Herbs: Eliciting the phytochemical basis of flavour to recommend agronomic practice for improved and consistent characteristics


Summary:  Herb flavour is highly variable in composition and intensity according to differences in cultivar, agronomic practice, climate and growing season. This is at odds with end-consumer expectation of a consistently flavoured product. This project will identify the extent of flavour variation in three commercially important herbs (basil, coriander and a perennial herb) so that growers can tailor their cultivation practices to optimise herb flavour in their growing system, whether this is in a protected or an open field environment; thus this proposal is relevant to both outdoor and protected crops.
Current methods of addressing the problem do not exist within the industry. Tasting is on an ad hoc basis and not set against quantitative standards. It is not done in a way that results can be compared between seasons, sites or production methods at present.
New activity is planned to enable growers to evaluate their own crop more accurately and to understand the influences that season and production system have on flavour profile. It is NOT the intention of the project to rank different types of production system against each other, nor is it desirable to generate a flavour ‘standard’ against which all crops of that herb type are judged as we recognise the potential harm that this may do the industry collectively. The aim of the project is to enable growers and breeders to understand the influences of environment on herb flavour and how adjustments in agronomic practice can further shift those changes towards a flavour that is desirable and liked by consumers.

Additional information:

Learn more about optimising flavour in herbs
Project code:
FV/PE 455
01 March 2018 - 01 September 2022
AHDB Horticulture
AHDB sector cost:
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FV PE 455 GROWER SUMMARY FV PE 455_Year 1_Annual Report_2019_0 FV PE 455_Year 2_GS_Annual Report_2020 FV PE 455_Year 2_Annual Report_2020 FV PE 455_GS_Year 3_Annual Report_2021 FV PE 455_Year 3_Annual Report_2021

About this project

Aim: To elucidate the chemical profile of commercially important culinary herb crops and understand how varietal choice, season, agronomic practice, cultivation system and environment interact with this

1. Profile chemistry of three core herbs: coriander, basil, and a perennial herb species

2. Examine the impact of different seasons on flavour profile over three sequential years

3. Examine the impact of production system on flavour profile

4. Examine the impact of inputs on flavour profile

5. Associate flavour profiles with consumer liking