Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the International Spinach Conference and Southwest Agricultural Summit in Yuma, Arizona. While there, I learned a lot about the area’s production of spinach and discussed some of agricultural production’s biggest challenges. Yuma is in the top 0.1% of agricultural producers in the nation, with 1.43 million production acres of land in the Southwestern area, so it comes as no surprise that the area should host the Agricultural Summit and Spinach conference!
Over the course of three days, I listened to various discussions regarding spinach growth and distribution challenges. These discussions ranged in topics from seeding, nutrition, and genetic analysis of spinach species. However, the hot topic at the conference was focused on Downy Mildew, diseases, and pathogens related to spinach. An entire day was spent reviewing and discussing the history and future of prevention and detection methods for these spinach pathogens.
During this day of pathogen discussion, Steve Koike gave a review of E. coli and Salmonella experiments performed on field crops to answer some questions proposed by the industry. This study focused on these pathogens in a field’s soil and water, and measured their “die-off” over time after artificially contaminating a plot. This is a particular area of interest for growers, since contaminated spinach can result in a loss of 3-4 million spinach plants per acre.
Attending the Spinach conference was great, and it definitely provided a first-hand look at how important pathogen testing and prevention is for produce growers. I got an in depth look at the complete produce process, from visiting actual spinach fields to understanding the impact and procedures of recalls, investigations, and liability in the produce supply chain. It was great to gain a better understanding of how the food safety industry can help the produce industry.
For a more information on produce and pathogen detection, please download our presentation: Innovations in Produce Pathogen Testing.