Postharvest biology of Uapaca kirkiana, a native tree fruit to the miombo woodlands of some parts of Southern Africa, is little understood. Experiments have been carried out to determine the influence of pre-ripening storage treatments on subsequent fruit ripening characteristics. Mature but unripe fruit, collected from Dedza District in Malawi, were either held under ambient conditions, incubated in clay pots for 3 d or at 4 °C for 11 d. Fruit were removed from clay pots and cold storage, held under ambient conditions, and quality assessed daily. Color changed from green-yellow and/or brown-yellow in the unripe fruit to brown in ripe fruit. Low initial fruit compression was associated with hard and unripe fruit at harvest. Compared with both ambient and cold storage, incubating the fruits in clay pots resulted in advanced fruit softening as reflected by the high compression levels even on the day of removal from the clay pots. By day six after removal, compression had increased to a mean of 81 mm in the clay pot fruits while maximum levels were 56 and 38 mm for ambient and cold storage, respectively. Storing fruit at cold temperature delayed softening and deterioration compared with ambient and clay pot storage treatments. There was a general decrease in the total soluble solids content of the fruit during ripening, and was not influenced by the pre-ripening storage treatments. Decay increased during ripening for all the three treatments. Deterioration of the pulp in fruit, indicated by the development of a brown color and/or disintegration of the pulp, was observed with increasing time from removal. These results will be discussed in relation to the potential for improving storage of U. kirkiana.
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