News and Stories

FROM THE FIELDS: Value-Added Salad Shelf-Life

August 23, 2018

Shelf-life performance for some romaine-based value-added salad items has been below-normal for the past week. Markon inspectors have observed elevated mechanical damage, premature breakdown, and decay as early as day nine on items that have a 14 day shelf-life.

The Salinas Valley experienced above-normal temperatures and humidity levels in mid-July through early August. These conditions caused accelerated growth, which can result in a weaker plant cell structure in some lettuces. The darker romaine varieties that have recently been utilized are more resistant to heat issues such as internal burn, but can be more susceptible to mechanical damage throughout harvesting and processing when they mature too quickly; they can also respire at a faster rate.

Weather conditions have returned to seasonal norms and raw product managers are reporting that they’ve already started harvesting a higher percentage of romaine varieties that are lighter in color and less prone to mechanical damage issues. Quality and shelf-life is expected to improve for the time being. Markon inspectors will be monitoring finished packs closely, particularly as we near the end of the Salinas season and conditions become more volatile.

Cold-chain management will remain critical for maximizing quality and shelf-life. Ordering for quick turns is recommended.

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Please contact your Markon customer service representative for further information.

John Galvez

Quality Assurance

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