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Mark Blue Scholarship - Winners Story

Monday, 31 July 2017
Written by Adam Goldwater

Adam Goldwater recently returned from a fantastic two weeks in California, attending the Postharvest Technology of Horticultural Crops Short Course run by the University of California, Davis. Adam was a recipient of the Mark Blue Scholarship in 2016, and used the funds to help attend the course.

The world’s leading postharvest researchers from the University of California gave fascinating talks for the first week on the latest in postharvest science. Topics included cooling systems, maturity and quality assessment, ethylene management, transportation, flavor and aroma biology, food safety, and postharvest disease management. “To hear about and discuss the latest developments in these areas with experts was highly valuable. I came away from that week with a comprehensive understanding of postharvest considerations for a range of fruit and vegetable crops.”

To bring some of those topics to life, demonstrations and displays were shown in the laboratory. That included an impressive range of pathological disorders on produce, and methods for control. A number of innovative low-cost cooling systems were shown, including a low cost device called the CoolBot which allows for a conventional air conditioner to cool to 2°C; allowing smallholder farmers to cool produce without the need to purchase a more expensive conventional cooler.

“The highlight of the course was in the second week, where we had a whirlwind tour of Californian farms and postharvest operations. The huge scale of horticulture in California was incredible to see.”

“We toured Wonderful Citrus, one of the largest citrus growers and packers in the world. It was the largest packhouse operation I had seen before, with a number of innovative grading and packing systems including near-infrared grading for brix:acid ratios and robotic packers”.
Other visits included supermarket distribution centres; the largest carrot packer and processor in the US; and stonefruit, berry, mushroom, table grape, tomato and vegetable harvest and packing operations.

“What really stood out as a difference from Australia was the attention to cool chain management”. With summer temperatures frequently reaching 40°C, cooling product immediately after harvest, and keeping it cool is critical in maintaining quality of fresh produce in California. “Most packing lines and transport dispatch areas were refrigerated, which was essential for avoiding warming of product. We saw first-hand the attention given to supply chain temperature monitoring in visits to air, rail and truck freight-forwarding companies”.

Ninety participants from around the world attended the course, coming from roles such as quality assurance managers, researchers, produce importers and exporters and other supply chain service providers. “Connections I made with the other participants and course instructors have already been invaluable in my research, extension and training work here in Australia. I look forward to drawing on the experiences and knowledge gained in California in helping the Australian horticultural sector further improve their postharvest operations.

Adam Goldwater
Horticultural Researcher
Applied Horticultural Research
 

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