Hazel Technologies, a USDA-funded company developing new shelf-life extension technologies for fresh produce, recently launched Hazel Cherry, a new post-harvest technology for fresh cherries that helps ensure fruit quality.
Cherry packers in the Pacific Northwest successfully piloted the technology, a quarter-sized biodegradable and food-safe packaging insert that is placed in the box during packing, in the 2018 season, the company said. Cornell University further validated its performance in a month-long study. Hazel Cherry helps protect stem quality, reduce pitting and reduce probability of decay in commercial fresh cherry varieties.
“We are constantly looking for the newest technologies to help ensure the highest level of quality,” said Deidre Baumgarten, manager of Polehn Farms, based in The Dalles OR. “In 2018, we used Hazel Cherry on our export grade cherries and had excellent quality arrivals in Asia.”
Traditionally, cherries are one of the most difficult produce items to maintain with excellent quality, but due to their high value in global markets are exported heavily. Stem quality, pitting and decay are challenges fresh cherry packers and shippers consistently face. Following the 2018 season, fresh cherry packers reported improved quality when using Hazel Cherry, the company claimed. Additionally, Cornell, in a July and August 2018 study, found improvements in pitting, decay and stem quality with Hazel Cherry versus a control group.
“Our study showed using Hazel Cherry compared to an untreated control can result in better stem quality, lower decay and lower rate of pitting in the ‘Royal’ cherry variety,” said Cornell professor Chris Watkins.
The Cornell study lasted 33 days, and the trial results were “statistically significant,” Hazel Technologies maintained.
For the upcoming 2019 season, further academic trials studying Hazel Cherry are planned, and the company said industry interest is growing.
“We are grateful for the partnership of our trial partners in the Pacific Northwest and look forward to continued adaption and success for packers and retailers using Hazel Cherry in their supply chains,” said Aidan Mouat, CEO and co-founder of Hazel Technologies.