Postharvest Qualities and Nutrient Content of Vegetable Crops Grown with or without Compost

Nancy E. Roe, Mark A. Ritenour


There have been few studies of the effects of compost on the postharvest quality and quality retention of vegetables. In this study, we grew tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.), pepper (Capsicum annuum L.), and cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) fruit, and lettuce (Lactuca sativa) leaves with or without compost and determined tomato, pepper, and cucumber fruit and lettuce leaf nutrient uptake and tested the quality of their fruit before and after storage. The experiments were conducted over two seasons in southeastern Florida on raised beds with polyethylene mulch, drip irrigation, and fertigation. Treatments were no-compost, single-year compost, and multi-year compost. Horse manure compost was applied at 10 wet tons per acre the first season and 19 wet tons per acre the second season. Tomato fruit Ca was different only in the first season, P was different in both seasons, and K was different in the second season with similar trends in the first season. In the first season, Ca in the pepper fruit was higher from plants in the no-compost plots, Mn was lower in fruit from the multi-year compost plots, and Cu was lower in fruit from plants in the single- year compost plots than the from plants in the other two treatments. In the second season, Mn was again lower in plants from compost plots, as was Zn. There were no differences in cucumber fruit nutrients during the first season, and in the second season only P was higher in plants from the multi-year compost treatment. During the first season, lettuce leaf Ca was higher in plants from the multi-year compost plots than in plants from the single-year compost and no-compost plots, with no differences during the second season. The growth of these crops with and without compost resulted in few differences in postharvest storage quality in any of the crops and no clear trends.


Lycopersicon esculentum, Cucumis sativus, Lactuca sativa, Capsicum annuum, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, pepper

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283