Eleni Pliakoni

Professor of Urban Food Production and Postharvest Handling

Dr. Elani Pliakoni is an Associate Professor of Urban Food Production and Postharvest Handling at Kansas State University's Olathe campus



Contact Info



Eleni D. Pliakoni, Ph.D., is an associate professor in urban food production and postharvest handling in the department of horticulture and natural resources at Kansas State University, and works at the K-State Olathe campus. Dr. Pliakoni has 60% teaching and 40% research appointment and joined K-State April 2013.

She is supporting and expanding the Urban Food Systems M.S. specialization in the Kansas City metro area by developing relationships with the urban food systems industries and by teaching and developing graduate courses related with the M.S. specialization and her area of expertise. The graduate courses she teaches include urban agriculture, urban agriculture study tour, urban food systems, and professional development in urban food systems, farm to fork produce safety and postharvest physiology and technology.

She has more than 15 years of experience working with postharvest handling of fresh fruits and vegetables in Florida, Greece, Spain and Texas.

Her research program is focused on postharvest technology for local and urban food systems. She is studying the effects of various storage methods on shelf life, flavor and nutritional quality of fresh produce. She also is involved in international work, leading the efforts of a USAID grant to build capacity in postharvest management of horticultural crops in Tanzania. The main goal is to reduce postharvest losses and increase availability of nutritious food

Starting in 2019, she has established the first analytical lab in Kansas for cannabinoids analysis, offering two levels of cannabinoid testing: the "Basic" panel and an "Expanded" cannabinoid panel.

In addition to the services, she is conducting research with industrial hemp looking on different postharvest handlings, such as packaging and drying, to maintain quality and extend shelf life.

Download Dr. Pliakoni's CV



  • Ph.D. in Agricultural Sciences, University of Thessaly
  • M.S. in Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Crete
  • B.S./M.S. in Agriculture from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki


Research Interests

Dr. Pliakoni and her lab are identifying preharvest factors that affect storage and postharvest handling techniques of fresh fruits and vegetables that could be applied by small-scale growers and in an urban environment.

They are working to improve growing practices in terms of food safety and quality. This includes improving the marketable quality of produce, increasing its shelf life and increasing nutritional aspects that benefit human health.

Some of her work is focused on determining the effect of two production systems (high tunnel vs. open-field) on the postharvest losses and nutritional quality of tomato and spinach.

Also, she is working on developing modified atmosphere packaging, or MAP, technology that could be used by local farmers in order to reduce food losses.

Additionally, she is examining the preharvest effects on postharvest quality of strawberries grown in high tunnels. She is also working on examining the impact of light on yield and nutritional quality of tomato and lettuce growing in high tunnels.

Also, she is interested in best storage and packaging conditions for sweet potato slips as well as transportation conditions of grafted vegetable seedlings.

Furthermore, she is working on improving shelf life, quality and safety of locally grown vegetables in Kansas.


Publications/Scholarly Work

Gude, K., H. Stanley, C.L. Rivard, B. Cunningham, Q. Kang, and E.D. Pliakoni. 2021.Quality of day-neutral strawberries grown in a high tunnel system. Scientia Horticulturae 275, 19726

Gude, K.M., C.B., Rajashekar, B., Cunningham, Q., Kang, W., Wang, M., Lee, C.L., Rivard and E.D. Pliakoni. 2020. Effect of High Tunnel Coverings on Antioxidants of Breaker and Light Red Tomatoes at Harvest and during Ripening. Agronomy 10, 1639

Batziakas, K.G., S. Singh, K. Ayub, Q. Kang, J. Brecht, C. L. Rivard, and E.D. Pliakoni. 2020. Reducing Post-harvest Losses of Spinach Stored in Non-Optimum Temperatures with the Implementation of Passive Modified Atmosphere Packaging. HortScience 55 (3): 326-335

Batziakas, K.G., C.L. Rivard, H. Stanley and E.D. Pliakoni. 2020. Reducing Pre-harvest Food Losses in Spinach with the Implementation of High Tunnels. Scientia Horticulturae 265:109268

Batziakas, K.G., H., Stanley, A.G., Batziakas, J.K Brecht, C. L. Rivard, and E.D. Pliakoni. 2020. Reducing postharvest food losses in organic spinach with the implementation of high tunnel production systems. Agron. Sustain. Dev. 40, 42

Stanley,H., K.G. Batziakas, S.E. Gragg, C.L. Rivard, E.D. Pliakoni. 2020. Impact of modified atmosphere packaging and ozonated water on the shelf life, quality, and safety of vegetables stored at non optimum temperatures. J. Postharvest Technol., 2020, 08 (3): 79-95

Batziakas, K.G., M. Swaney-Stueve, M. Talavera, C.L. Rivard, E.D. Pliakoni. 2019. Descriptive Analysis and Consumer Acceptability of Locally and Commercially-Grown Spinach. J.Food Sci. 84 (2): 2261-2268

Gude, K., C.L. Rivard, S.E. Gragg, K. Oxley, P. Xanthopoulos and E.D. Pliakoni. 2018. Day-neutral Strawberries for High Tunnel Production in the Central United States. HortTechnology 28(2):154-165


Teaching Schedule

HORT 725: Postharvest Handlings and Physiology of Horticultural Crops (Spring)

HORT 791: Urban Agriculture (Fall)

HORT 792 – Urban Food Production Practicum (Fall, Spring)

HORT 793/FDSCI 630: Farm to Fork Produce Safety (Fall)

HORT 794: Urban Food Systems (Spring)

HORT 795: Urban Agriculture Study Tour (Fall)

HORT 796: Professional Development in Urban Food Systems (Fall, Spring)



Current Ph.D./M.S. students

Past Ph.D./Master's students
  • Kelly Gude
  • Konstantinos Batziakas
  • Joseph Rundquist


Degree Program Affiliation


Professional Affiliations