QUALITY OF ORGANIC AND CONVENTIONAL GREENHOUSE CUCUMBERS AND TOMATOES

D. Wees, K.A. Stewart
The demand for organic food has greatly increased in the past decade. Many informal sources claim that organic vegetables, fertilized with composts and other organic materials, taste better and are of better quality than those grown with conventional fertilizers. In a series of trials (1996-2009), six cultivars of seedless “English” or “Beit Alpha” greenhouse cucumbers (‘Euphya’, ‘Pyralis’, ‘Sandra’, ‘Saskia’, ‘Corona’ and ‘Picobello’) and four cultivars of greenhouse tomatoes (‘Capello’, ‘Bounty’, ‘Trust’ and ‘DRK-452’) were grown with conventional water-soluble fertilizers and peat-based substrates or with fish emulsion and seaweed extract and soil-based media enriched with compost. All plants were grown in the same greenhouse and only biological methods of pest control were used. In double-blind taste tests, participants generally preferred the conventional cucumbers (50-64% of tasters) over the organic ones (29-38% of tasters with 2-14% expressing no preference) except in 1996-1997 with the cultivar ‘Euphya’ where 70% preferred organic, 25% preferred conventional and 5% expressed no preference. In general, participants also had a slight, but statistically insignificant, preference for conventional tomatoes (53-54% of tasters vs. 37-42% who preferred organic and 4-10% expressing no preference) except in 1997-1998 with the cultivar ‘Bounty’ when 46% preferred organic, 44% preferred conventional and 10% expressed no preference. Fruits harvested from organic and conventional production systems were found to have almost identical soluble solid contents but these varied according to year and cultivar: 2.8 to 3.7°Brix for cucumbers and 3.7 to 4.8°Brix for tomatoes. In some years, pH of the fruit was also measured and little difference was found between the two treatments.
Wees, D. and Stewart, K.A. (2011). QUALITY OF ORGANIC AND CONVENTIONAL GREENHOUSE CUCUMBERS AND TOMATOES. Acta Hortic. 893, 1209-1214
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2011.893.141
https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2011.893.141
°Brix, compost, fish emulsion, flavour, seaweed extract, soluble solids, taste
English

Acta Horticulturae