Handheld Ethylene Monitor for Apple Harvest and Storage Applications
Department of Agriculture
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Small Business Information
89 Rumford Avenue, NW, Newton, MA, 02466
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractSITUATION: Ethylene is a natural plant hormone that plays a crucial role in the complex processes of ripening and senescence (decay) of fruit, vegetable and floral crops. Improvements in apple harvest and storage practices can be achieved by convenient and reliable methods of measuring ethylene in the field. The current method of measuring ethylene (gas chromatography) is expensive, laboratory-based and requires a highly trained operator. The measurement of ethylene has gained added significance in apple harvest and storage practices since the introduction in 2002 of an ethylene inhibitory agent to preserve apple crops in storage. The inhibitor needs to be applied when the apple is at a particular stage of ripeness as determined, in part, by ethylene levels. PURPOSE: The Phase II focus is on developing a portable ethylene monitor for the apple industry, where improved agricultural practices resulting from use of the ethylene monitor could have a large technical and economic impact. (The U.S. apple crop in 2004 had cash receipts of $1.7 billion.) The anticipated result of the Phase II program would be a low-cost electrochemical ethylene monitor which has been tailored for and tested in the apple crop industry. A convenient, inexpensive monitor could be used to improve agricultural harvest, ripening and storage practices resulting in improved quality and cost of product. In potential future commercial development, the monitor could also be used for basic research and monitoring other fruit, vegetable and floral products.
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