Keywords: consumer satisfaction, dry matter, taste, flavour, microclimate, mineral nutrition, calcium, harvest maturity, ethylene, transgenic plants, supply chain management, postharvest product quality, preharvest conditions, genetic crops, GM crops, protected cropping, harvest quality, postharvest deterioration
An overview of preharvest factors influencing postharvest quality of horticultural products
Postharvest product quality develops during growing of the product and is maintained, not improved by postharvest technologies. Available genetic material allows discrimination of external and internal quality attributes that must satisfy consumer requirements and indulgences. Farmers face challenges in utilising technologies for producing high quality crops; meaningful manipulation of light, nutrients, water and plants is possible only when plant responses to environmental conditions are understood. Genetic engineering can produce plants with desirable characteristics, but society is not yet convinced that benefits gained outweigh risks. Protected cropping enables growers to produce consistent crops in environments where production is often variable, and production of high value crops 'out of season'. Farmers, scientists, extension specialists and market personnel must work together to provide knowledge, best practices and enabling tools for growers to ensure preharvest conditions are optimised for production of high quality horticultural crops that titillate, satisfy and reward discerning consumers.