Culling Tomatoes with External Symptoms of Irregular Ripening Is of Limited Benefit

in HortScience
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  • 1 Agricultural Research and Education Center, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Box 248, Fort Pierce, FL 34954

Mature-green and mature-red tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) fruit were harvested from spring- and fall-grown plants infested with sweet potato whitefly (SPWF; Bemisia tabaci Gennadins). The mature-green fruit were either ripened at 20 to 22C or cold-stored at 10 to 13C for 3 weeks and then were allowed to ripen at 20 to 22C. There was no significant difference in the appearance of either external or internal tomato irregular ripening (TIR) symptoms between the two storage–ripening regimes or in the appearance of internal TIR symptoms among the two storage regimes and vine-ripened tomatoes. Thus, removing the tomatoes from the SPWF during ripening does not reduce TIR symptoms. About half of the mature-green tomatoes, ripened with or without cold storage (10 to 13C), developed no external TIR symptoms, but about half of these tomatoes had internal TIR symptoms. About one-third of the tomatoes developed external symptoms during ripening, but these symptoms disappeared after ripening was complete. A high percentage (71%) of these tomatoes with external symptoms also had internal symptoms. The remaining tomatoes developed external TIR that did not disappear, and almost all of these tomatoes had internal symptoms. These data suggest that culling tomatoes that develop external TIR during ripening will reduce but not eliminate tomatoes with internal TIR from the fresh-fruit market.

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