Varieties of Fourth Range Products
A cultivar of a fruit and vegetable product assigned to fourth range must necessarily have some quality characteristics that satisfy consumers and physiological characteristics suitable to provide high resistance to deterioration in conditions of organs fragmentations and high humidity typical of fourth range.
Compared to the most traded products in the fruit and vegetable sector for fourth range, where salads are first, it is preferable to opt for varieties with low level of enzymes that contribute to the degrading processes (darkening, softening, production of volatile substances). Varieties sensitive to cold are more difficult to preserve, also because damages caused by cold limit the use of low temperatures to control deterioration. Choosing varieties that are less sensitive to cold permits a larger flexibility in managing temperatures and a better preservations and quality of products.
In order to guarantee continuity of production, according to the consumption markets expectations, we need varieties, whose cultivation does not depend on seasons and that therefore can be cultivated throughout all the year, or varieties with the same organoleptic and physiologic characteristics, but different as to their adaptation to seasonal conditions.
Furthermore, the genetic resistance to diseases of a fruit and vegetable variety compared to another allows to assure the integrity of the product, avoiding or reducing the use phytosanitary products and the consequent accumulation of residuals in the product: integrity and lack of stress contribute to reduce both the level of metabolic activity of the vegetable and the way of access and stimulus to microbial colonization before processing.
Another factor permitting the choice or a variety instead of another is the fruit or vegetable size, above all in certain species (for example curly endive and escarole), because of the higher performance in processing (percentage of whitecning, less residual and less work for men).
What is more, the continuing increase in the sector of fourth range products, justifies and stimulates the selection of cultivars specifically suitable for fourth range: some companies specialized in seed for example already mention for some species the most suitable varieties to fourth range.
Nowadays, however. for most of the varieties of ruit and vegetable products, there is still a mixed use of varieties and of cultivation techniques (fresh market and 4th range market).