How can wholesale and retail in Norway best preserve the quality of healthy broccoli? Nofima has found some of the answers. Photo: Jon-Are Berg-Jacobsen/Nofima

Project Year 2015

Broccoli – climate and storage

Where is the healthiest and tastiest broccoli produced? And how is the quality best preserved after harvest?

For three years Nofima researchers and their partners conducted extensive trials to find out how different light and temperature conditions from field to table affect the quality of the healthy, green vegetable.

Broccoli has been grown in greenhouses simulating different climate zones in Norway, as well as outdoors in four test fields from 43 to 69 degrees north.

“Different growing conditions can result in broccoli with different sensory and health-related quality,” says project manager and recently retired senior researcher Gunnar Bengtsson. An interesting finding, particularly for us in Norway, was that a cold period before harvest resulted in a higher level of vitamin C.

Complex storage trials that simulated the wholesale and retail stages in Norway have given researchers knowledge on how quality best may be preserved all the way to the consumer.

“Temperature has the greatest impact on the keepability of broccoli and thus the quality at the time of purchase,” says postdoctoral fellow Sidsel Fiskaa Hagen. The lower the temperature, the better – both in wholesale and in stores. Light conditions are far less important, but different types of light may be used to optimise the content of health-related constituents, including vitamin C, glucosinolates and polyphenols.

Nofima’s researchers have used different methods to find out what is going on in the plants. In addition to monitoring selected phytochemicals and nutrients, they have used so-called ‘omics’ techniques for a more holistic picture of how the broccoli’s internal machinery is affected by external stimuli. In these analyses they have studied thousands of plant compounds and broccoli genes – simultaneously.

The project has carefully documented effects of temperature and light on health-related compounds in broccoli throughout the value chain. This allows for better optimisation of the quality of broccoli both during growth and in distribution.

The knowledge generated in the project forms a basis for increased value and greater consumption of broccoli.

NMBU, NIBIO, research communities in the UK, Germany and Spain, as well as BAMA Gruppen, Gartnerhallen and Coop Norge

The Research Council of Norway, Nofima and partners

More useful research results