Identification of 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) as a potent inhibitor of ethylene action (Sisler and Blankenship, 1996; Sisler and Serek, 1997) has provided the plant science research community with a valuable tool with which ethylene biology can be studied. Additionally, inhibition of ethylene action modulates the pattern of climacteric fruit ripening (Watkins, 2006). For apple, impacts of 1-MCP treatment are consistent with a number of commercial postharvest goals related to fruit quality maintenance and avoidance of physiological disorders. Commercialization of 1-MCP as SmartFresh by AgroFresh has provided another tool for postharvest management of apple fruit. This technology has been widely adopted in a relatively short period of time in the domestic apple industry and its use has resulted in a number of anticipated as well as unanticipated consequences on operations from production and harvest in the field through marketing of packed fruit. In an effort to characterize these results, the Washington state apple industry was used as a model to determine what industry practices have or have not been altered after the availability of this product. Conversations with growers, warehouse management and marketing personnel, and research and extension personnel were the basis for the following information.
In recent years, the total value of apples produced in Washington State has approached $1 billion (National Agricultural Statistics Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture [NASS, USDA], 2005). This industry focuses on marketing intact, high-quality whole fruit, although a large processing industry also exists in Washington State. Additionally, the volume of apples processed into ready-to-eat apple slices is increasing. Total apple production in Washington State in 2004 was ≈5.9 billion pounds (NASS, USDA, 2005). The logistics of handling and marketing a crop volume of this magnitude present many commercial challenges at and before harvest as well as during and after storage and packing. Although 1-MCP is currently applied only in the postharvest environment, indirect impacts of its use on preharvest practices and poststorage packing and marketing are evident.
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Fan, X. & Mattheis, J.P. 1999 Development of apple superficial scald, soft scald, core flush, and greasiness is reduced by MCP J. Agr. Food Chem. 47 3063 3068
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National Agricultural Statistics Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture 2005 Washington state agricultural statistics <http://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/Ag_Statistics/agr05/05_ch5.PDF>.
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