Postharvest Application of Chelated and Nonchelated Calcium Dip Treatments to Commercially Grown Honey Dew Melons: Effects on Peel Attributes, Tissue Calcium Concentration, Quality, and Consumer Preference following Storage
Commercially grown honey dew fruit [Cucumis melo (Inodorus group)] typically are harvested before abscission because fruit cut unripe have a longer storage life than fully ripe fruit. However, because fully ripe fruit contain higher concentrations of soluble solids (predominantly as sugars), an attribute that increases their preference among consumers, methods are being explored to extend the storage life of fully ripe fruit. In this study, fully abscised honey dew fruit were evaluated for tissue attributes and consumer preference following postharvest dipping in either chelated or nonchelated calcium (Ca) solutions. Calcium sources were an amino acid-chelated Ca, ethylene-diamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA)-chelated Ca, or calcium chloride (CaCl2), with each provided at three different rates. Fruit were evaluated at harvest, and after 14 or 22 days commercial storage. Evaluations were peel surface changes (color and disorders), hypodermal-mesocarp tissue Ca concentration, flesh firmness, soluble solids concentration, and consumer preference of the edible flesh. Peel color became yellowed and lighter during storage for all fruit, with higher Ca rates resulting in more intensely yellowed fruit. Hypodermal-mesocarp tissue Ca concentration was 0.90 mg·g-1 of fresh weight (900 ppm) at harvest, and declined in all fruit by 22 days storage. Peel disorders (disease and spotting) were none to slight for all fruit by 14 days storage, but by 22 days storage disease incidence ranged from none to severe, depending on the Ca source and rate. Fruit firmness declined in all fruit throughout storage, with the smallest declines measured in fruit treated with the amino acid-chelated Ca. Soluble solids concentration of fully ripe fruit was 12.3% at harvest, and showed either no decline or slight declines with storage among the treatments. Consumer preference was highest for freshly harvested fruit, but fruit were desirable even after 22 days storage across all treatments. Postharvest application of Ca at ≤0.16 m Ca in an amino acid-chelated form, versus EDTA-chelated Ca or CaCl2, slowed honey dew melon senescence so that after 22 days of commercial and retail storage the fruit were of high marketable quality, and there was no detrimental effect on consumer preference for the edible flesh.