damage. When harvested after their ideal point of ripening, their taste and texture is usually deficient. Another example is when harvesting is carried out at suboptimal times, which may result in postharvest physiological disorders.
Production techniques with biostimulants
Biostimulants play a key role in ensuring good preharvest quality. Strensil, of Lida Plant Research‘s plant biostimulant range, is a biostimulant composed of glucosamine silicate, which improves the mechanical resistance of the vascular and epidermal cells of stems, leaves and fruits, leading to stronger and more vigorous plants.
Another of our products aimed at improving preharvest quality is lidafol-KL, of our plant nutrition range, which promotes fruit ripening by boosting the organoleptic metabolic changes that determine fruit quality.