The 5th edition of the Postharvest Technology course was held in Wageningen last week. Course leaders Ernst Woltering and Julian Verdonk, lecturers, Rob Schouten, Eelke Westra, Leo Lukasse, Jan van Kan, Marcel Wenneker, Jan Verschoor, and guest course leader Mary Lu Arpaia, were put together in four days of lectures, demo’s and pitches, and and excursion. We hosted participants from industry and education from all over the world, to teach them about product physiology and the cold chain of a large variety of fruits, vegetables and ornamental plant products.
Day 1 lectures on plant product physiology, quality and deterioration, with a special section focusing on cut flowers, potted plants and cuttings. In the evening, we had drinks, followed by a social diner, that we prepared ourselves.
Day 2 lectures on ethylene, and chilling injury, temperature, reefer transport and ripening of tropical fruit, followed by a tour in the Phenomea facility of FBR to see the application of theory in practice.
Day 3 we learned about disorders, diseases, insects and ways to use modified atmosphere and ethylene blocking to extend storage of plant products. We ended the lecture program with pitches and Q&A on various new technologies within the postharvest domain that will likely to enter commercial practice within 5 years: non-destructive quality measurements by Aneesh Chauhan; improved automation, robotisation and “deep learning” technologies for sorting and objective quality control by Rick vd Zedde; use of LED-light treatments before and after harvest to improve product quality by Ernst Woltering; and use of Big Data and ”Bayesian networks” for product quality prediction by Eelke Westra. After that all participants received their certificate.
Day 4 we visited cool storage facility NedCool, tomato packer and distributor Prominent and fruit importer and ripener Natures Pride. We had a great time, everybody was very interested and asked us a lot of questions. We hope to again host a group of such enthousiast participants in 2019 for the 6th edition!