BACKGROUND: Given the contradictory information available concerning the potential beneficial effects of organic production on food quality, there is a need for studies that determine the real effect of cropping systems on fruit quality. A two-year farm study was therefore conducted to assess differences in the mineral composition and sensory quality of pepper (Capsicum annuum L. cv. Quito) fruits cultivated in organic (O), low-input (LI) and soilless (SL) systems. Twenty-four greenhouses were selected following strict criteria in order to reduce the influence of environmental conditions and accurately and realistically reflect commercial production systems.
RESULTS: The soil (O and LI) systems provided higher Ca and Mg concentrations than the SL system. In addition, fruit colour was favourably evaluated in green and red peppers from both soil systems. In contrast, SL fruits showed higher firmness in the green stage (related to higher flesh thickness). All fruit parameters that were affected by the cropping system were also affected by the harvesting time.
CONCLUSION: The main differences as regards the mineral composition and sensory attributes of the resulting fruit were observed between the soil (O and LI) and SL systems. The benefits of O peppers with respect to LI fruits could only be described as an absence of pesticide residues. Harvesting time can affect fruit composition and quality to a greater extent than cropping system. Copyright © 2009 Society of Chemical Industry