Fruits of peach (Prunus persica L., cv. `Fairtime') and plum (Prunus domestica L., cv. `Angeleno') were kept in air and in 0.25% or 0.02% O2 at 0, 5, or 10°C for 3 to 40 days to study the effects of temperatures and insecticidal low O2 atmospheres on their physiological responses and quality attributes. Exposure to low O2 atmospheres reduced respiration and ethylene production rates of the stone fruits. The low O2 treatments retarded color change and flesh softening of plums and maintained acidity of peaches. Exposure to the low O2 atmospheres also delayed incidence and reduced severity of internal breakdown (chilling injury) and decay of the peaches at 5°C and, therefore, maintained both external and internal appearance qualities of the fruits longer than those kept in air. The most important limiting factor for fruit tolerance to insecticidal low O2 atmospheres was development of alcoholic off-flavor which was associated with accumulation of ethanol and acetaldehyde in the fruits. The peaches and plums could tolerate exposures to the low O2 atmospheres for 9 to 40 days, depending on the temperature and O2 level used. These results suggest that stone fruits are quite tolerant to insecticidal low O2 atmospheres.
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