HPC-30806 Product Quality and Post-Harvest Physiology


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Practical intensively supervised40
Project learning2
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. U van Meeteren
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. U van Meeteren
dr. J Harbinson
prof. dr. EJ Woltering
dr. JAL van Kan
Examiner(s)dr. ir. U van Meeteren

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

Basic Plant Physiology

Continuation courses:

Quality analyses of horticultural and other plant products; MSc Quality in food chains & MSc spec. Greenhouse Horticulture in MPS-Plant Sciences


Upon harvest plants, or parts of plants, are removed from the natural sources of water, nutrients and light that sustained their previous growth and development. This results in changes in the product that alter its value, usually decreasing it. The changes arising from the act of harvesting are superimposed on other changes that are independent of harvest that likewise have an effect on product value. Alterations in the product that reduce its value are ideally avoided. Post-harvest physiology seeks to understand the physical and physiological basis of the changes that occur in products post-harvest so as to control and augment positive changes while preventing or diminishing negative changes. As well as deepening the understanding of basic physiological processes such as respiration, membrane physiology etc, the course will extend the students' knowledge of physiology in to new areas dealing with specifically post-harvest features of plants and their component parts, for example ripening and senescence, modified and controlled atmospheres, ethylene physiology, and water uptake of cut flowers.

Learning outcomes:

Upon conclusion of the course the student will be expected to display an understanding of the following:
- the importance of post-harvest changes in the economics and practice of horticulture;
- the physical means by which product temperature control is achieved;
- the chemistry and structure of cell membranes;
- the role that membranes properties play in the cold sensitivity (chilling sensitivity) of tropical products;
- the physiology and molecular physiology of senescence and apoptosis in plants, and their role in product quality changes and deterioration;
- respiration, its role in the post-harvest deterioration of products, and its regulation by environmental management;
- the physical basis of water loss by products, and its reduction by environmental management and product treatment and handling;
- ethylene as a growth regulator in plants; its operation at the cellular level, the different effects it has on climacteric and non-climacteric products, and methods used to diminish ethylene-induced quality loss in products;
- the physical and biochemical basis of post-harvest colour changes in products;
- the underlying principles and practical applications of cooling, storing and packaging of products;
- the changes that occur in cut-flowers post-harvest and the strategies employed to slow down post-harvest quality-loss in this class of products;
- the biology of Botrytis, the role that it plays in post-harvest quality loss and countermeasures to prevent this.


- lectures;
- self study;
- practicals.


- 25% of final mark is derived from the mark of the practical reports;
- 75% of final mark is obtained from a written examination.


Kays and Paull, 2004. Postharvest Biology, Exon Press, Athens, GA, USA.

Restricted Optional for: MPSPlant SciencesMScB: Greenhouse Horticulture2MO
Compulsory for: WUQPCBSc Minor Quality of Fresh Plant Products in Supply Chains2MO