New spray could extend shelf life by 50 per cent
By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content
A new spray developed by a University of Guelph professor could help extend the shelf life of fruit by as much as 50 per cent.
The spray was developed by Jay Subramanian, a professor of plant agriculture. It uses a nanotechnology application of hexanal, a plant extract that prevents fruit from spoiling.
“It is a natural product, produced by every single plant,” he said in an interview with CBC. “So if you’ve ever eaten a fruit, you’ve eaten this compound.”
He said when fruit shrivels as it rots, that’s the fruit’s way of showing its age. The hexanal prevents the enzymes that break down the fruit’s cell walls.
He said after the walls are protected, the cells and entire fruit are kept intact, allowing the fruit to stay fresh for a longer period of time.
The hexanal can be applied one or two weeks prior to harvest, or the crops can be dipped in it afterwards and gently rinsed off.
Subramanian said bananas and mangoes have been able to stay fresh for 23 days after hexanal use.
That can lead to higher profits for farmers.
"Let's say a mango farmer sprays half or one third of the orchard with the formulation," he told Phys.org. "He gets that same mango production but spread out over a three- to four-week window instead of just one week, which causes a major rush and a glut in the market, leading to low prices."
In an interview with Motherboard, Subramanian said farmers are eager to
have the product immediately available for commercial use.
“(It’s) not going to be possible, but that’s the message we got,” he said.