Physiological Changes of Broccoli during Early Postharvest Senescence and through the Preharvest-Postharvest Continuum

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 New Zealand Institute for Crop and Food Research, Levin, New Zealand
  • | 2 Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Division of Horticulture, Sydney, Australia

The postharvest senescence of broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. Italica group) was studied immediately after harvest until senescence was essentially completed at 20C. Changes in respiration, ethylene production, and color were determined for florets, branchlets, and heads of three cultivars of field-harvested `Green Beauty', `Dominator', and `Shogun' broccoli. Changes in respiration and ethylene production were also determined for 3 hours of preharvest and 24 hours of postharvest storage using broccoli grown in containers. Carbon dioxide produced from heads of container-grown broccoli and from heads, branchlets, and florets of field-harvested broccoli decreased markedly during the first 12 hours of postharvest storage before stabilizing. The respiratory quotient shifted toward a more oxidative metabolism in parallel with the respiratory decline. Ethylene production during storage showed no consistent relationship to yellowing. However, time until onset of yellowing was broadly related to the basal levels of ethylene production. The maximum storage life at 20C is ≈72 hours. Branchlets are useful model systems for investigating broccoli senescence.

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