Postharvest PhysioIogy and Pathology of Vegetables, 2nd Edition by Jerry A. Bartz and Jeffrey K. Brecht

Bibliographic Information:
Title: Postharvest PhysioIogy and Pathology of Vegetables
Editor: Jerry A. Bartz
Jeffrey K. Brecht
Edition: 2nd, Revised and Expanded
Publisher: Marcel and Dekker (CRC Press)
Length: 712 pages
Size: 10.4 MB
Language: English

Postharvest Physiology of Vegetables is extremely useful to everyone concerned with the
production and marketing of fresh vegetables. It presents the physiology and associated
pathology of fresh vegetables under a single cover. Teachers, students, and researchers,
as well as the vegetable industry, can read about the scientific principles that govern the
postharvest life of fresh vegetables. The first edition’s editor (J. Weichmann) urged his
contributors to concentrate on the postharvest physiology of the various plant organs because
he sensed the need for a comprehensive discussion of the physiological factors that
influence the postharvest life of fresh vegetables. There was no other book quite like the
one Weichmann had in mind. He recognized that physiology, not technology, dictates
how crops must be handled to maintain optimal quality with minimal waste. Recognizing
similarities and differences between various crop physiologies is essential to successful
marketing strategies.
Weichmann wrote in the Preface to the first edition that he was motivated by the
absence of a book on the “basic postharvest physiology in the botanical sense.” Except
for Postharvest Physiology of Vegetables, this remains largely true today. Books about
the postharvest world of crops deal mostly with fruits, toxins in stored grains, and storage
technology. Therefore, the second edition is dedicated to those who labor with harvested
vegetables, particularly with their physiology or microbiology.
Now, more than 10 years after the first edition of Postharvest Physiology of Vegetables
was published, it seems appropriate to revisit the postharvest world of vegetables to
find what’s new, what’s still useful, and how the new and still useful can be meshed
together to reduce wastage, improve quality, and, most importantly, provide products desired
by consumers. In the past decade, consumers have found that a diet rich in fresh
fruits and vegetables is healthful and fulfilling, as well as one of the best guarantees against
health problems ranging from obesity to cancer. Modern markets have strived to provide
consumers with an ambundance of different fresh fruits and vegetables. Produce sections
of supermarkets are usually located near the store entrance to convince customers that the
market is clean, progressive, and, in general, a nice place to shop. New ways of marketing
fresh produce are being devised, including ready-to-eat fruit and vegetable salads, fruit
sections, vegetable sticks, and stir-fry vegetables. The new paradigm in produce marketing,
which includes providing convenience, a bright, fresh appearance, desired texture,
freedom from undesirable microorganisms, and homegrown flavor, has created new challenges
for the postharvest practitioner.
Advances in plant physiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology have had great
effects on our knowledge and understanding of postharvest physiology. For example, new
evidence on the role of ethylene and other plant hormones in various tissue and cellular
processes is presented on a seemingly daily basis. The importance of membrane phenomena
and membrane compositional changes in the response of plant organs to postharvest
stresses is more recognized now than ever. Similarly, there is a greater appreciation for
the influence of preharvest environmental and cultural factors on postharvest behavior.
Information regarding the mechanisms of atmosphere modification in maintaining plant
tissue integrity is transforming what was once strictly an empirical field of study. The
growth in popularity of fresh-cut products has focused new attention on wound responses,
an understanding of which is critical to the development of handling procedures for these
Since the world of vegetables postharvest has changed markedly in recent years,
we felt that to be useful the book had to be expanded. As a consequence, sections and
chapters were added or reorganized. The title of the book was changed to reflect the
coverage of microbial ecosystems on vegetables. Unfortunately, certain topics such as
biotechnology and food safety are so dynamic that it is impossible to stay abreast of the
latest findings. We ask our readers to be patient with such apparent lapses, for they are
out of our control. We feel that the new organization presents a complete treatment of
postharvest vegetables.
Chapter topics are grouped into six parts: basic postharvest physiology, factors affecting
postharvest physiology, product quality changes during handling and storage, technologies
to improve postharvest quality, biotic and abiotic factors involved with spoilage,
and storage characteristics of different categories of vegetables. An introductory chapter
contains a brief history of the changes in the postharvest world of vegetables over the
past decade. It is clear that technological advances have been made possible only because
of knowledge about the postharvest physiology of the raw and fresh-cut products.
Part I, “Basic Postharvest Physiology of Vegetables,” contains updated reviews of
the principles involved with the harvest and storage of fresh vegetables. Part II, “Factors
Affecting Postharvest Physiology,” includes two new chapters: Chapter 6, on preharvest
factors such as calcium nutrition and control of irrigation, which affect the postharvest
life of vegetables, and Chapter 7, which covers wound healing, nonspecific respiration
increase, as well as the effect of injuries on the physiology of the crop. In addition, three
chapters from the previous edition on atmosphere modifications as postharvest treatments
have been combined into one to provide a more coherent treatment of the subject.
Part III, “Product Quality Changes During Handling and Storage,” has been modified.
We have deleted chapters on amino acids and minerals and separated the previous
sensory quality chapter into three chapters on color, texture, and flavor and aroma, reflecting
the recognition of the physiological basis of sensory aspects in postharvest physiology.
Part IV, “Technologies To Improve Postharvest Quality,” is entirely new, containing discussions of the physiological foundations of successful technologies in the areas
of harvest and handling, chemical treatments, and biotechnology.
Part V, “Biotic and Abiotic Factors Involved with Spoilage,” is a revision of the
previous edition’s part on postharvest diseases and injuries. Modifications include Chapter
19, “Temperature Extremes,” which replaces chapters on chilling and freezing injury and
frost damage and adds a discussion of high-temperature injury that was not in the previous
edition. The chapter on host–parasite relations now includes recent findings on changes
in host susceptibility to postharvest pathogens. The chapter on bacteria contains recent
information about the survival and growth of human pathogens on fresh vegetables. Two
new chapters in this part include one devoted to the control of spoilage using “biocontrol”
methods and a separate treatment of the use of sanitation to control spoilage and other
hazardous organisms—including a discussion of HACCP as it applies to fresh product
The last part, “Storage Characteristics of Different Categories of Vegetables,” contains
modifications to the “Postharvest Physiology of Certain Vegetables” part of the first
edition. We have categorized vegetables by type of tissue or organ so that their physiology
can be discussed on the basis of similarities within a category. Additionally, fresh-cut
vegetables are covered under a separate chapter because of the complex nature of preventing
the consequences of wound physiology.
Our chapter authors were selected carefully and represent a range of disciplines,
including postharvest researchers and teachers from horticulture, plant pathology, microbiology,
food science, and engineering. This is fitting because the challenges and problems
ahead are not likely to be restricted to any one discipline. Multidisciplinary approaches
will become the normal way to solve intransigent postharvest problems in the years to
come. We asked the contributors to focus first on the basic principles of postharvest physiology
and pathology related to their topic, and then to expand where appropriate to illustrate
how those principles relate to the postharvest characteristics and behavior of vegetables.
We also asked them to cover the technologies that have been developed for
maintaining vegetable quality after harvest. We feel that they have succeeded admirably
in that regard. We express gratitude to them for agreeing to contribute to this volume,
devoting time and energy to the cause, turning out excellent analyses of their topic, and
remaining patient with us throughout the process.
It is the express purpose of this book to review various components of the postharvest
world of vegetables. We hope that students of all ages will be stimulated into devising
ways for better preservation of vegetable quality, more vegetable products (particularly
fresh-cut vegetables), safer products, and a wider array of vegetables in the marketplace—
all leading to healthier diets, less strain on the environment, and a happier society.

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