Project: Improved performance in the strawberry production and supply chain using innovative quality assessment and control

The aim of the QBerrySure project is to develop strawberry quality assays using innovative molecular diagnostics, integrated with crop management systems. This will allow optimizing downstream chain decisions and production management, thus preventing losses and improving product quality and sustainability._x000D__x000D_The total value of strawberry production in Europe is around 2.500 million €. Despite research efforts on crop management and post-harvest conditions, there are still large losses throughout the supply chain. Estimated losses at the wholesale, retail, and consumer level are 6%, 5% and 18% respectively, and 10% during strawberry runner plant production. Growers and traders are currently lacking tools to assess strawberry quality. Losses only become clear when it is too late to take measures. The tools developed in the proposed project are vital to solve these problems. Three types of tools will be developed:_x000D__x000D_ 1. Storability of young runner plants during winter is an important issue for plant nurseries, specialized in providing production plants to the industry. So far, reliable assays to predict both plant storability and vitality are absent. Whereas uniformity can be assessed by eye, storability and plant vitality need more advanced methods to be quantified. In this project, we will develop a quality assay for plant storability and vitality to be used by nurseries in their decision making which will lead to reduced losses and higher quality and productivity._x000D__x000D_ 2. Subsequent plant growth is also of vital importance for successful strawberry production. Currently, crop health is controlled by monitoring production factors such as temperature, humidity, light and nutrition. However, these measurements do not indicate the properties of the crop. It is anticipated that fast and reliable measurements at the plant level will improve current monitoring systems and aid growers in obtaining larger production volumes and higher fruit quality._x000D__x000D_ 3. Once produced, strawberry fruit are a highly perishable product. In the strawberry chain the CO cause of product loss is Botrytis cinerea. While it is known that higher humidity and temperature will increase the risk of decay, there can be a large differences in susceptibility between batches. Fruit softening is another CO factor limiting quality and shelf-life of strawberries. Softening is strongly influenced by the pre-harvest environment, leading to considerable differences between batches. Identification of batches that have a high risk profile for Botrytis infection and fruit softening will reduce losses in the post-harvest chain and will lead to lower use of chemicals and lower residues on the fruit._x000D__x000D_In the project end users of the developed technology and technology providers cooperate. Neessen is a large supplier of strawberry plants. Neessen specializes in propagating strawberry planting stock for propagators and propagating strawberry plants for strawberry. Wallings is a large producer of strawberries in the UK. The project’s CO participant, NSure, is an expert in assay development based on molecular diagnostics (MD). MD is a novel technology that makes use of profiling the activity of genes. In the project DLV Plant in the Netherlands, DLV Plant Belgium and DLV Plant UK participate. These companies have a world-class reputation in the field of agro-consultancy, and also perform their own scientific research. They are independent SME's and have complimentary expertise and knowledge which is crucial to develop technology that is broadly applicable in the strawberry sector in Europe. The project is supported by The Greenery and Fragaria, both important players in the strawberry sector. They will take part in the steering committee of the project, to share their expertise and discuss general direction and progress. The Greenery is a leading international fruit and vegetable supplier. Fragaria is a joint venture of six Dutch strawberry plant propagators, amongst which is project P Neessen. These nurseries produce plant material for a large number of growers in Europe and overseas. _x000D__x000D_After successful completion of the project NSure will introduce a range of quality assays to the market. DLV Plant will be able to improve the quality of its advisory services by integrating the new quality tests into their SQMS. For production and trade companies application of the new tools will enable a better tuning of product quality with the demands of the market and the logistic chain. This will lead to improved product quality and reduced product loss. Ultimately this will lead to better operational margins and increase the overall competitiveness of strawberry growers and traders. Also, higher product quality will lead to increased consumer satisfaction and increased demand. Moreover, the new technology will allow a better management of pesticides, water and nutrients thus contributing to sustainability and minimizing residue levels on fruit.

Acronym QBerrySure (Reference Number: 7295)
Duration 01/09/2012 - 31/08/2015
Project Topic This project aims to develop strawberry quality assays using innovative molecular diagnostics, integrated with crop management systems. This will allow optimizing downstream chain decisions and production management, thus preventing losses and improving product quality and sustainability.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 8

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
6 Neessen Aardbei en Aspergeplanten V.O.F. Partner Netherlands
6 DLV Plant UK Ltd. Partner United Kingdom
6 NSure B.V. Coordinator Netherlands
6 DLV Plant Belgium C.V.B.A. Partner Belgium
6 Wallings Nursery Ltd. Partner United Kingdom
6 DLV Plant B.V. Partner Netherlands