(183) Quality and Shelf Life of Greenhouse Tomatoes Exposed to 1-Methylcyclopropene

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  • 1 1University of Guelph, Plant Agriculture, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1, Canada
  • | 2 2Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs, Crop Technology 2, Simcoe, Ontario, N3Y 4N5, Canada
  • | 3 3University of Guelph, Department of Food Science

The objectives of this research were to determine if 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) improves fruit quality and extends shelf life of Ontario greenhouse tomatoes. `Beefsteak' tomatoes between breaker and turning maturity stages were harvested from commercial growers in Leamington, Ontario, and randomly sorted into uniform lots for 1-MCP treatment. Application of 1-MCP concentrations from 0 to 1200 nL/L was done at 22 °C for 12 hours in sealed bags. After treatment, fruit were held at 22 °C. Color change, fruit firmness, and production rates of CO2 and ethylene were followed for a period of 2 weeks. Significant differences (P ≤ 0.05) were found in color, ethylene, and CO2 production rates between treatments. However, there were few significant differences among cultivars and growers. This suggests that different tomato cultivars respond similarly to 1-MCP, and that commercial growing conditions and practices may not affect its efficacy. Over the 2-week ripening period, fruit from treatments of less than 300 nL/L 1-MCP exhibited similar color changes while treatments of more than 600 nL/L resulted in blotchy ripening, causing fruit to be unmarketable. 1-MCP treatment led to an increase in the rates of ethylene and CO2 production, two processes correlated with the onset of fruit ripening. This increase was unexpected and other studies showed that 1-MCP delayed the onset of these processes in tomatoes, and inhibited them in other fruits. Tomatoes treated at a maturity between breaker and turning did not respond well to 1-MCP, perhaps due to the ripening process having already begun. This implies that maturity stages earlier than breaker to turning may respond better to 1-MCP, and it may be more beneficial to target greenhouse tomatoes at an earlier maturity.

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