The ‘Altes Land‘ is the biggest closed fruit growing area in Northern Europe. On about 10 000 hectares mostly pome and stone fruit is produced. The main cultivar are apples, with a harvest volume of more than three million tons.
The Esteburg research station in Jork belongs to the chamber of agriculture and is the central contact point for tree fruit research in northern Germany. Their department of fruit storage and fruit quality is in charge of the storage experiments of apples and blueberries in the QCAP project. There is a direct link to the farmers via the Fruit Advisory Service of the Altes Land (OVR) which consults fruit farms in the region and Nationwide.
The first blueberry storage season for the QCAP project was finished in November 2017, while the apple storage trials lasted until May 2018. The fruit was tested for the firmness and the sugar and acid contents. In addition, the substances acetaldehyde, ethylacetat and ethanol in the fruit juice were measured with the gas chromatograph. The air samples of the storage rooms were sent to the project partner Cranfield University in England, for further analysis of the volatile compounds. In this way, the project partners can together identify the relation between the gases released by the fruits and various degradation processes that influence the fruit quality.
In the next storage season, Esteburg will experiment with the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the storage rooms, to find out which storage conditions induce storage disease. Also, a new laser prototype constructed by project partner NKT will be tested in the experimental
storage rooms at Esteburg. This laser will be able to detect the gases released by the fruits in much more detail, enabling a more accurate indication of the fruit quality in the storage rooms.