Glossary

90–120-day rule

Acre

Agrichemicals

Agricultural water

Agritourism

Anhydrous Ammonia

Aquaculture

Aquaponics

Audit

Axil

Biodegradable mulches

Biosolids

Blast chilling

Buffer strip

Bushel

CAFO

Center Pivot

Chemigation

Cold chain

Compost

Compost Tea

Composting

Cover Crop

CSA, Community-Supported Agriculture

Cucurbitaceae

Cull/Cull Pile

Cultivar/Variety

Dip tank

Drift

Drip/trickle irrigation

Farm Food Safety Plan

Farmstead Cheese

Fecal coliforms

Fertigation

Fertigation

Fertilizer

Field heat

Field packing

Float/soak tank

Flood Irrigation

Food contact surfaces

Forced-air cooling

Furrow irrigation

Good agricultural practices (GAPs)

Good manufacturing practices (GMPs)

Gravity irrigation

Gray water

Green manure

Greenhouse

Ground cover

Ground water

Hesperidium

High tunnel/Hoop House

Hoop House

Hydrocooling

Hydroponics

Incorporation

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Interfertile

Irrigation

Lagoon

Live mulches

Manure

Manure aging

Manure tea

Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)

Mobile packing unit

Mulch

No-Tillage

Nonsynthetic fertilizer

NOP, National Organic Program

Operator

Organic matter

Organic production

Overhead sprinkler system

Packing facility

Packing shed/facility

Pasteurization

Permaculture

Pesticide

Plastic mulch

Plasticulture

Post-harvest

Postemergence

Pre-harvest

Precooling

Preemergence

Primary production

Processing water

Rainwater harvesting

Row Crop

Runoff

Shed pack

Sidedress

Slushed ice cooling

Soil amendment

Solanaceae Plant Family

Specialty Crop

Surface irrigation

Synthetic agrichemical/pesticide

Transgenic Crop

Urea

Vacuum cooling

Value-Added Products

Variety

Vine crop

90–120-day rule

A rule for use of manure on crops (to prevent contamination with pathogens).

Manure should be properly composted to reduce pathogens to safe levels. However, if raw, uncomposted manure is used, it should be incorporated into the soil a minimum of either 90 days or 120 days prior to harvest.

  • 90 days when edible parts of growing crops do not contact the soil (e.g. taller crops like corn)
  • 120 days when edible parts of growing crops touch the soil (e.g. crops like watermelon)

 

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Acre

An acre is about 9/10 the size of a football field, equivalent to 43,560 square feet.

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Agrichemicals

Any chemicals used in agricultural production, such as fertilizers,
pesticides, and feed supplements

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Agricultural water

Water used in agriculture for irrigation, cooling, or as a carrier for fertilizers and pesticides. Sources include rivers, streams, irrigation ditches, open canals, ponds, reservoirs, lakes, wells, and municipal supplies.

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Agritourism

Participation in farm- and agriculture-based activities for purposes of entertainment. Examples of activities may include picking fruit, feeding animals, participating in educational sessions about farming, or contributing to farm labor, such as planting crops or building greenhouses.1

  1. Biuso, E. Down on the Farm With Your Sleeves Rolled Up. travel.nytimes.com (2007).at http://col.st/1d3OWHN
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Anhydrous Ammonia

A fertilizer used to provide nitrogen for crop production. The product, stored under high pressure as a liquid, changes state during application and is injected into soil as a gas. It is popular due to the fact that it is composed of 82 percent nitrogen compared to other nitrogen fertilizers such as urea that contain only 46% nitrogen and ammonium nitrate with 30-33% nitrogen content.

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Aquaculture

The cultivation of aquatic animals and plants, including freshwater and marine species, for food or other purposes.

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Aquaponics

A system combining aquaculture with hydroponics in which aquatic animals and hydroponically-grown plants are cultivated together.

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Audit

Verification performed by an outside entity that an operation/farm is following appropriate food safety practices. USDA incorporated the Produce GAPs Harmonized Food Safety Standard into its GAP and GHP audit program in 2011, the Initiative is an effort to harmonize GAP standards for domestically grown and imported produce.

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Axil

The top side of a joint on a plant where the trunk and branch or branch and leaf steam meet.

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Biodegradable mulches

Compared to plastic mulches which degrade slowly, mulches made from plant starches, such as corn or wheat, can be broken down by soil microbes into CO2 and water.

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Biosolids

The organic solids product of wastewater/sewage treatment plants which can be utilized in agricultural production. The regulation of these by-products of human waste treatment as fertilizer or soil amendments vary among states.1

  1. Guide to minimize microbial food safety hazards for fresh fruits and vegetables [Internet]. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN); 1998 Oct. Available from: http://col.st/17crvMH
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Blast chilling

A method of cooling produce quickly to a low temperature, may be used in cantaloupe production to remove field heat

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Buffer strip

Also referred to as a filter strip. A strip of permanent vegetation of sufficient width and vegetative density adjacent to or near a susceptible target area to provide protection from microbial contamination through water. The vegetation retards the flow of runoff water, causing the flowing water to deposit silt.

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Bushel

A unit of dry volume typically used to quantify crop yields. One bushel is equivalent to 32 quarts or 2,150.42 cubic inches.

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CAFO

Confined Animal Feeding Operations. Animals (other than aquatic animals) have been, are or will be stabled or confined and fed or maintained for a total of 45 days or more in any 12-month period, and crops, vegetation, forage growth or postharvest residues are not sustained in the normal growing season over any portion of the lot or facility.

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Center Pivot

A type of irrigation system that consists of a wheel-driven frame that supports a series of sprinkler nozzles. The frame rotates about a central point to distribute water over a large circular area.

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Chemigation

The application of chemicals through irrigation systems. Chemicals applied in this method include pesticides and fertilizers (sometimes called fertigation)

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Cold chain

The maintenance of proper cooling temperatures throughout the food system (farm to fork) for fruits and vegetables to ensure product safety and quality.

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Compost

Organic matter, such as animal waste and plant residues, which has been actively decomposed in a closely managed process involving aeration and mechanical mixing achieving appropriate time and temperature points. Compost is the product of a managed process (treatment, turning, etc) through which microorganisms break down plant and animal materials into more available forms suitable for application to the soil as a fertilizer. According to EPA, compost must be produced through a process which combines plant and animal materials with an initial Carbon:Nitrogen ratio of between 25:1 and 40:1. Producers using an in-vessel or static aerated pile system must maintain the composting materials at a temperature between 131°F and 170° F for 3 days. Producers using a windrow system must maintain the composting materials at a temperature between 131°F and 170° F for 15 days, during which time the materials must be turned a minimum of five times.

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Compost Tea

Liquid preparation made using compost as a starting material, used as a foliar application to combat plant pathogens or supplement plant nutrients.

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Composting

The biodecomposition of organic material, such as animal wastes, plant residues or sludges, in the presence of air, by controlled methods including mechanical mixing and aerating.

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Cover Crop

Crop planted in rotation with other crops, usually to increase soil fertility. These types of cover crops are referred to as “green manure.” May also be planted to for water conservation, weed or pest control, protect against plant diseases, add to biodiversity, or wildlife conservation or crop protection.

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CSA, Community-Supported Agriculture

an agricultural marketing model which involves individuals pre-purchasing shares of farm produce prior to harvest with the goal of farmers and CSA participants sharing the risk and benefits of food production. CSA shares generally include vegetables but may include fruit, eggs, flowers, dairy products, meat, herbs, or honey.

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Cucurbitaceae

A plant family with over 700 species, including cucumbers, pumpkins, melons such as cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon, and various squashes and gourds.

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Cull/Cull Pile

to remove inferior products from the food stream that show signs of physical damage or defect. Cull piles can become harboring sites for insects and rodents and should be positioned to minimize this situtation.

 

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Cultivar/Variety

A portmanteau of the words “cultivated” and “variety,” a cultivar is a plant variety created or selected intentionally and maintained through cultivation, typically for its desirable characteristics. The term cultivar is not the same as “variety” although the two terms are often used interchangeably. Culivars have very similar genetic material (same genus and species) selected for desirable characteristics that can be maintained by propagation.

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Dip tank

Equipment used for complete immersion of harvested produce, possibly to apply a treatment/sanitizer or to reduce temperature

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Drift

The physical movement of prohibited substances from the intended target site onto an organic operation or portion thereof.

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Drip/trickle irrigation

Watering plants so that only soil in the plant’s immediate vicinity is moistened. Water is supplied to the plant’s roots from a network of thin plastic tubes at a low flow rate and in precise amounts. Drip lines are typically buried in the center of a soil bed.

It is the most efficient use of water for irrigation and also reduces the chance of pathogens because the entire plant is not wetted, thereby denying moisture to the microorganisms.

To facilitate the use of drip irrigation, growers typically use ground water pumped from shallow alluvial wells as the source of irrigation water. Unlike surface waters, ground water is relatively free of particulates and is available on a more timely and reliable basis.

Although there are significant upfront costs to convert to drip irrigation, its use results in considerable savings long term due to reduced water use and waste, decreased requirements for fertilizer, pesticides, labor, and machinery compared with conventional methods.

Drip irrigation systems may be renovated each season or less often, depending on the grower’s management scheme and crop rotation.

Drip irrigation is often used in conjunction with plasticulture.

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Farm Food Safety Plan

a written plan outlining food safety strategies for a particular operation, often required in food safety audits.

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Farmstead Cheese

Cheese made on the farm with milk from the farm’s own herd or flock.

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Fecal coliforms

Those microorganisms that are detected by the coliform test and that can ferment lactose to acid and gas within 48 hours at 44.5 degrees to 45.5 degees C.

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Fertigation

The application of water soluble fertilizers through an irrigation system.

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Fertigation

The application of fertilizers, soil amendments, or other water-soluble products through an irrigation system. A common example would be using a drip irrigation system to supply both water and soluble fertilizers in precise amounts and at intervals specific to a particular crop, a region’s soil type, and conditions.

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Fertilizer

A single or blended substance containing one or more recognized plant nutrient which is used primarily for its plant nutrient content and which is designed for use or claimed to have value in promoting plant growth.

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Field heat

Heat accumulated by some types of produce, such as tomatoes and cantaloupe, if harvested on warm days

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Field packing

Packing produce directly from the field into market containers for commercial distribution and sale.

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Float/soak tank

Tanks filled with water and cleansing agents to clean produce.

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Food contact surfaces

Surfaces which come in contact with food products during the normal course of operations.1 Examples include tables or counters used for sorting and display or equipment, such as containers and conveyor belts, that contact fresh produce when used in harvesting, post harvesting, and packing operations.1

  1. Guide to minimize microbial food safety hazards for fresh fruits and vegetables [Internet]. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN); 1998 Oct. Available from: http://col.st/17crvMH
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Forced-air cooling

A fan powered cooling system which exposes packages of produce in a cooling room to higher air pressure on one side than on the other forcing the cool air through the packages and past the produce for heat transfer from the produce.

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Furrow irrigation

Also known as flood or surface irrigation, this is one of the oldest and most used irrigation methods. Farmers create small parallel channels (trenches or furrows) in a crop field between ridges where the crops are grown. Then, the field is partly flooded with water. Some parts of the plant may not be in contact with water. Learn more about furrow irrigation.

Top view and cross-section of furrows and ridges, originally from FAO corporate document repository.
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Good agricultural practices (GAPs)

The basic environmental and operational conditions necessary for the production of safe, wholesome fruits and vegetables.

The United States Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration provide GAPS as guidelines to ensure safety at the farm level. These include risk controls, and/or management suggestions for irrigation, disposal of manure and biosolids, worker health and hygiene, field and harvest sanitation, postharvest water use, and packaging, transportation, storage, and distribution.

Because it is much more difficult to take corrective actions after contamination has occurred, the best way for producers to reduce food safety risk is to take adequate steps to prevent contamination—anticipating all possible sources of risk at all points along the farm-to-table food chain. They can do this by creating and following a step-by-step food safety plan that addresses GAPs and by maintaining good records.

 

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Good manufacturing practices (GMPs)

General practices to reduce microbial food safety hazards used in sorting, packing, storage and transportation operations.

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Gravity irrigation

Water that moves through soils under the influence of gravity. It is distinguished from a pumped supply of water.

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Gray water

Wastewater, collected separately from a sewage flow that originates from a clothes washer, bathtub, shower or sink, but it does not include wastewater from a kitchen sink, dishwasher or toilet.

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Greenhouse

A protective structure for growing plants generally capable of temperature regulation, compared to a hoop house or high tunnel without temperature regulation input.

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Ground water

Water below the land surface in the saturated zone.

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Hesperidium

Classified as a berries, the fruit of citrus plants have an interior flesh consisting of fluid-filled hairs and can be sectioned, along with a protective exterior rind.

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High tunnel/Hoop House

lower cost version of a greenhouse, a freestanding covered structure without heating or electrical power, using passive ventilation, used to extend the growing season and provide protection.

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Hydrocooling

A cooling process accomplished by flooding the produce with large volumes of chilled water, normally in a hydro-cooler designed specifically for that purpose.

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Hydroponics

growing plants in a soil-less media

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Incorporation

To unite or combine to form a single whole such as fertilizer tilled or injected into the soil.

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Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

An integrated approach to controlling plant pests using careful monitoring of pests and weeds. It may include use of natural predators, chemical agents and crop rotations.

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Interfertile

plant species able to interbreed.

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Irrigation

the addition of water required for the growth of crops. Risk of microbial contamination varies with types of irrigation based on level of crop contact with water. Overhead irrigation is associated with the highest risk, followed by furrow irrigation, then drip irrigation. Also see Fertigation.

 

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Lagoon

A shallow artificial pond often used for the processing of sewage or manure.

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Live mulches

Typically, plants that grow close to the ground and are sown or planted as an understory to the main crop. Live mulches protect the soil from erosion and minimally compete with the growth of the main crop.

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Manure

Feces, urine, other excrement and bedding produced by livestock that has not been composted.

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Manure aging

Storage and management of manure, often reaching heat pasteurization temperatures, similar to composting but in a less controlled manner.

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Manure tea

Liquid preparation made using manure as a starting material, used as a foliar application to combat plant pathogens or supplement plant nutrients.

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Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)

Product safety information sheets prepared by manufacturers and marketers. An MSDS lists the ingredients in a hazardous product, its manufacturer, its hazards to safety and health and precautions to follow when using it. These sheets can be obtained by requesting them from the manufacturer. Some stores, such as hardware stores, may have material safety data sheets for products they sell.

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Mobile packing unit

A piece of equipment that moves slowly through the field allowing workers to harvest and pack produce as it progresses.

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Mulch

Any nonsynthetic material, such as wood chips, leaves or straw, or any synthetic material included on the National List for such use, such as newspaper or plastic that serves to suppress weed growth, moderate soil temperature or conserve soil moisture.

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No-Tillage

Crop production system in which the soil is left undisturbed from harvest to planting. At the time of planting, a narrow strip up to 1/3 as wide as the space between planted rows (strips may involve only residue disturbance or may include soil disturbance) is engaged by a specially equipped planter. Planting or drilling is accomplished using disc openers, coulter(s), row cleaners, in-row chisels, or roto-tillers. Weed control is accomplished primarily with crop protection products. Other common terms used to describe No-till include direct seeding, slot planting, zero-till, row-till, and slot-till.

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Nonsynthetic fertilizer

any agricultural input which contains or is derived from living organism such as animal manure or plant material.

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NOP, National Organic Program

USDA program developed to administer and enforce the regulation of organic food (crops and livestock but not fiber products) in the U.S. The NOP Final Rule was first published in 2000.

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Operator

The person or persons who have day-to-day responsibility for the production, harvesting, washing, sorting, cooling, packaging, shipping or transportation of fresh fruits and vegetables, and responsibility for management of all employees who are involved in each of these activities.

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Organic matter

The remains, residues or waste products of any organism.

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Organic production

A production system that is managed in accordance with the National Organic Program and regulations to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity.

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Overhead sprinkler system

Overhead application of water to a crop by any of a wide range of systems, such as center pivot. The entire plant is wetted.

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Packing facility

In many instances fresh produce is harvested in one location and transported to a central facility for cleaning and packing into market containers. The size of the packing facility can range from a small on-farm shed to a large commercial plant.

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Packing shed/facility

where fresh produce is placed in boxes or bins, often located in or near the production fields. These may be temporary structures or large commercial facilities.

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Pasteurization

From The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) 

Pasteurization is a process, named after scientist Louis Pasteur, that applies heat to destroy pathogens in foods. For the dairy industry, the terms “pasteurization,” “pasteurized” and similar terms mean the process of heating every particle of milk or milk product, in properly designed and operated equipment, to one of the temperatures given in the following chart and held continuously at or above that temperature for at least the corresponding specified time:


Temperature Time Pasteurization Type
63ºC (145ºF)* 30 minutes Vat Pasteurization
72ºC (161ºF)* 15 seconds High temperature short time Pasteurization (HTST)
89ºC (191ºF) 1.0 second Higher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
90ºC (194ºF) 0.5 seconds Higher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
94ºC (201ºF) 0.1 seconds Higher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
96ºC (204ºF) 0.05seconds Higher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
100ºC (212ºF) 0.01seconds Higher-Heat Shorter Time (HHST)
138ºC (280ºF) 2.0 seconds Ultra Pasteurization (UP)

*If the fat content of the milk product is 10percent or more, or if it contains added sweeteners, or if it is concentrated (condensed), the specified temperature shall be increased by 3ºC (5ºF). Eggnog shall be heated to at least the following temperature and time specifications:


Temperature Time Pasteurization Type
69ºC (155ºF) 30 minutes Vat Pasteurization
80ºC (175ºF) 25 seconds High temperature short time Pasteurization (HTST)
83ºC (180ºF) 15 seconds High temperature short time Pasteurization (HTST)

The original method of pasteurization was vat pasteurization, which heats milk or other liquid ingredients in a large tank for at least 30 minutes. It is now used primarily in the dairy industry for preparing milk for making starter cultures in the processing of cheese, yogurt, buttermilk and for pasteurizing some ice cream mixes.

The most common method of pasteurization in the United States today is High Temperature Short Time (HTST) pasteurization, which uses metal plates and hot water to raise milk temperatures to at least 161° F for not less than 15 seconds, followed by rapid cooling. Higher Heat Shorter Time (HHST) is a process similar to HTST pasteurization, but it uses slightly different equipment and higher temperatures for a shorter time. For a product to be considered Ultra Pasteurized (UP), it must be heated to not less than 280° for two seconds. UP pasteurization results in a product with longer shelf life but still requiring refrigeration.

Another method, aseptic processing, which is also known as Ultra High Temperature (UHT), involves heating the milk using commercially sterile equipment and filling it under aseptic conditions into hermetically sealed packaging. The product is termed “shelf stable” and does not need refrigeration until opened. All aseptic operations are required to file their processes with the Food and Drug Administration’s “Process Authority.” There is no set time or temperature for aseptic processing; the Process Authority establishes and validates the proper time and temperature based on the equipment used and the products being processed.


Reference

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Permaculture

the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient.

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Pesticide

A general name for agricultural chemicals which include:

  • Herbicide – for the control of weeds and other plants
  • Insecticide – for the control of insects
  • Fungicide – for the control of fungi
  • Nematocide – for the control of parasitic worms
  • Rodenticide – for the control of rodents
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Plastic mulch

sheets of plastic used in a manner similar to mulch to suppress weeds and prevent loss of water from the soil. Slits or holes may be made in plastic mulch for the plants to grow.

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Plasticulture

Plasticulture is use of a lightweight plastic film or mulch to cover a seedbed, typically in combination with drip irrigation. This helps to control moisture, weeds, and soil temperature (warms the soil).

Crops grown using plasticulture have earlier spring growth, which means they go to market earlier than with conventional production. Additionally, growers have observed increased yields (in some cases double) and improved quality.

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Post-harvest

all activity after a crop, or livestock, is harvested, including cooling, cleaning, sorting, packing, distributing, and storing

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Postemergence

Refers to the timing of pest control operations. Postemergence operations are accomplished during the period subsequent to the emergence of a crop from the soil and must be completed prior to point at which crop growth stage prohibits in-field travel (unless alternative application means – aerial or irrigation-based – are used).

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Pre-harvest

all activity on a farm or ranch  prior to a crop or livestock being harvested, including field or pasture preparation treatments, water inputs, soil applications/amendments, planting, irrigation, and pest control.

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Precooling

The term precooling refers to the removal of heat energy from crops, known as field heat, after they are harvested. Precooling is ideally done immediately after harvest, as many crops begin to degrade rapidly after harvest if heat is not removed.  Precooling helps reduce the respiration rate of harvested crops, slows down moisture loss, can inhibit microbial growth, and can slow the ripening process.

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Preemergence

Refers to the timing of pest control operations. Preemergence operations are accomplished during the period subsequent to the planting of a crop and prior to the emergence of that crop from the soil.

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Primary production

Steps involved in the growing and harvesting of fresh fruits and vegetables such as planting, irrigation, application of fertilizers and application of agricultural chemicals.

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Processing water

Water used for post-harvest treatment of produce, such as washing, cooling or waxing.

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Rainwater harvesting

accumulating and storing rainwater, may include runoff from roofs and contain contaminants.

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Row Crop

Agricultural crop planted, often with mechanical planting devices, in individual rows which may be spaced to permit machine traffic

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Runoff

Rainwater, leachate or other liquid that drains overland on any part of a land surface and runs off of the land surface.

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Sidedress

To apply fertilizer to a standing crop, usually by surface application of liquid fertilizer products or subsurface application of liquid or gaseous fertilizers placed near crop rows.

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Slushed ice cooling

The packing of produce where alternate layers of ice and the commodity are placed in a shipping box or crate. A preferred cooling method for many types of extremely perishable produce items that not only removes heat rapidly when first applied to produce but continues to absorb heat as it melts.

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Soil amendment

Soil conditioners (materials that make the soil more suitable for the growth of plants with a carbon/nitrogen ratio greater than 30) or fertilizers (materials that supply essential elements to improve productivity of plants with a carbon/nitrogen ratio of less than 20). These materials may be made of lime, gypsum, sulphur, compost, woodwaste, peat, manure, fertilizers or nonagricultural waste.

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Solanaceae Plant Family

Also known as the nightshade family, includes many economically important food crops such as potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers as well as tobacco and ornamental plants (petunia).

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Specialty Crop

designation which encompasses certain vegetable, fruit, turf, herb, ornamental, fiber, and nursery crops. These crops tend to be management intensive but provide alternatives to traditional agricultural crops and have a higher economic return.

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Synthetic agrichemical/pesticide

A substance that is formulated or manufactured by a chemical process or by a process that chemically changes a substance extracted from naturally occurring plant, animal or mineral sources, except that such term shall not apply to substances created by naturally occurring biological processes.

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Transgenic Crop

Contains a gene or genes which have been artificially inserted instead of the plant acquiring the gene(s) through pollination. The inserted gene(s) may come from an unrelated plant or from a completely different species.

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Urea

A form of nitrogen that converts readily to ammonium.

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Vacuum cooling

A cooling system where the product is put into a vacuum chamber and the atmospheric pressure is lowered. As water evaporates, the heat of vaporization quickly removes heat from the product. Commonly used for leafy vegetables, such as lettuce.

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Value-Added Products

A general term which refers to agricultural products that have increased in value due to processing. Examples include corn oil, soybean meal, or fresh cut fruit.

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Variety

A taxonomic rank in botany, a variety is a plant with a distinct appearance from others in the same species, but can be hybridized with other varieties in that species. Some plant varieties occur naturally, for example, in different geographic areas, while others exist as the result of breeding and selection.

Although the term “variety” is often used interchangeably with the term “cultivar,” the latter term implies the plant has been selected through intentional human activity.

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Vine crop

cucumbers, melons, squash, pumpkins

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