Research Resource: Commercial Storage of Fruits, Vegetables, and Florist and Nursery Stocks

The USDA regularly produces its Agricultural Handbook 66 – “The Commercial Storage of Fruits, Vegetables, and Florist and Nursery Stocks” to help guide long-term storage of these products. The handbook is dense, with info on optimal storage conditions for everything from Jerusalem Artichokes to Watercress. Each crop is given a brief overview which summarizes the expected loss when stored at certain conditions and also a summary of respiration rates to help with the sizing of any refrigeration that may be needed.

Many growers are probably familiar with the green book from 1986.  But did you know that a newer version is available online

Unlike previous editions, this edition presents summaries of the storage requirements of fresh fruits, vegetables, cut flowers, and other horticultural crops; as well as information on quality characteristics, maturity indices, grading, packaging, pre-cooling, retail display, chilling sensitivity, ethylene production and sensitivity, respiration rates, physiological disorders, postharvest pathology, quarantine issues, and suitability as fresh-cut product.  In addition, a number of fruits and vegetables were added, as well as sections on food safety and fresh-cut produce.

The purpose of storing plant material is to lengthen the time it can be consumed or utilized.  In doing
so, it is critical to provide an environment that minimizes deterioration, maintaining safety and quality while lengthening the marketing- or shelf-life.  The intent of HB-66 is to provide guidelines for storing produce in an optimal environment in order to accomplish this.

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.