Quantifying and Understanding Factors Affecting Tissue Nitrate Accumulation in Organic Celery

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2021: $16,497.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2024
Grant Recipient: University of Florida
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Dr. Xin Zhao
University of Florida


  • Vegetables: celery


  • Crop Production: nutrient management
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    The purpose of this project is to enhance our understanding of tissue nitrate accumulation in organic celery as affected by production related factors and provide up-to-date research-based information on manipulating organic celery nitrate concentration for celery powder production. Currently, the USDA National Organic Program places conventional celery powder on the National List for non-organically produced agricultural products allowed as ingredients in products labeled as organic. Organic celery powder has been suggested as an alternative curing agent for producing organic processed meat products. Although nitrate accumulation in organic vegetables is generally lower than their conventional counterparts, little information is available regarding nitrate variations in organically grown celery as affected by genotypic factors and production practices. In this project, different celery cultivars will be evaluated in organic production systems in Florida sandy soils to monitor tissue nitrate accumulation and nitrogen uptake throughout the growing season, taking into consideration the harvest time impact. The effects of sunn hemp cover crop, a commonly grown summer leguminous cover crop on soil nitrogen availability and nitrate accumulation in organic celery during the Fall growing season will also be assessed. In addition, different organic fertilization programs involving various sources of nutrients will be compared to determine their influence on nitrogen availability and uptake in organic celery production. This integrative project will not only help advance the long-term sustainability of the organic processed food industry by introducing a feasible alternative to conventionally produced celery powder, but will also contribute to the overall improvement of organic celery production systems.

    Project objectives from proposal:


    Objective 1: Assess several of the most widely available celery cultivars in terms of their yield performance and capacity to accumulate tissue nitrate throughout the growing season under organic production.

    Objective 2: Determine the effect of early morning and late afternoon harvests on the accumulation of tissue nitrate in organic celery.

    Objective 3: Assess different organic fertility management programs to quantify the effects of leguminous summer cover crop and organic fertilization on soil nitrogen availability, nitrogen uptake, and nitrate accumulation in organically grown celery.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.