Artificial Intelligence: Israeli Research Institute MIGAL Applies AI To Quadruple Cucumbers’ Postharvest Life

“Smart,” algorithmically-guided sequencing and combinations of produce treatments can dramatically extend postharvest life.

The MIGAL Galilee Research Institute (MIGAL), a regional mega-R&D center supported by Israel’s Ministry of Science and Technology, has extended the postharvest life of cucumbers from two to nine weeks. The cucumber is a sensitive fruit with a high wastage rate due to its average postharvest storage lifespan of less than two weeks. (CISION PR Newswire)

MIGAL Galilee Research Institute (MIGAL)

The MIGAL team’s algorithms used an AI system to investigate the combinatorial search-space of postharvest cucumber treatment models, learning the fruit’s response to variations in timings, ordering, and activation levels of certain operations.

At the end of the process, a single multi-stage treatment protocol was selected for testing in MIGAL’s fields and laboratories.

The process was this: Immediately after harvest, the fresh cucumbers were transported to the laboratory, weighed, treated using the protocol suggested by the AI system, and stored for four weeks in accordance with the AI protocol. At the end of this period, it was determined that the fruit’s weight, color, crispness, and other qualities had undergone minimal change, and the cucumbers were stored again for an additional 5 weeks. Final evaluation demonstrated a continued marketable level of quality (see photos above).

Study: Algorithmically-guided postharvest protocols by experimental combinatorial optimization

 Prof. Ofer Shir, an Associate Professor of Computer Science at MIGAL and Tel-Hai College, who led the study, said:

“In launching this project, we hypothesized that a ‘smart’, algorithmically-guided combination and sequencing of existing produce treatments could multiply their preservation effect, significantly extending fruit and vegetable shelf-life after harvest. However, the results we achieved were much better than we had expected: our protocols more than quadrupled the shelf-life of cucumbers, keeping them fresh for a full nine weeks.”

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