Base-to-tip profiles of sucrose, glucose, fructose, and respiration rate were measured for asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L.) spears stored at 0C. Fructose content was ≈3-fold and 4-fold higher than glucose and sucrose, respectively. The highest level of fructose was found in the base and was ≈15-fold higher than the tip. The changes in asparagus metabolism were characterized by loss of sucrose and a high rate of respiration within the first hours after harvest. Sucrose was more rapidly lost than the other sugars during this period. The respiration rate was measured along the length of intact spears at 0.5, 1, 2, and 3 h after harvest. Subsequent measurements were taken after larger time intervals for 23 days. The respiration rate declined rapidly to ≈60% of the initial rate within 12 h, decreasing more slowly thereafter. Initially, the respiration rate of the tip was about four times that of the base, but, after 23 days, the respiration rate of the tip was only twice that of the base. Sucrose content and respiration rates were closely correlated.
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