Postharvest Technology of Fruit and Vegetables

Module summary

Module code: FOOD1021
Level: 7
Credits: 15
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Natural Resources Institute
Module Coordinator(s): Deborah Rees



The development of technology for postharvest handling of food crops and commodities has been central to the development of human civilisation and is key to maintaining worldwide food supplies. Fruit and vegetables provide an essential component of human nutrition but are more perishable than staple crops such as grains so that the technology of handling and storing these commodities is particularly challenging.
The module aims to:
• Provide an understanding of the biology of harvested fruit and vegetables.
• Provide an understanding of the technologies employed to maintain quality.
• Enable students to use the knowledge of biological processes and technologies to understand how these commodities response to changing environmental conditions.
• Provide the background knowledge and understanding to allow post-harvest management decisions to be made that maintain quality and reduce losses.
• Provide students with the necessary skills to enable them to design and carry out appropriate trials as would be carried out by fresh produce technologists to test new handling and storage strategies.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:
1. critically evaluate and reflect upon the physiological changes which
occur in harvested horticultural produce in order to make appropriate post-harvest
management decisions;
2. critically evaluate the impact of environmental factors on physiological processes and be able to make
general recommendations on conditions for extending the post-harvest life of horticultural
produce during transportation or storage or during the controlled ripening of fruit;
3. select and apply methods used to monitor and measure post-harvest physiological processes and environmental parameters and analyse and interpret results with reference to post-harvest management;
4. Identify sources of information needed to determine the technical feasibility of developing an export trade for a specified commodity and make initial plans for export trials.

Indicative content

• Nutritional aspects of fruit and vegetables.
• The storage environment: Methods of measurement and effects on produce.
• Humidity in the storage environment, water loss and implications for quality
• Respiration of fruit and vegetables
• Biology and technology of fruit ripening
• Ethylene as a plant hormone and the effects of 1-MCP
• Temperature control and Chilling injury
• Modified and controlled atmospheres in storage of fruit and vegetables
• Physiological disorders of fruit and vegetables
• Standard and novel methods of quality assessment
• Recent developments in postharvest technology
• Experimental design and writing scientific reports

Teaching and learning activity

The Module will be presented using a combination of presentations, case studies, demonstrations and practical sessions. Students will be encouraged to interact with the presenters and among themselves to ensure full understanding of the material presented. Study materials will be supplied to each student to compliment the information discussed during lectures etc. As students are likely to come from varying backgrounds, wherever possible, examples and case studies will be chosen from their home countries to illustrate the principles introduced.

The level of comprehension of Module material is monitored by a formal assessment at the end of the Module.


Exam: 50% weighting, 50% pass mark.
Learning Outcomes: 1 - 4.
Duration: 1.5 hour exam.
Outline Details: Unseen closed book exam.

Practical Report: 50% weighting, 50% pass mark.
Learning Outcomes: 1 - 4.
Word Length: 1500 words.
Outline Details: A report written independently by each on a practical carried out jointly and with supervision over 2-3 weeks of the Module.

Formative Assessment: Problem solving using Postharvest case studies
At intervals throughout the Module students will be given information in the form of a case study, and will be asked to provide a written analysis of the postharvest problems, with a summary of possible solutions.