HarvestWatch is a new chlorophyll fluorescence (F)-based technology that identifies the low-oxygen threshold for apple (Malus × domestica) fruit in dynamic low-O controlled atmosphere (DLOCA) storage environments [e.g., <1% oxygen (O2)]. Immediately following harvest, `Cortland', `Delicious', `Golden Delicious', `Honeycrisp', `Jonagold' and `McIntosh' fruit were cooled and loaded into 0.34 m3 (12.0 ft3) storage cabinets. A static controlled atmosphere (CA) regime of 1.5% O2, 1.5% carbon dioxide (CO2) and 3 °C (37.4 °F) [0 °C (32.0 °F) for `Delicious' and `Golden Delicious'] was established for the control fruit, while the low-O2 threshold was identified by a spike in the fluorescence parameter, Fα, as the O2 levels in the DLOCA cabinets were lowered below 1%. The DLOCA storages were then maintained at O2 levels of 0.1% to 0.2% above the threshold value for each cultivar, which returned Fα to prethreshold signatures. Quality measurements following 5 to 9 months of storage and a 7-day shelf life of 20 °C (68.0 °F), showed that the HarvestWatch fruit were generally firmer, had no incidence of superficial scald in `Cortland' and `Delicious' apples, and did not accumulate fermentative volatile compounds. The HarvestWatch system permits rapid, real-time measurements of the status of stored apple fruit in ultra low-O2 environments without the inconvenience of breaking the room's atmosphere. Our results indicate that HarvestWatch facilitates what may be the highest possible level of fruit quality retention in long-term, low-O2 apple storage without the use of scald-controlling or other chemicals before storage.
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