The postharvest gaseous application of 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) has been shown to improve many physiological characteristics of apples, such as reduced ethylene production and respiration, enhanced fruit firmness and acidity retention, and reduced superficial scald development, peel greasiness, and various chilling-related disorders (Bai et al., 2005; DeEll et al., 2002; Fan and Mattheis, 2001; Fan et al., 1999b; Rupasinghe et al., 2000; Watkins and Nock, 2005). The efficacy of 1-MCP on apples is influenced by cultivar and storage conditions (Watkins et al., 2000), as well as treatment temperature and duration (DeEll et al., 2002). Since 1-MCP inhibits the action of ethylene and consequently retards fruit ripening, apples can be stored longer and transported farther, thus creating new markets. As a result of these beneficial effects, worldwide commercial utilization of 1-MCP (SmartFresh; AgroFresh, Springhouse, Pa.) is increasing quickly.
However, 1-MCP can also increase the susceptibility of apples to certain physiological disorders, such as external CO2 injury (DeEll et al., 2003; Zanella, 2003). Such negative responses to 1-MCP are often exacerbated by the presence of other anti-ethylene technologies or are negated by the use of antioxidants. For example, the preharvest application of aminoethoxyvinylglycine (ReTain; Valent BioSciences Corp., Libertyville, Ill.) further promotes external CO2 injury in apples treated with 1-MCP (DeEll et al., 2003), whereas a postharvest drench with the antioxidant diphenylamine reduces susceptibility to external CO2 injury (Watkins et al., 1997). The use of low O2 (0.7% to 1.5%) storage regimes, high levels of CO2 (>2%), low temperatures (<3 °C), or ethylene scrubbing can also aggravate the development of disorders by subjecting the apples to additional stress (DeEll et al., 2005b; Johnson and Colgan, 2003).
Most studies investigating the effects of 1-MCP on apples have been conducted as small-scale research trials within ideal conditions. Little work has been done to determine whether similar changes in apple quality and disorder incidence occur in a large-scale commercial setting. Furthermore, in most research studies fruit have not been held for more than 8 or 9 months. DeEll et al. (2006) evaluated the effects of commercial 1-MCP treatment on ‘Empire’ apples held in controlled atmosphere (CA) for up to 9 months, but they suggested that this was not long enough to observe the full benefits of 1-MCP.
The objective of this work was to investigate the effects of 1-MCP on ‘Empire’ and ‘Delicious’ apples in commercial CA storage for 12 months, as well as in commercial cold storage for 6 months.
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