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Increasing nitrogen-fixing capacity of soybeans

Assistant professor Senthil Subramanian has become the first South Dakota State University plant scientist to receive a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development award.

The NSF Career grant is given to junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research. Subramanian is the fifth SDSU faculty member since 1997 to receive this award.

The five-year grant for nearly $ 660,000 will support research to identify the plant mechanisms that direct and coordinate formation of the soybean nodule. Using this knowledge, Subramanian hopes to develop soybeans that are more efficient in making nodules and fixing nitrogen by manipulating the molecular mechanisms that regulate these functions. If this can be done with legumes, such as soybeans, perhaps this trait can be transferred to other crops that don’t fix nitrogen, he added.

Crops that produce more nitrogen will require less fertilizer, thus lowering production costs and reducing the potential for runoff that can impact the environment, according to Subramanian.

Making usable nitrogen

While nitrogen is abundant in the atmosphere, it is not in a form plants can use, Subramanian explained. Legumes, such as soybean plants, have the capacity to form mutually beneficial relationships with bacteria in the soil to fix nitrogen.

“The plant houses the bacteria in a structure where the biochemical conditions are conducive for the bacteria to fix nitrogen,” Subramanian said. The plant provides the bacteria with carbohydrates and gets nitrogen in return.

The bacteria, called Rhizobium, enter the root cells of young plants and trigger the formation of nodules to house the bacteria, he explained. Within the nodules, two distinct zones — one that fixes the nitrogen and another that transports it to the plant — are formed from the same pre-existing root cells.

Determining target genes

The expression of specific genes in a particular root cell determine its fate — the zone in which it will function, Subramanian explained, so he is identifying which micro-RNAs direct gene expression to achieve this differentiation.

“We need to know what signal makes a cell contribute to one zone or another,” he explained.

Subramanian compared micro-RNAs to the brakes of a car.

“Micro-RNA regulates the levels of the target gene’s activity,” he explained. This means keeping its activity under a particular threshold, confining the activity to specific cell types and properly timing the increase and decrease of the activity levels. These interactions affect the plant’s nodule development and its subsequent ability to fix nitrogen.

Through research funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Subramanian and his research team have documented how micro-RNA 160 affects nodule development. “Micro-RNA 160 levels must be low in developing nodules, but high in mature nitrogen-fixing nodules,” Subramanian said.

Subramanian’s research has identified nearly 150 micro-RNAS that may potentially affect nodule formation through support from the Agricultural Experiment Station and the South Dakota Soybean Research Council.

For the NSF Career project, he will identify the key roles of specific micro-RNAs in the formation of the two nodule zones. In addition, a portion of the project will enable Subramanian to reach out to high school biology teachers and their students to spark interest in science and technology.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by South Dakota State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Increasing Consumption Boosts Concerns About Energy Drinks

Many consumers are aware of the safety concerns surrounding energy drinks combined with alcohol, but energy drinks in their own right are an increasing cause for concern.

Dr. Stacy Fisher, a cardiologist who specializes in congenital heart disease and director of Complex Heart Disease on the faculty of the University Of Maryland School of Medicine, says she sees an increasing number of patients with problems such as palpitations, shortness of breath and nausea related to energy drinks. The problem is that they don’t make the connection; sometimes their doctors don’t either.

“Our standard questions are about alcohol, illicit substances and tobacco use. Sometimes we ask about caffeine use, but not specifically energy drink use,” Fisher says. “The medical community is just learning to start asking about these products.”

When they do ask, they find that patients are affected by products such as Monster Energy or Red Bull but never knew there was a risk in drinking them.

The Risks

Energy drinks have no official federal definition, but they are generally thought of as beverages with caffeine and other stimulants marketed for their energizing effect.

Caffeine levels vary between these drinks. An 8-oz. can of Red Bull might have 80 mg, while a 32-oz. Monster contains 320 mg. The Monster would probably be considered four servings, but the can is non-resealable, and many people tend to drink the whole thing like they would a soda.

In the U.S., 80 percent of adults consume caffeine every day, and the average adult has a daily intake of 200 mg. Every person reacts differently to the drug, but the level where someone starts to have caffeine toxicity symptoms is usually about 400 mg.

A 12-oz. (tall) coffee from Starbucks will run you about 260 mg, while a 14-oz. Dunkin’ Donuts coffee contains 178 mg.

But even just 50 mg of caffeine has the potential to induce tachycardia and agitation. At higher levels, “caffeine toxicity can mimic amphetamine poisoning and lead to seizures, psychosis, cardiac arrhythmias and, potentially but rarely, death,” reads one 2012 study in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Another paper in Current Opinions in Pediatrics notes that the effects of chronic high caffeine intake in children and adolescents are unknown, but that it may “raise blood pressure, disrupt adolescent sleep patterns, exacerbate psychiatric disease, cause physiologic dependence, and increase the risk of subsequent addiction.”

Energy drink makers are required to tell the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about any adverse events related to their products. Data recently obtained by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) regarding these reports show that there have been 34 deaths linked to energy drinks since 2004, with half occurring since 2012. Of these, 22 deaths were linked to 5-Hour Energy, 11 to Monster and one to Rockstar.

Since the reports don’t prove causality, FDA is investigating these incidents to determine whether the deaths were caused in some way by consumption of energy drinks.

Between Jan. 1, 2004, and March 10, 2014, FDA was also informed about 241 non-fatal events where consumers experienced high blood pressure, convulsions, heart attacks and other problems. Of these cases, 115 resulted in hospitalization, 15 in disability and one in miscarriage.

recent report published by the Substance Abuse and Mental health Administration (SAMHSA) found that the number of emergency department visits involving energy drinks doubled from 10,068 visits in 2007 to 20,783 visits in 2011.

All of this is set against the backdrop of increased energy drink sales. In 2011, sales increased by 12.5 percent overall and by 15-30 percent for Red Bull and Rockstar.

What’s in There?

Federal law allows for caffeine in soda up to 71 mg per 12 ounces, but energy drinks aren’t categorized as such, even though consumer advocates think they should be because of how they’re marketed and where they’re placed in stores. In addition to no limits on the amount of caffeine in energy drinks, companies are not required to disclose the caffeine content on labels.

American Beverage Association member companies and some independent ones do disclose it voluntarily, but many do not.

And it’s not just the caffeine that has Fisher and other consumer advocates worried. They are also wary of other additives that are “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS).

Guarana, which naturally contains caffeine, is commonly added to energy drinks on top of the synthetic caffeine but in unknown quantities. When caffeine levels are included on a drink label, Fisher says this additional stimulant is not usually included in the number.

And some products have mixtures of taurine, an amino acid which makes the heart pump harder and stronger.

“Can that help performance? Sure,” Fisher says. But there’s a catch. “When we take inotropes — the class of drugs [that make the heart beat harder like taurine does] — and give them to heart failure patients, they do better, but they don’t live as long.”

These, along with other ingredients such as glucuronolactone and ginseng, “have no nutritional value and may, individually or collectively, pose the apparent health risks from consuming energy drinks,” according to CSPI. “As far as we can tell, the FDA has not examined some of those ingredients for safety, effectiveness, purity, or interactions with other energy-drink ingredients.”

And, like any other sugar-sweetened beverage, there is also the concern that the amounts of added sugar in energy drinks can contribute to the development of obesity and diabetes.

Youth Problem

In addition to adults with underlying structural heart disease — like those whom Fisher treats — children are most at risk for adverse effects from energy drink consumption.

While adults might be able to handle 200 mg of caffeine without a problem, children and smaller people don’t have the same kind of metabolism. There is no tolerance level established for kids and, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “caffeine and other stimulant substances contained in energy drinks have no place in the diet of children and adolescents.”

In 2011, 14-year-old Anais Fournier from Maryland died from cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity after consuming two 24-oz. Monster drinks in a 24-hour period. Other cases linked to the energy drinks include the death of a 19-year-old in California, brain damage in a 16-year-old in Oklahoma, and the deaths of three teenage boys in Canada.

And, apart from direct injury, teens who consume energy drinks have been shown to seek out risky behavior and have higher rates of alcohol, cigarette, or drug use.

Teens and young adults make up the largest percentage of those who buy energy drinks, accounting for nearly $ 2.3 billion in sales.

It’s estimated that about 30 percent of adolescents report consuming energy drinks. According to a study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 8 percent of young people drink energy drinks weekly, 20 percent think that energy drinks are safe drinks for teens, and 13 percent think that energy drinks are a type of sports drink.

Fisher says that, in her own experience, she has seen half the kids on her 14-year-old son’s football team drink a large energy drink before practices.

According to CSPI, industry representatives at a Maryland legislative hearing earlier this year stated that energy drink companies define “minors” as younger than 12 years old for marketing purposes.

These drinks are frequently marketed on youth-targeted cable networks such as Adult Swim, MTV and Comedy Central. Energy drink brands also have a very strong presence on social media and will sponsor events such as extreme sports competitions and music festivals.

The Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University has found that teens saw an average of 124 TV ads for energy drinks in 2010 — more than other beverage categories, including sodas, sport drinks and fruit drinks.

“Despite the risks … these companies are really disproportionately targeting teens,” says Roberta Friedman, the Rudd Center’s director of public policy.

Regulation Requests

Along with release of the adverse event data, CSPI sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg on June 25 asking that the agency require energy drink containers to carry a warning label about the risks of heart attacks, convulsions and other adverse reactions.

The group also wants the caffeine in energy drinks limited to the same levels as “cola-type beverages” and for the common ingredients in energy drinks to be tested for safety in combination, as well as separately.

Additional regulations suggested by Fisher, the Rudd Center and others include limits on the size of energy drink containers, requiring containers to be re-sealable, and excise taxes. When it comes to marketing, it’s also been suggested that energy drink brands self-regulate like alcohol suppliers who agree not to advertise in media outlets with an audience comprising more than 30 percent minors.

A 2011 Rudd Center survey found that 74 percent of parents believe that energy drinks should not be sold to teenagers. Suffolk County, NY, and Mexico have already set the precedent of restricting the sale of these beverages to minors.

FDA does not regulate energy drinks as their own category, “but the products are indeed regulated, and should there be any sort of problem with a product that presents an ‘out-and-out’ demonstrated risk to consumers, we can take steps to get that particular product off the market,” an agency spokesperson tells Food Safety News.

In addition, FDA says it has no current plans for warning labels.

The agency has expressed concerns about caffeine added to foods and has asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to convene a workshop on the potential health hazards of caffeine consumption. FDA is now waiting for a report from IOM to “determine next steps” in caffeine regulation.

“I honestly think that FDA needs to address this quickly,” Fisher says. “What I’m seeing in my everyday practice is a lot of illness, a lot of morbidity, and some mortality because of these products.”

Food Safety News

Industry professionals working diligently on ways to ease the high and increasing cost of transportation

Increasing costs of production are affecting the entire produce industry today, but one issue that is causing a huge upset that may intensify tremendously is the cost and tenuousness supplies of fuel and trucking regulations that have most growers, shippers and even end users on the nervous edge of their seats.

There are several issues currently at hand that are contributing to the problem. The war in Iraq has already had a major effect on the cost of fuel in the U.S., and it stands to become much worse as the conflict there intensifies.Jim-DiMennaJim DiMenna

According to the Energy Information Administration, Iraq is the third-largest exporter of oil in the world and has the fifth-largest crude reserves.

A story BY Bruce Kennedy on CBS Money Watch [www.cbsnews.com/news/as-iraq-fighting-rages-gas-prices-climb] on June 14 stated that the hike in gas costs follows the battlefield successes of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria [ISIS], an al Qaeda breakaway group backed by Sunni fighters and other groups in northern Iraq.

The article further stated that the cost of crude rose Friday [June 13] afternoon to nearly $ 107, a 10-month high, amid fears that the mounting insurgency there could lead to major disruptions of oil shipments.

Brent crude futures, an international benchmark, climbed 54 cents to $ 112.96. And prices at the gas pumps have risen for four weeks in a row, with no relief in sight.

There are, however, proposed changes to Federal laws that may allow triple tractor-trailer trucks, longer doubles and longer, heavier single trucks on the Nation’s Federal highways.

This action has its obvious strong opponents who fear increased fatal highway accidents and damage to roads and bridges.

Supporters say the measures would increase productivity, reduce truck traffic, and actually make roads safer. Opponents, however, say they would increase fatal crashes and damage roads and bridges

A May 4 press release from the Coalition for Transportation Productivity stated that there is substantial evidence that improving trucking industry productivity through carefully constructed higher vehicle weight limits on federal highways will save lives by making highways safer and less congested.

The release also stated that the Coalition is asking Congress to address this issue now before America’s highways become even more congested.

Like most new legislations, the final decisions on these issues may take years and therefore can’t offer relief for what producer-shippers are facing today.

Jim DiMenna, president of JemD Farms, headquartered in Kingsville, ON, told The Produce News that transportation and logistics is a constantly growing factor affecting greenhouse growers and shippers.

“We are doing everything possible to coordinate orders with trucks to make sure we fill them to the maximum so that the cost per case is reduced or at least maintained,” said DiMenna. “Part loads are getting more and more costly, and so we are continually focusing strongly on working with our retail partners to make sure that we keep costs down as low as possible. Consolidation is absolutely key.”

Together with its business partners and friends, DiMenna met at the United Fresh expo and plans to again at the PMA Foodservice show and all other venues where opportunities allow, to continue to work on ways to ease the high and rising cost of shipping greenhouse and even field produce so that everyone along the chain can benefit.

“To ship a partial load of produce increases the cost per box by five times,” said DiMenna. “But we know that many clients cannot take full loads. As a group we are working toward strategic partnering–particularly in the produce sector because of the cold chain requirements-to ship full loads that can be broken down at a delivery point that is convenient to all receivers involved.”

DiMenna added that the group sees great opportunities to develop strong relationships even among competing companies because everyone understands the potential advantages.

“If I’m shipping a load of 15 pallets, and another company has an order for an additional 15 pallets there are two trucks on the road,” he said. “If we combine those pallets-even if the receivers are different companies-the savings can be tremendous and trickle all the way to the consumer. Our goal is to be able to a create system that monitors availability, shipment history, tracking and clients’ orders, including their demands as to what carriers we use, we can create a system that can help to offset the high and rising costs of transporting fresh produce. This is a reachable goal, and one that we are striving to accomplish in as short a time period as possible.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Increasing rice production on acidic soils in Malaysia

Adding lime is a cost-effective means of increasing rice production on marginal acidic soils, according to a study published in the Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science. The study examined the effects of applying lime from various sources on an acid sulphate soil in Merbok, Malaysia.

Rice is a staple food for Malaysians. With global demand for rice increasing, Malaysia needs to become more self-sufficient in rice production. However, with fertile land in short supply, farmers may need to increase their rice production on land that was previously idle and less fertile, such as the acid sulphate soils that occur along Malaysia’s coastal plains.

Marked with high acidity (soil pH< 3.5), acid sulphate soils contain high levels of aluminium (Al). Under normal circumstances, they are not suitable for crop production. Major agronomic problems common to these soils include Al toxicity, decreased availability of phosphorus, nutrient deficiencies and iron toxicity.

In the study, Shamshuddin Jusop and colleagues at the Universiti Putra Malaysia treated an acid sulphate paddy with ground magnesium limestone (GML), hydrated lime and liquid lime. Prior to the treatments, the pH of water from the rice field was 3.7 and the Al concentration was 878 μM. Rice plants grown under these conditions would normally suffer from acid and aluminium stress, thus retarding and/or minimizing rice growth and yield.

For their experiment, the researchers tested paddy variety MR 219 — the most common variety grown in Malaysia. In the first season, rice plants were affected by drought while in the second, they were infested with rice blast fungus. Despite this, the rice yield was 3.5 tons (t) per hectare, or almost as much as the average national yield of 3.8 t per hectare. This was achieved by applying 4 tons of GML per hectare, at a cost of US$ 382. Since one ton of rice sold at the market price of US$ 318, “the yield obtained is worth the effort and cost,” the authors conclude.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Industry professionals working diligently on ways to ease the high and increasing cost of transportation

Increasing costs of production are affecting the entire produce industry today, but one issue that is causing a huge upset that may intensify tremendously is the cost and tenuousness supplies of fuel and trucking regulations that have most growers, shippers and even end users on the nervous edge of their seats.

There are several issues currently at hand that are contributing to the problem. The war in Iraq has already had a major effect on the cost of fuel in the U.S., and it stands to become much worse as the conflict there intensifies.Jim-DiMennaJim DiMenna

According to the Energy Information Administration, Iraq is the third-largest exporter of oil in the world and has the fifth-largest crude reserves.

A story BY Bruce Kennedy on CBS Money Watch [www.cbsnews.com/news/as-iraq-fighting-rages-gas-prices-climb] on June 14 stated that the hike in gas costs follows the battlefield successes of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria [ISIS], an al Qaeda breakaway group backed by Sunni fighters and other groups in northern Iraq.

The article further stated that the cost of crude rose Friday [June 13] afternoon to nearly $ 107, a 10-month high, amid fears that the mounting insurgency there could lead to major disruptions of oil shipments.

Brent crude futures, an international benchmark, climbed 54 cents to $ 112.96. And prices at the gas pumps have risen for four weeks in a row, with no relief in sight.

There are, however, proposed changes to Federal laws that may allow triple tractor-trailer trucks, longer doubles and longer, heavier single trucks on the Nation’s Federal highways.

This action has its obvious strong opponents who fear increased fatal highway accidents and damage to roads and bridges.

Supporters say the measures would increase productivity, reduce truck traffic, and actually make roads safer. Opponents, however, say they would increase fatal crashes and damage roads and bridges

A May 4 press release from the Coalition for Transportation Productivity stated that there is substantial evidence that improving trucking industry productivity through carefully constructed higher vehicle weight limits on federal highways will save lives by making highways safer and less congested.

The release also stated that the Coalition is asking Congress to address this issue now before America’s highways become even more congested.

Like most new legislations, the final decisions on these issues may take years and therefore can’t offer relief for what producer-shippers are facing today.

Jim DiMenna, president of JemD Farms, headquartered in Kingsville, ON, told The Produce News that transportation and logistics is a constantly growing factor affecting greenhouse growers and shippers.

“We are doing everything possible to coordinate orders with trucks to make sure we fill them to the maximum so that the cost per case is reduced or at least maintained,” said DiMenna. “Part loads are getting more and more costly, and so we are continually focusing strongly on working with our retail partners to make sure that we keep costs down as low as possible. Consolidation is absolutely key.”

Together with its business partners and friends, DiMenna met at the United Fresh expo and plans to again at the PMA Foodservice show and all other venues where opportunities allow, to continue to work on ways to ease the high and rising cost of shipping greenhouse and even field produce so that everyone along the chain can benefit.

“To ship a partial load of produce increases the cost per box by five times,” said DiMenna. “But we know that many clients cannot take full loads. As a group we are working toward strategic partnering–particularly in the produce sector because of the cold chain requirements-to ship full loads that can be broken down at a delivery point that is convenient to all receivers involved.”

DiMenna added that the group sees great opportunities to develop strong relationships even among competing companies because everyone understands the potential advantages.

“If I’m shipping a load of 15 pallets, and another company has an order for an additional 15 pallets there are two trucks on the road,” he said. “If we combine those pallets-even if the receivers are different companies-the savings can be tremendous and trickle all the way to the consumer. Our goal is to be able to a create system that monitors availability, shipment history, tracking and clients’ orders, including their demands as to what carriers we use, we can create a system that can help to offset the high and rising costs of transporting fresh produce. This is a reachable goal, and one that we are striving to accomplish in as short a time period as possible.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Increasing diversity of marketable raspberries

Raspberries are the third most popular berry in the United States. Their popularity is growing as a specialty crop for the wholesale industry and in smaller, local markets, and U-pick operations. As consumer interest in the health benefits of colorful foods increases, small growers are capitalizing on novelty fruit and vegetable crops such as different-colored raspberries. Authors of a newly published study say that increasing the diversity of raspberry colors in the market will benefit both consumers and producers. “Producers will need to know how fruit of the other color groups compare with red raspberries with regard to the many postharvest qualities,” noted the University of Maryland’s Julia Harshman, corresponding author of the study published in HortScience (March 2014).

Raspberries have an extremely short shelf life, which can be worsened by postharvest decay. Postharvest susceptibility to gray mold (Botrytis cinerea) drastically reduces the shelf life of this delicate fruit. “The main goal of our research was to compare the postharvest quality of different-colored raspberries that were harvested from floricanes under direct-market conditions with minimal pesticide inputs,” Harshman said. The researchers said that, although there is abundant information in the literature regarding red raspberry production in regard to gray mold, very little research has been conducted on postharvest physiology of black, yellow, or purple raspberries.

The researchers analyzed 17 varieties of raspberries at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland, examining each cultivar for characteristics such as anthocyanins, soluble solids, titratable acids, pH, color, firmness, decay and juice leakage rates, ethylene evolution, and respiration.

“In comparing the four commonly grown colors of raspberry, we drew several important conclusions,” they said. “The mechanisms controlling decay and juice leakage are distinct and mediated by both biotic and abiotic factors. The colors that performed well for one area are opposite the ones that did well in the other.” For example, firmness was expected to track closely with either leakage or decay resistance; however, the analyses did not indicate this.

Red raspberries, in comparison with the other three colors analyzed during the study, had the highest titratable acids (TA) and the lowest ratio of soluble solids to TA, which, the authors say, accounts for the tart raspberry flavor consumers expect.

Yellow raspberries had the lowest levels of anthocyanins and phenolics. Their TA was lower than red raspberries, but their ratio of soluble solids to TA was the second highest. “This bodes well for consumer acceptance because this measure is an important indicator of flavor,” Harshman said. Although yellow raspberries were among the firmest varieties at harvest, they were found to be very susceptible to gray mold, particularly after being harvested on overcast, cool, humid days.

Black raspberries resisted leakage the least of all of the colors, particularly after rainy, humid, overcast days. The authors observed that this quality will make it challenging to move black raspberries into the wholesale fresh market.

Purple raspberries–a hybrid between red and black raspberries–had the third highest anthocyanin and phenolic content, and their flavor was intermediate between black and yellow raspberries. “Similar to black raspberries, their ability to resist juice leakage was poor, and cool weather tended to exacerbate this,” the authors said.

“We have shown for the first time that when significant differences between ethylene rates and decay incidence coincide; the berries that produced the highest ethylene rates rotted the most quickly,” Harshman said. “Our findings have great impact because they open the door for potential disease mitigation strategies that center around lowering ethylene emission rates on berries to reduce decay.”

The authors say that their findings should also be useful to plant breeders, who can use the information to screen raspberry germplasm to look for berries to use as material for generating more decay-resistant fruit.

A link to the article’s summary can be found at: http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/49/3/311.abstract

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Increasing diversity of marketable raspberries

Raspberries are the third most popular berry in the United States. Their popularity is growing as a specialty crop for the wholesale industry and in smaller, local markets, and U-pick operations. As consumer interest in the health benefits of colorful foods increases, small growers are capitalizing on novelty fruit and vegetable crops such as different-colored raspberries. Authors of a newly published study say that increasing the diversity of raspberry colors in the market will benefit both consumers and producers. “Producers will need to know how fruit of the other color groups compare with red raspberries with regard to the many postharvest qualities,” noted the University of Maryland’s Julia Harshman, corresponding author of the study published in HortScience (March 2014).

Raspberries have an extremely short shelf life, which can be worsened by postharvest decay. Postharvest susceptibility to gray mold (Botrytis cinerea) drastically reduces the shelf life of this delicate fruit. “The main goal of our research was to compare the postharvest quality of different-colored raspberries that were harvested from floricanes under direct-market conditions with minimal pesticide inputs,” Harshman said. The researchers said that, although there is abundant information in the literature regarding red raspberry production in regard to gray mold, very little research has been conducted on postharvest physiology of black, yellow, or purple raspberries.

The researchers analyzed 17 varieties of raspberries at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland, examining each cultivar for characteristics such as anthocyanins, soluble solids, titratable acids, pH, color, firmness, decay and juice leakage rates, ethylene evolution, and respiration.

“In comparing the four commonly grown colors of raspberry, we drew several important conclusions,” they said. “The mechanisms controlling decay and juice leakage are distinct and mediated by both biotic and abiotic factors. The colors that performed well for one area are opposite the ones that did well in the other.” For example, firmness was expected to track closely with either leakage or decay resistance; however, the analyses did not indicate this.

Red raspberries, in comparison with the other three colors analyzed during the study, had the highest titratable acids (TA) and the lowest ratio of soluble solids to TA, which, the authors say, accounts for the tart raspberry flavor consumers expect.

Yellow raspberries had the lowest levels of anthocyanins and phenolics. Their TA was lower than red raspberries, but their ratio of soluble solids to TA was the second highest. “This bodes well for consumer acceptance because this measure is an important indicator of flavor,” Harshman said. Although yellow raspberries were among the firmest varieties at harvest, they were found to be very susceptible to gray mold, particularly after being harvested on overcast, cool, humid days.

Black raspberries resisted leakage the least of all of the colors, particularly after rainy, humid, overcast days. The authors observed that this quality will make it challenging to move black raspberries into the wholesale fresh market.

Purple raspberries–a hybrid between red and black raspberries–had the third highest anthocyanin and phenolic content, and their flavor was intermediate between black and yellow raspberries. “Similar to black raspberries, their ability to resist juice leakage was poor, and cool weather tended to exacerbate this,” the authors said.

“We have shown for the first time that when significant differences between ethylene rates and decay incidence coincide; the berries that produced the highest ethylene rates rotted the most quickly,” Harshman said. “Our findings have great impact because they open the door for potential disease mitigation strategies that center around lowering ethylene emission rates on berries to reduce decay.”

The authors say that their findings should also be useful to plant breeders, who can use the information to screen raspberry germplasm to look for berries to use as material for generating more decay-resistant fruit.

A link to the article’s summary can be found at: http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/49/3/311.abstract

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Increasing longevity of seeds with genetic engineering

A study developed by researchers of the Institute for Plant Molecular and Cell Biology (IBMCP), a joint center of the Universitat Politècnica de València and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), in collaboration with the Unit for Plant Genomics Research of Evry, France (URGV, in French) has discovered a new way of improving the longevity of plant seeds using genetic engineering. Plant Physiology magazine has published the research results.

The key is the overexpression of the ATHB25 gene. This gene encodes a protein that regulates gene expression, producing a new mutant that gives the seed new properties. Researchers have proven that this mutant has more gibberellin -the hormone that promotes plant growth-, which means the seed coat is reinforced as well. “The seed coat is responsible for preventing oxygen from entering the seed; the increase in gibberellin strengthens it and this leads to a more durable and longer lasting seed,” explains Eduardo Bueso, researcher at the IBMCP (UPV-CSIC).

This mechanism is new, as tolerance to stresses such as aging has always been associated with another hormone, abscisic acid, which regulates defenses based on proteins and small protective molecules, instead of producing the growth of structures like gibberellin does.

The study has been made on the experimental model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, a species that presents great advantages for molecular biology research. Researchers of the IBMCP traced half a million seeds, related to one hundred thousand lines of Arabidopsis mutated by T-DNA insertion, using the natural system of Agrobacterium tumefaciens. “Finally, we analyzed four mutants in the study and we proved the impact on the seed longevity when the overexpression of the ATHB25 gene is introduced,” states Ramón Serrano, researcher at the IBMCP.

Researchers compared the longevity of genetically modified Arabidopsis seeds and seeds which were not modified. In order to do this, they preserved them for thirty months under specific conditions of room temperature and humidity. After thirty months, only 20% of the control plants germinated again, whereas almost the all of the modified plants (90%) began the germination process again.

Researchers of the IBMCP are now trying to improve the longevity of different species that are of agronomical interest, such as tomatoes or wheat.

Biodiversity and benefits for farmers

This discovery is particularly significant for the conservation of biodiversity, preserving seed species and, especially, for farmers.

“In the past, a lot of different plant species were cultivated, but many of them are dissapearing because high performance crops have now become a priority. Seed banks were created in order to guarantee the conservation of species, but they require a periodical regeneration of the seeds. With this mutant the regeneration periods could be extended,” explains Eduardo Bueso.

With regard to farmers, Serrano explains that “the increase of the lifespan of seeds would mean a reduction in their purchase price.”

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Asociación RUVID. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Eucalypt in Ethiopian highlands: Increasing productivity of important tree

Researchers at the UPM are collaborating in a eucalypts breeding program in the Ethiopian highlands which will increase this species productivity.

This program is developed by the research group of Forest Physiology and Genetics and the cooperative group of Support to Forestry Development of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM). Also, it is supported by several national and international institutions that will contribute to satisfy the demand of woody biomass and other financial needs of Ethiopian farmers.

For years, these two research groups have been collaborating with Forestry Research Center and the St. Mary’s College and supported by Ence and the Council of Alcorcón. Also, they are working on providing the Ethiopian highlands with tools and knowledge for better forestry management. This could constitute a valuable tool to achieve sustainability when using and supplying natural resources. The main project consists of a eucalypt breeding program that will result in improvements in many areas.

The great demand for forest products to use for agriculture by the population of the Ethiopian highlands has resulted in the deforestation of a region with the lowest human development rate in the world. The eucalypt is the species with the highest demand among Ethiopian farmers and has an important environmental and socioeconomic key role in the highlands area. The consumption of eucalypt is been boosted because of its compatibility with the grazing system and its high yields even in marginal agricultural soils of abandoned lands. However, farmers are lacking of start materials and the current techniques make production difficult.

Within the improvement program, the researchers established an experimental test with eucalypt plants from Ethiopia and Spain in order to compare their potential productivity in local conditions. The Spanish plant, that had a certain rate of improvement, showed a growth and survival rate between 27% and 35%, a rate higher than the Ethiopian plants. Although this test is hurt by atypical adverse environmental factors in the area, by restrictions and hard survival due to frost and drought, the early results give an idea of the potential of forest improvements to increase eucalypt productivity. The Spanish plant use broadens the genetic layout in the Ethiopian highlands that was historically very limited.

Besides, this test will produce materials of high quality (seeds and sections of plants) and using them will allow farmers to obtain better yields in future plantings. Therefore, it will contribute to satisfy the demand of woody biomass which is used for fuel and constructions. Also, this would support the emerging wood local market.

The eucalypt research was possible thanks to a nursery setting for the production of eucalypt and its native plant. The outcome was the reforestation of 140 hectares of degraded land owned by 286 families of farmers and also the setting of 25 hectares of experimental tests.

Also, a Forest Centre was build to support the development of activities the area. Meanwhile, a eucalypt national congress was held in order to share knowledge and results, also to create a network of species users.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

South Africa: prices for stonefruit increasing

South Africa: prices for stonefruit increasing

After a season with a lot of weather antics in the Southern Hemisphere, there are more and more stonefruit shortages in Europe and the United Kingdom. The prices of the South African exporters are almost reaching record levels at the moment for this reason, the German website Fruchthandel.de reports.

The producers in South Africa even have smaller amounts than usual available, which affects the price when combined with higher demand. Gysbert du Toit, manager of Dutoit, spoke about this situation to freshfruitportal.com. “A number of other countries such as Chile also had a smaller nectarine and other stonefruit harvest. This is causing shortages. The markets have turned to South Africa to fill the gaps,” Du Toit explains.

Du Toit estimates that the South Africa volume will be 15% smaller due to hail, frost and rain.

Publication date: 1/28/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Volume of Peruvian mangos increasing for Kingston Fresh

Kingston Fresh announced that its mango crop from Peru is off to good start and volume is expected to climb with arrivals starting in mid-January.

“Mango sales remain brisk coming out of the holidays and movement has been steady,” Ken Nabal, president of the Idaho Falls, ID-based company, said in a press release. “Although our initial volumes from Peru were little light, we augmented the program with Kent mangos from Ecuador to fully meet customer demand. With Ecuador production now finished for the season, we are increasing our imports from Peru to provide consistent volume through early March.”

Nabal added, “Our customers get excited when Peru Kents enter the market and we are expecting another great selling season. The overall quality of the first arrivals is very good and the eating quality of the fruit has been outstanding.”

Kingston has been steadily building its imports division in recent years and is aggressively adding to its portfolio of branded products.

“For over 40 years our customers, with good reason, have had great confidence in the Kingston label,” David O. Kingston, chief executive officer, added in the press release. “We remain steadfast in our expansion plans and are growing our footprint in Central and South America. Whether it’s our branded Sugar Pines” from Costa Rica, mangos from Peru or our newest program, melons from Guatemala, rest assured that the ‘Kingston’ brand will be prominently displayed along with its ‘Planting to Plate’ brand slogan. We have kept this consistent on our packaging to emphasize our company’s vertical integration and ongoing commitment to customer service, food safety and quality.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Citronex increasing banana ripening facilities in Poland

Citronex increasing banana ripening facilities in Poland

Citronex, well-known from distribution of bananas and tomatoes, from hotel chains and petrol stations, has finished further investments. Recently in Zgorzelec, in the town located by Polish-German boarder there have been an additional 27 ripening chambers for bananas, completed.

At the moment Citronex has 140 ripening chambers at its disposal, in which it is possible to ripen about 180 000 boxes of bananas weekly. Citronex has been cooperating with the same group of producers from Ecuador for many years which allows them to keep the highest quality of fruit. Their bananas have been appreciated by supermarket chains in Poland, Czech Republic and Germany. In 2013, Citronex started cooperating with a group of new clients and confirmed its place within the greatest companies dealing with bananas in Europe.

At the same time, the building project for tomato production is developing. In December, Citronex completed the formation of an additional 8 hectares of cutting-edge warehouses. Citronex will be cultivating tomatoes on 31 hectares in 2014. Citronex will continue to work on the building of a greenhouse complex on 96 hectares in Bogatynia. The first tomatoes from these greenhouses will be available in 2015.

For more information:
Marek Szulc
Citronex
Tel.: +48 757721943
Fax: +48 757721945
Email: [email protected]
www.citronex.pl

 
 

 

Publication date: 12/20/2013


FreshPlaza.com

Key genes for increasing oil content in plant leaves identified

Oct. 18, 2013 — Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory have identified the key genes required for oil production and accumulation in plant leaves and other vegetative plant tissues. Enhancing expression of these genes resulted in vastly increased oil content in leaves, the most abundant sources of plant biomass-a finding that could have important implications for increasing the energy content of plant-based foods and renewable biofuel feedstocks.

The research is described in two new publications in The Plant Journal and Plant Cell.

“If we can transfer this strategy to crop plants being used to generate renewable energy or to feed livestock, it would significantly increase their energy content and nutritional values,” said Brookhaven biochemist Changcheng Xu, who led the research. The experiments were carried out in large part by Xu’s group members Jilian Fan and Chengshi Yan.

Think about it in the familiar terms of calories: Oil is twice as energy-dense as carbohydrates, which make up the bulk of leaves, stems, and other vegetative plant matter. “If you want to cut calories from your diet, you cut fat and oils. Conversely, if you want to increase the caloric output of your biofuel or feed for livestock, you want more oil,” said Xu.

But plants don’t normally store much oil in their leaves and other vegetative tissues. In nature, oil storage is the job of seeds, where the energy-dense compounds provide nourishment for developing plant embryos. The idea behind Xu’s studies was to find a way to “reprogram” plants to store oil in their more abundant forms of biomass.

The first step was to identify the genes responsible for oil production in vegetative plant tissues. Though oil isn’t stored in these tissues, almost all plant cells have the capacity to make oil. But until these studies, the pathway for oil biosynthesis in leaves was unknown.

“Many people assumed it was similar to what happens in seeds, but we tried to look also at different genes and enzymes,” said Xu.

Unraveling the genes

The scientists used a series of genetic tricks to test the effects of overexpressing or disabling genes that enable cells to make certain enzymes involved in oil production. Pumping up the factors that normally increase oil production in seeds had no effect on oil production in leaves, and one of these, when overexpressed in leaves, caused growth and developmental problems in the plants. Altering the expression of a different oil-producing enzyme, however, had dramatic effects on leaf oil production.

“If you knock out (disable) the gene for an enzyme known as PDAT, it doesn’t affect oil synthesis in seeds or cause any problems to plants, but it dramatically decreases oil production and accumulation in leaves,” Xu said. In contrast, overexpressing the gene for PDAT-that is, getting cells to make more of this enzyme-resulted in a 60-fold increase in leaf oil production.

An important observation was that the excess oil did not mix with cellular membrane lipids, but was found in oil droplets within the leaf cells. These droplets were somewhat similar to those found in seeds, only much, much larger. “It was as if many small oil droplets like those found in seeds had fused together to form huge globules,” Xu said.

Bigger droplets may seem better, but they’re not, explained Xu. Oil in these oversized droplets is easily broken down by other enzymes in the cells. In seeds, he said, oil droplets are coated with a protein called oleosin, which prevents the droplets from fusing together, keeping them smaller while also protecting the oil inside. What would happen in leaves, the scientists wondered, if they activated the gene for oleosin along with PDAT?

The result: Overexpression of the two genes together resulted in a 130-fold increase in production of leaf oil compared with control plants. This time the oil accumulated in large clusters of tiny oleosin-coated oil droplets.

Identifying the mechanism

Next the scientists used radio-labeled carbon (C-14) to decipher the biochemical mechanism by which PDAT increases oil production. They traced the uptake of C-14-labeled acetate into fatty acids, the building blocks of membrane lipids and oils. These studies showed that PDAT drastically increased the rate at which these fatty acids were made.

Then the scientists decided to test the effects of overexpressing the newly identified oil-increasing genes (PDAT and oleosin) in a variant of test plants that already had an elevated rate of fatty acid synthesis. In this case, the genetic boost resulted in even greater oil production and accumulation-170-fold compared with control plants-to the point where oil accounted for nearly 10 percent of the leaf’s dry weight.

“That potentially equals almost twice the oil yield, by weight, that you can get from canola seeds, which right now is one of the highest oil-yielding crops used for food and biodiesel production,” said Xu. Burning plant biomass with such energy density to generate electricity would release 30 to 40 percent more energy, and the nutritional value of feed made from such energy-dense biomass would also be greatly enhanced.

“These studies were done in laboratory plants, so we still need to see if this strategy would work in bioenergy or feed crops,” said Xu. “And there are challenges in finding ways to extract oil from leaves so it can be converted to biofuels. But our research provides a very promising path to improving the use of plants as a source of feed and feedstocks for producing renewable energy,” he said.

Xu is now collaborating with Brookhaven biochemist John Shanklin to explore the potential effect of overexpressing these key genes on oil production in dedicated biomass crops such as sugarcane.

This research was funded by the DOE Office of Science (BES). Images showing the storage of oil in droplets were produced using microscopes housed at Brookhaven’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN), also supported by BES.

Related Links

Plant Cell paper: Dual Role for Phospholipid:Diacylglycerol Acyltransferase: Enhancing Fatty Acid Synthesis and Diverting Fatty Acids from Membrane Lipids to Triacylglycerol in Arabidopsis Leaves [http://www.plantcell.org/content/early/2013/09/26/tpc.113.117358.abstract]

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Increasing kiwi production in Italy, exports must be strengthened

Expectations and trends analysed by the Cso in Verona
Increasing kiwi production in Italy, exports must be strengthened

Slightly increasing national production (420 thousand tons, +5% with respect to 2012) with bigger grades, whereas cultivated areas decrease (25 thousand hectares, -2% with respect to 2012) because of bacteriosis and because less land is dedicated to kiwi cultivation (except for Southern Italy). In the meantime, exports are getting more important and new markets are being explored, even though a lot of the potential isn’t fully taken advantage of.


These are the main points emerged at the “Kiwi 2013/2014: previsioni produttive e situazione di mercato” conference that took place on Friday 3rd October at the Agri-food centre in Verona.

Bigger room for discussion was dedicated to bacteriosis and kiwi blight, which are affecting the entire province of Verona.


The speakers’ table at the conference. At the centre, Elisa Macchi, director of the Cso.


After the initial greetings of Luigi Frigotto, Councillor for agriculture of the Verona province, and Damiano Berzacola, member of the board of the chamber of Verona, the president of the Consortium Fausto Bertaiola underlined how “the response to the emergency situation was correct, but unfortunately it was not enough. Resources were found thanks to the Chamber of Commerce, the Province and some municipalities that funded two support projects. Producers must collaborate more in order to tackle the situation.”

“People who work at the beginning of the production chain should confront themselves with the Region and the various bodies to improve research and find the funds to compensate all companies affected by the PSA. More data is needed on the extent to which the disease has spread though, as we must know all of the aspects of the problem.” 


Elisa Macchi, director of the Cso, then talked about production estimates, with more detailed data than those presented at Macfrut 2013.

Less cultivated areas, but not in the South
In 2013, 25 thousand hectares will be dedicated to kiwi cultivation in Italy, 2% less than 2012. It is the first year that there is a negative result. 


Lazio cultivates 7,350 hectares (-2% than 2012); Piedmont 5,000 (-5%); Emilia Romagna 4,000 (-5%) and Veneto 3,700 (-6%).


In the South, in Campania but most of all in Calabria, cultivated areas increase.

Production – Piedmont back to standard levels

Piedmont goes back to standard levels after the drop in 2012 caused by freeze: 98 thousand tons are expected, 198% more than the previous year though still -20% than the 2008-2011 average.

Definite drop in production in Veneto – only 70 thousand tons (-30% than 2012). Verona, the leading area in the province, is facing a 30% drop in yields with respect to 2012, which though is only 8% less than the 2008-2011 period.

The same goes for Emilia Romagna, as the expected production is of 70 thousand tons, -2% than 2012. The Ravenna province should end with +2% with respect to the previous year, but -2% than 2008-2011. Forlì-Cesena is similar (-3% than 2012), whereas Bologna will do better.

The situation in Lazio will vary from company to company depending on who took measures against bacteriosis. The yield is expected at 128 thousand tons (-4% than 2012).

As regards the other regions, Friuli downsized – -4% cultivated areas and -15% production. Calabria increased cultivated areas and production, but yields will be lower than last year (-25%) because of wind damage.

Campania also increased cultivated areas by 10%.

At a national level, we are talking about around 420 thousand tons (+5% than 2012) with a higher quality (better grades). 403 thousand tons will be suitable for the market, 7% more than 2012. “We still are below our potential, though,” revealed the director of the Cso.

In the Northern hemisphere, Europe will produce 590,900 tons in 2013-2014, more or less the same than in 2012-2013. There have been significant drops in France (55 thousand tons, -13%) and Greece, one of our main competitors (102 thousand, -15% due to the weather). Lower productions also in California (less than 24 thousand tons, -23%) and South Korea (11,500 tons, -15%). 

Exports must be strengthened
Foreign countries become more important: during the 2012-2013 campaign, sales abroad increased despite 20% less production, leading to a good average price of €1.12 per kilo. 


The trend of Italian exports. Click here to enlarge the chart.

Exports in European countries decrease (Germany -8%, Spain +1%, France -15% and Poland -30%) and sales in extra-European countries also dropped by 23% (Russia -36%), whereas business is increasing in the Far East and South America.


Macchi added that our kiwis are going all over the world, but there is room for improvement and competition is important as, from 1992 to today, production increased in all producer countries and all of them export.

Publication date: 10/9/2013


FreshPlaza.com

Emerging Pathogens: Vibrio Cases in Oysters Expected to Continue Increasing

With a nearly 50-percent mortality rate, Vibrio vulnificus is the most deadly foodborne pathogen in the world, according to University of North Carolina at Charlotte Biology Professor Jim Oliver. And instances of infection in the U.S., however rare, are rapidly rising.

Fifteen years ago, there were 21 confirmed cases of Vibrio vulnificus and parahaemolyticus infections in the U.S. Last year, there were 193.

While infections from either of the pathogens are still rare compared with, say, Salmonella and Campylobacter, the incidence rate grew faster than any of the other five microbes tracked in the Centers for Disease Control’s 2012 Food Safety Progress Report. The vulnificus strain is responsible for 95 percent of seafood-related illness fatalities in the U.S., according to a 2013 study by Oliver and Joanna Nowakowska. Another Vibrio strain, parahaemolyticus, is milder, causing diarrhea, nausea, fever and chills, according to CDC.

Several studies have linked Vibrio’s quick growth rate with rising ocean temperatures, a critical condition favorable to the saltwater-based bacterium. Instances of Vibrio have started showing up in colder places where they were largely unheard-of before.

“Most notably, they’ve been [seeing cases] in places like the Baltic and Germany,” Oliver said.

While those cases usually involved Vibrio entering humans through wounds while they were swimming, a 2009 article by Oliver and Melissa Jones shows that about 93 percent of Vibrio cases in the U.S. manifest themselves in people who have consumed raw or undercooked oysters. Vibrio can also come from other undercooked seafood.

Vibrio doesn’t harm the oysters in any way, according to Rohinee Paranjpye, a research microbiologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“It appears to be a symbiotic relationship,” Paranjpye said.

Several post-harvest processing methods exist, which have varying degrees of success at killing Vibrio, but they have several drawbacks, said Chris Nelson, a trustee of the Gulf & South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation. One of the largest barriers is cost.

“There’s a huge barrier in terms of capitalization,” Nelson said. “Let’s say you needed a million dollars — and some of the post-harvest processing pieces of equipment are upwards of a million dollars — you have to be a certain size operation.”

In addition to the costs of equipment, a 2011 report from the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference found that processing methods incur staff time and transportation costs. Because such costs are passed on to the consumer, Nelson said the price of oysters can multiply.

“Probably for every dollar spent processing, it’s going to result in at least three more dollars on the dinner plate,” he said. “And probably even more than that because, if you make the additional investment, you’re going to want an additional profit.”

The least-expensive method, which involves freezing the oysters, is typically not used during the summer months when the water is warmer and Vibrio cases are more likely to rise, Nelson said. During the winter, when oysters are plumper, they can take the beating of post-harvest processing. But, when it gets warmer, the reproduction cycle takes much of the meat out of oysters, and processing can reduce the product’s quality, he said.

However, the costs of processing vary depending on several factors, including the method used, the market intended for the oysters, and whether the company in question is using its own material or paying somebody else to process their catch.

For instance, processing can actually reduce the price of shucked oysters, according to the ISSC’s report. Certain methods will help open oysters up, which almost cuts in half the amount of time it takes to shuck them. However, the report also showed that only 40 percent of oysters are sold to the shucked market, while 60 percent are sold to the half-shell market.

Nelson said some regulations exist for post-harvest processing, but they vary by location and time of year.

Cooking oysters can kill Vibrio as well. But, as long as ocean temperatures continue to rise, Oliver said Vibrio will continue to be a problem.

“Vibrio cases in general, I’m very confident will increase,” he said.

Food Safety News

Emerging Pathogens: Vibrio Cases in Oysters Expected to Continue Increasing

With a nearly 50-percent mortality rate, Vibrio vulnificus is the most deadly foodborne pathogen in the world, according to University of North Carolina at Charlotte Biology Professor Jim Oliver. And instances of infection in the U.S., however rare, are rapidly rising.

Fifteen years ago, there were 21 confirmed cases of Vibrio vulnificus and parahaemolyticus infections in the U.S. Last year, there were 193.

While infections from either of the pathogens are still rare compared with, say, Salmonella and Campylobacter, the incidence rate grew faster than any of the other five microbes tracked in the Centers for Disease Control’s 2012 Food Safety Progress Report. The vulnificus strain is responsible for 95 percent of seafood-related illness fatalities in the U.S., according to a 2013 study by Oliver and Joanna Nowakowska. Another Vibrio strain, parahaemolyticus, is milder, causing diarrhea, nausea, fever and chills, according to CDC.

Several studies have linked Vibrio’s quick growth rate with rising ocean temperatures, a critical condition favorable to the saltwater-based bacterium. Instances of Vibrio have started showing up in colder places where they were largely unheard-of before.

“Most notably, they’ve been [seeing cases] in places like the Baltic and Germany,” Oliver said.

While those cases usually involved Vibrio entering humans through wounds while they were swimming, a 2009 article by Oliver and Melissa Jones shows that about 93 percent of Vibrio cases in the U.S. manifest themselves in people who have consumed raw or undercooked oysters. Vibrio can also come from other undercooked seafood.

Vibrio doesn’t harm the oysters in any way, according to Rohinee Paranjpye, a research microbiologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“It appears to be a symbiotic relationship,” Paranjpye said.

Several post-harvest processing methods exist, which have varying degrees of success at killing Vibrio, but they have several drawbacks, said Chris Nelson, a trustee of the Gulf & South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation. One of the largest barriers is cost.

“There’s a huge barrier in terms of capitalization,” Nelson said. “Let’s say you needed a million dollars — and some of the post-harvest processing pieces of equipment are upwards of a million dollars — you have to be a certain size operation.”

In addition to the costs of equipment, a 2011 report from the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference found that processing methods incur staff time and transportation costs. Because such costs are passed on to the consumer, Nelson said the price of oysters can multiply.

“Probably for every dollar spent processing, it’s going to result in at least three more dollars on the dinner plate,” he said. “And probably even more than that because, if you make the additional investment, you’re going to want an additional profit.”

The least-expensive method, which involves freezing the oysters, is typically not used during the summer months when the water is warmer and Vibrio cases are more likely to rise, Nelson said. During the winter, when oysters are plumper, they can take the beating of post-harvest processing. But, when it gets warmer, the reproduction cycle takes much of the meat out of oysters, and processing can reduce the product’s quality, he said.

However, the costs of processing vary depending on several factors, including the method used, the market intended for the oysters, and whether the company in question is using its own material or paying somebody else to process their catch.

For instance, processing can actually reduce the price of shucked oysters, according to the ISSC’s report. Certain methods will help open oysters up, which almost cuts in half the amount of time it takes to shuck them. However, the report also showed that only 40 percent of oysters are sold to the shucked market, while 60 percent are sold to the half-shell market.

Nelson said some regulations exist for post-harvest processing, but they vary by location and time of year.

Cooking oysters can kill Vibrio as well. But, as long as ocean temperatures continue to rise, Oliver said Vibrio will continue to be a problem.

“Vibrio cases in general, I’m very confident will increase,” he said.

Food Safety News

FoodLink sees increasing demand for PTI solution

FoodLink, a leader in supply chain and commerce solutions for the fresh food industry, announced a series of new customers that have selected its FoodLink PTI supply chain traceability solution for fresh produce.

Retail grocers are requiring new levels information about the origin and history of the fresh food they sell. As a result, growers and shippers of fresh produce are turning to solutions such as FoodLink to simplify compliance with new industry standards for labeling and tracking the food they grow and transport.

FoodLink combines advanced case- and item-level tracking with a broad commerce network of buyers and sellers transacting over the FoodLink network. This enables faster and more cost-effective information about where food is grown and packed all the way through the complete supply chain of shipping, purchasing and receiving by retail category managers, and ultimately bringing full visibility to consumers, according to a FoodLink press release.

“We have seen a large increase in demand for the FoodLink PTI and warehouse management solutions as the produce industry moves to comply with new requirements for traceability,” Kevin Brooks, chief marketing officer FoodLink, which is based in Los Gatos, CA, said in the press release. “Growers and shippers are getting serious about which solutions are the most cost effective and scalable across their operations, and we’re happy to help them succeed.”

New growers and marketers choosing the FoodLink PTI solution include Hirakata Farms, Pandol Associates Marketing and Roberson Onion Co.

Hirakata Farms is a fifth-generation family farm growing Rocky Ford melons in southeastern Colorado. In the packinghouse, FoodLink assigns unique tracking codes for each type of melon based on its harvest date and location, and prints industry standard labels at the end of each line. The process enables real-time electronic monitoring of harvested produce all the way to the receiving retailer distribution center.

“The ability to track food to its source and across the supply chain is something we strongly support, but we needed a partner that could work the way we do, without requiring a lot of expensive redesign or rethinking of our operations,” Glen Hirakata, operations manager and partner at Hirakata Farms, said in the press release. “The FoodLink team was great, and they offered us a practical, flexible solution that will help us meet all current and future industry requirements for traceability.”

Pandol Marketing is an established grower, shipper and distributor of fresh California produce, specializing in table grapes, citrus and kiwis.

“We considered a wide range of factors when we researched out choice of PTI software. After we evaluated areas such as ease of use, versatility, scalability, portability, cost and customer service, we chose FoodLink,” Jim Pandol, president of Pandol Associates Marketing Inc., said in the press release.

Roberson Onion Co. was founded by Steve Roberson more than 30 years ago as a grower, packer and shipper of Vidalia onions. The company is a year-round supplier of sweet, domestic and utility onions, and has working partnerships with growers in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Georgia and Peru for sweet onions, sweet potatoes, eastern apples, blueberries and watermelons.

“We have been using FoodLink as a sales platform for some time, and it made sense to add on the PTI component,” Brent Bryson, vice president of sales at Roberson Onion Co., added in the press release. “It was, for us, an obvious choice due to the strength of their team and technology, and their experience helping produce companies stay compliant with retailer requirements.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

FoodLink sees increasing demand for PTI solution

FoodLink, a leader in supply chain and commerce solutions for the fresh food industry, announced a series of new customers that have selected its FoodLink PTI supply chain traceability solution for fresh produce.

Retail grocers are requiring new levels information about the origin and history of the fresh food they sell. As a result, growers and shippers of fresh produce are turning to solutions such as FoodLink to simplify compliance with new industry standards for labeling and tracking the food they grow and transport.

FoodLink combines advanced case- and item-level tracking with a broad commerce network of buyers and sellers transacting over the FoodLink network. This enables faster and more cost-effective information about where food is grown and packed all the way through the complete supply chain of shipping, purchasing and receiving by retail category managers, and ultimately bringing full visibility to consumers, according to a FoodLink press release.

“We have seen a large increase in demand for the FoodLink PTI and warehouse management solutions as the produce industry moves to comply with new requirements for traceability,” Kevin Brooks, chief marketing officer FoodLink, which is based in Los Gatos, CA, said in the press release. “Growers and shippers are getting serious about which solutions are the most cost effective and scalable across their operations, and we’re happy to help them succeed.”

New growers and marketers choosing the FoodLink PTI solution include Hirakata Farms, Pandol Associates Marketing and Roberson Onion Co.

Hirakata Farms is a fifth-generation family farm growing Rocky Ford melons in southeastern Colorado. In the packinghouse, FoodLink assigns unique tracking codes for each type of melon based on its harvest date and location, and prints industry standard labels at the end of each line. The process enables real-time electronic monitoring of harvested produce all the way to the receiving retailer distribution center.

“The ability to track food to its source and across the supply chain is something we strongly support, but we needed a partner that could work the way we do, without requiring a lot of expensive redesign or rethinking of our operations,” Glen Hirakata, operations manager and partner at Hirakata Farms, said in the press release. “The FoodLink team was great, and they offered us a practical, flexible solution that will help us meet all current and future industry requirements for traceability.”

Pandol Marketing is an established grower, shipper and distributor of fresh California produce, specializing in table grapes, citrus and kiwis.

“We considered a wide range of factors when we researched out choice of PTI software. After we evaluated areas such as ease of use, versatility, scalability, portability, cost and customer service, we chose FoodLink,” Jim Pandol, president of Pandol Associates Marketing Inc., said in the press release.

Roberson Onion Co. was founded by Steve Roberson more than 30 years ago as a grower, packer and shipper of Vidalia onions. The company is a year-round supplier of sweet, domestic and utility onions, and has working partnerships with growers in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Georgia and Peru for sweet onions, sweet potatoes, eastern apples, blueberries and watermelons.

“We have been using FoodLink as a sales platform for some time, and it made sense to add on the PTI component,” Brent Bryson, vice president of sales at Roberson Onion Co., added in the press release. “It was, for us, an obvious choice due to the strength of their team and technology, and their experience helping produce companies stay compliant with retailer requirements.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Increasing N.J. peach production and demand are a vote of confidence

On June 28, Pegi Adam, communication consulting director for the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council in Clayton, NJ, told The Produce News that as soon as New Jersey peaches hit the market in late June and early July, the demand shoots up immediately.

Adam added that this spring has seen large new plantings, especially in Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland Counties.

“Among those growers planting new trees are Holtzhauser Farms and Heilig Orchards in Mullica Hill; a large planting in Melick’s Town Farm in Oldwick; Donaldson Farms in Hackettstown; and Terhune Orchards in Princeton,” she said. peach-festival-2010-Doug-Fi 2013 Peach Queen Ashley Wright with New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher.“This is definitely a vote of confidence for New Jersey peaches.”

“Growers are planting more trees, and that is a healthy sign for the New Jersey peach industry,” John Maccherone, owner of Circle M Farms in Salem, NJ, said in a NJPPC press release. “I have increased my own plantings of yellow- and white-fleshed peaches and nectarines on my own farms.”

And people eagerly anticipate the first sign of the crop movement. With the use of social media today the council and growers can get the message out to the trade and consumers faster than ever.

Adam noted that last year’s crop was much earlier than normal, but this year’s seems to be back on a typical schedule.

The council continues its aggressive promotional efforts to get retailers, restaurants and farmers markets to participate in its “Peach Party” program.

“People are jumping on board to get involved in peach promotions,” said Adam. “Last year we had 31 ‘Peach Party’ events at restaurants, farmers markets and retailers. This year we have even more, but the final numbers aren’t in yet. They want to hold their events under our umbrellas because they can use our point-of-sale materials, such as our brochures and banners.”

Participants are allowed to develop their own event in ways that work best for them. A retail store, for example, can display banners and offer samplings. Farm stands can organize events that include activities for participants and restaurants can create a menu that includes peaches.

“Collingswood Farmers’ Market does a big peach event with a three-night promotional event,” said Adam. “It is located in Collingswood’s flourishing downtown business district. Melick Orchards in New Providence, Chatham Borough, holds a ‘Little Peach Queen’ event each year. This year Chatham High School contacted them and wanted to hold a high school peach queen. So now we have two Melick Orchards’ peach queens.”

In fact, there are now three peach queens in New Jersey. The state’s recognized peach queen is between the ages of 16 and 18, and is crowned on the last night of the annual Gloucester Township County Fair, which will be July 27 this year.

Adam added that Linda Casciano, the manager of the Hammonton Farmers’ Market, contacted her this year about the peach queen.

“She told me that the town of Hammonton had an annual peach queen from the 1940s through the 1960s, and they wanted to hold a reunion of their queens,” she said. “She asked if our reigning peach queen could be at the event. This ‘Peach Party’ promotional campaign has evolved in the funniest of ways.”

It has also evolved in widespread ways. Restaurants across New Jersey develop special fixed price menus where every dish contains peaches, some hold one-evening events and others run them for weeks. Farmers markets find amazingly creative ways to celebrate their state’s peach season. Retailers often participate by combining their campaign with the “Jersey Fresh” locally grown initiative.

The “Peach Party” promotions started five years ago, and three years ago, it added a peach pie contest to the campaign. The judging site is the Ramsey Farmers’ Market located at the Ramsey Train Station.

“We’re hoping to introduce the perfect peach pie,” said Adam. “And we’re hoping to get morning television show hosts to judge them. We will pick two winners; one from South Jersey and one from North Jersey. The winners get their choice of an overnight stay with dinner for two at an Atlantic City or Cape May hotel.”

The council and New Jersey peach growers continue to work hard to promote late season peaches. Adam said that there has been a mentality over the years that once school starts, people stop buying peaches and start buying apples.

“Growers continue to adjust their seasons to climate change, and they’re now producing peaches through late September,” she said. “Late-season peaches are really great varieties that are perfect for lunch boxes, deserts and inclusion in recipes.”

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