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Researchers at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma and Ambient Temperature Extraction Partners are working together to use low temperature and low pressure to extract the oils from plants providing producers with two usable products. This process uses 100 percent of the plant.

Activities involve natural products and nutraceuticals; mechanisms involved in shelf life extension of horticultural products; processing technologies for adding value to horticultural commodities; new crops and crop improvement. Projects involving nutraceuticals have included capsaicinoids in peppers, lycopene from watermelon, thujone/camphor from sage and thymol/carvacrol from oregano. Current projects target nutraceuticals from Eastern Red Cedar and grape pomace, both underutilized Oklahoma resources.

Shelf life extension projects include defining the mechanism of opalescence in pecans and evaluating technologies to prevent it. Processing technologies under development include filtration processing for lycopene segregation from watermelon and collaboration on a project to develop x-ray as a non-destructive means for pecan grading and sorting. New crops under investigation include sage and oregano, both targeted for nutraceutical processing.

Postharvest Preservation and Processing Systems for New and Conventional Horticultural Commodities

The research develops postharvest handling and quality analysis procedures necessary for new crop/new use production/harvesting/processing systems to provide alternatives for Oklahoma producers and food processors. Capsaicinoid metabolism is being evaluated in pungent/high capsaicin pepper selections to better understand steps for improvement of the crop for extraction processing. Processing steps for lycopene production from watermelons are under development to provide a secondary marketing option.