UF scientists plan to lengthen the shelf life of artichokes

We’re in the heart of Florida’s artichoke season, so when you go to the grocery store, you want this consumer favorite to be ripe and fresh. But the vegetable has a short shelf life – about two days at 62 degrees, University of Florida experts say.

UF/IFAS researchers are using genetics to preserve artichokes another day or two, which helps everyone in the food chain – from the farmer to the grocer to the consumer.

Shinsuke Agehara. Courtesy, UF/IFAS.

For now, after you purchase an artichoke at the grocery store, it stays good for up to one week in a refrigerator. But it’s best if you eat it within a few days, said Shinsuke Agehara, a UF/IFAS associate professor of horticultural sciences.

“This limitation not only affects how well we can market artichokes, it’s why we want to explore innovative preservation techniques,” said Tie Liu, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of horticultural sciences at the main UF campus in Gainesville.

In a new study, Liu and Agehara are analyzing the RNA sequences of various artichoke cultivars. By doing so, they hope to identify specific genetic markers or traits associated with desirable characteristics such as longer shelf life.

This process is far faster than conventional plant breeding. Marker-assisted selection allows for the targeted breeding of cultivars with improved shelf life without the need for time-consuming and resource-intensive traditional breeding methods.

It could include traits such as slower postharvest deterioration, enhanced resistance to physiological disorders or improved storage characteristics, Liu said.

Liu and Agehara want artichokes to last longer because of the increasing demand for the crop. Globally, artichoke production has been increasing gradually since the 1980s. It was 3,493 million pounds in 2022, up 20% and 11% since 2000 and 2010, respectively, Agehara said.

“In the United States, artichoke production has been consistent over the last 20 years, with nearly 100% being produced in California,” said Agehara, who has grown artichokes at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center for nine years. “In Florida, growers are looking for more profitable, alternative crops, and the interest in this high-value crop has been increasing.”

“For consumers, artichokes with a longer shelf life stay fresh and offer them more time to enjoy them before they spoil. If we can extend their shelf life, we can reduce food waste and save money,” Liu said. “For growers, longer shelf life reduces the risk of postharvest losses due to spoilage during storage, transportation or on store shelves. This helps minimize financial losses and maximizes the return on investment for growers.”


The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS brings science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.

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Feeding a hungry world takes effort. Nearly everything we do comes back to food: from growing it and getting it to consumers, to conserving natural resources and supporting agricultural efforts. Explore all the reasons why at ifas.ufl.edu/food or follow #FoodIsOurMiddleName.



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Posted: March 5, 2024

Category: Agriculture, UF/IFAS
Tags: Artichokes, Cultivars, Fresh, Gulf Coast Research And Education Center, Horticultural Sciences, RNA, Shelf Life, Shinsuke Agehara, Tie Liu

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