Horticulture Graduate Student Earns 2nd Place at National Professional Oral Competition

Kellie Walters placed 2nd in the American Society for Horticultural Science Controlled Environments Professional Interest Group Oral Presentation Competition

Last month at the ASHS annual conference, PhD candidate Kellie Walters received 2nd place in their Controlled Environments Professional Interest Group Oral Presentation Competition. She presented research titled “Consumer sensory preferences in response to manipulating fresh basil flavor through controlled environment light, temperature, and carbon dioxide (CO2) management” conducted with Drs. Bridget Behe and Roberto Lopez. The objectives of their research was to 1) determine if consumers can detect differences in basil flavor due to increasing light intensity, CO2 concentration, and air temperature and to 2) characterize consumer preferences to better inform production and marketing strategies.

Over all, consumers preferred basil grown under a light intensity of 200 µmol·m–2·s–1 the most because these samples had a less bitter taste, milder aftertaste, deeper green color, crisper texture, more moderate flavor, and more pleasant aroma. However, panelists preferred the larger leaf size of basil grown under 400 and 600 µmol·m–2·s–1 compared to plants grown under 100 or 200 µmol·m–2·s–1. Consumers indicated no differences in flavor between plants grown under different CO2 treatments. However, they preferred the appearance, texture, and color of basil grown under higher average daily temperatures (ADTs; 26 or 29 to 35 °C) compared to 23 °C due to the smaller leaf size of plants grown at higher ADTs, the more crisp texture, and the deeper color. However, plants grown with an ADT of 23 °C were less bitter than those grown at 35 °C; so overall liking between temperature treatments was not different. Therefore, consumer preferences should be considered and incorporated into controlled environment production and marketing decisions.

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