Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Plant and Environmental Science

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dilrukshi Thavarajah

Committee Member

Pushparajah Thavarajah

Committee Member

William C. Bridges

Committee Member

Robert Polomski

Committee Member

Emerson Shipe


Kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala) is a nutritionally rich leafy green that that contains vitamins, minerals, and prebiotic carbohydrates. As a popular organic crop, kale accounted for 1.3% of total US organic produce sales in 2020, a market valued at over 17 billion USD. However, organic production is limited by its inability to use synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and suffers from decreased yield when compared to conventional agriculture, partially due to the creation of a significantly different growing environment. Additionally, the absence of synthetic products can also negatively impact the shelf of leafy greens like kale. To determine the organic adaptation of kale, I evaluated 13 kale cultivars and 22 kale relatives (Brassica oleracea) in terms of biomass, mineral concentrations, and carbohydrate concentrations under organic growing conditions. From this data, I identified potential seasonal variation in mineral and prebiotic carbohydrate concentrations in organically grown kale. In order to assess shelf life, I grew 9 kale cultivars in two different growing environments and assessed shelf life in nitrogen-enriched and non-enriched packaging through water content, water activity, color, texture, and visual score. Genotype was largely impacted shelf life, while growing environment was insignificant, except for decreased water activity in garden-grown kale. Shelf-life was largely unaffected by nitrogen-enriched packaging. This work contributes to our understanding of seasonal mineral and carbohydrate variation in kale, as well as identifying the underlying factors responsible for variable shelf performance in nitrogen-enriched and non-enriched storage of kale.



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