“New Technologies for Storage of Horticultural Products—There Is More to Adoption Than Availability” is the title of Christopher B. Watkins‘ 2016 ARS B.Y. Morrison Memorial Lecture, which he delivered today at the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) annual conference in Atlanta.
Watkins is director of Cornell University Cooperative Extension as well as a professor of postharvest science in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science and associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell.
Watkins has contributed to the success of fruit and floral industries around the world as a leader in postharvest science and outreach. His research about controlled atmosphere biology, edible quality of fruit management, and chilling injury prevention is used across varieties and cultivars, across species, and across production areas.
In particular, Watkins has remained at the forefront of addressing significant apple industry issues by applying new developments in postharvest technologies. His research about the artificial ripening regulator 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) is instrumental in the understanding of apple ethylene biology, both from a scientific standpoint and from industry’s applied perspective and practical need to control ripening.
Within the floral industry, 1-MCP is used to preserve the freshness of ornamental plants and flowers. Growers, packers and shippers use 1-MCP to maintain the quality of fruits and vegetables as diverse as kiwifruit, tomatoes, plums, persimmons, avocados and melons.
By implementing the postharvest practices developed by Dr. Watkins, the apple industry has greatly improved the quality of fruit delivered to consumers while reducing or eliminating the use of synthetic postharvest chemicals. His research with ‘Honeycrisp’ apples identified a postharvest strategy that has largely eliminated postharvest chilling injury, which has allowed this variety to achieve a profitability unprecedented in the apple industry.
The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) established this memorial lectureship in 1968 to honor the memory of Benjamin Y. Morrison (1891-1966) and to recognize scientists who have made outstanding contributions to horticulture and other environmental sciences, to encourage the use of these sciences, and to stress the urgency of preserving and enhancing natural beauty. Morrison was a pioneer in horticulture and the first director of ARS’s U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, DC. A scientist, landscape architect, plant explorer, author and lecturer, Morrison advanced the science of botany in the United States and fostered broad international exchange of ornamental plants.
ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture‘s chief in-house scientific research agency.