Breeding for Postharvest Quality in Flowers and Vegetables

Improved cultivar selection is proposed to be key in maintaining quality of chrysanthemums, peppers and cucumbers in sustainable chains. New methods are needed for high-throughput screening of post-harvest traits related to water loss.


Water loss is a major determinant of postharvest shelf life. Horticultural products contain 80-95% water, and a few percent of water loss will have an immediate effect on product quality. It is a major cause of postharvest losses. Some of the current trends for more sustainable fresh chains may have a negative impact on a product’s capacity to retain water, or may require an improved control over water loss. Examples of these trends are cultivation techniques using less energy, alternative transport methods like transport by sea, and reduction of plastic packaging.

To meet the demands of society for a sustainable production and a reduction of food waste, future cultivars should not only have high yield, good taste and resistance to (a)biotic stresses, but also resistance to water stress, which prevails in the postharvest chain. Currently there is a gap in our knowledge about traits of importance for postharvest performance and methodologies to screen in high throughput for such traits.

Partners in this consortium want to develop knowledge and methods to develop germplasm better suited to the new (future) demands to:


The objectives of this project are (i) to investigate the physiological, biochemical and genetic basis of processes involved in resistance to water loss, (ii) to apply this knowledge by developing high throughput and objective screening methods for crops like chrysanthemum, cucumber and pepper and (iii) to validate these methods in company’s germplasm. The knowledge and tools will come together in a toolkit, enabling breeding of cultivars resistant to water loss. The project team consists of a unique consortium of academic researchers form Wageningen UR and major flower- and vegetable- breeding companies. The ultimate goal is to work towards high quality cultivars with improved control of water loss.