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Nancy W. Callan, James B. Miller, Don E. Mathre, and S. Krishna Mohan

Sweet corn (Zea mays L.) seed is commonly infected or infested with fungi that can impair stand establishment. Among these, Penicillium oxalicum Currie and Thorn is known to cause preemergence damping-off or postemergence seedling blight. Supersweet, or shrunken2 (sh2), sweet corn cultivars are particularly affected by seedborne fungal pathogens, although the effects of seed infection on seedling emergence and stand are variable under field conditions. This study was conducted to examine factors that could influence the impact of P. oxalicum on seedling stand, including P. oxalicum inoculum density on seed and in soil, soil moisture, soil temperature, and control of seed decay caused by soilborne Pythium ultimum Trow. Seed surface disinfestation usually had no effect on seedling stand under conditions favoring infection by P. ultimum. Inoculation of sh2 sweet corn seeds or infestation of soil with conidia of P. oxalicum resulted in increasing severity of damping-off and seedling blight as inoculum density increased. In pasteurized soil in the greenhouse, an inoculum density of 102 P. oxalicum conidia per seed reduced emergence and induced seedling blight. In the field, where P. ultimum was also a factor, 106 conidia per seed were needed to reduce emergence and 105 conidia per seed to reduce healthy seedling stand. When pythium seed decay was controlled by metalaxyl seed treatment, seedling emergence and healthy seedling stand were both reduced at 1 × 106 P. oxalicum conidia per seed. When sh2 sweet corn seed was inoculated with conidia of P. oxalicum and incubated in soil at subgermination moisture contents (4.2 to -7.8 MPa) for 2-4 weeks before planting and irrigating, P. oxalicum reduced seedling emergence at all soil moisture levels, but caused the greatest amount of injury after planting when seeds were incubated in soil above -5.1 MPa. As soil temperature increased from 9-25C, seedling emergence from seed inoculated with P. oxalicum was progressively reduced, with a decrease of nearly 50% at 25 C. Penicillium oxalicum has the greatest potential to reduce seedling stand when infected sweet corn seeds are planted in warm, dry soil, but the effects of this and other seedborne fungal pathogens may be masked under conditions favoring infection by P. ultimum.

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Julien Mercier, Mebarek Baka, Baskhara Reddy, Ronan Corcuff, and Joseph Arul

Shortwave ultraviolet radiation (UV-C) was tested for controlling natural infections and inducing resistance to fungal decay caused by Botrytis cinerea Pers.: Fr. (gray mold rot) in bell pepper [Capsicum annuum L. var. annuum (Grossum Group)] fruit. All UV-C doses tested (0.22, 0.44, 0.88, or 2.20 kJ·m-2) caused a reduction in the number of natural infections occurring during storage at 13 °C. A UV-C dose of 0.88 kJ·m-2 controlled most effectively natural infections in peppers stored at both 13 or 20 °C. Although UV-C was found to be highly germicidal to B. cinerea conidia exposed on agar or on fruit wounds, it did not prevent infection of fruit inoculated with the pathogen 24 hours before exposure to UV-C. However, fruit which were exposed to UV-C 24 hours before inoculation with B. cinerea had a lower percentage of infections. For this reason, UV-C appears to act mainly as an inducer of disease resistance in this crop rather than a sanitizing agent. UV-C was effective in inducing resistance to B. cinerea in fruit at various stages of maturity, from green to red. Disease resistance was also induced in fruit which had been stored for 7 days before UV-C treatment. The effect of UV-C doses was found to be additive as two successive exposures at 0.44 kJ·m-2 had an equivalent effect as one exposure to the optimal dose of 0.88 kJ·m-2. However, two successive exposures to 0.88 kJ·m-2 were less effective than one exposure to this dose.

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Hassan A. Al-Kahtani

Eleven pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) cultivars were first evaluated, dried for 9 days at 20C and 47% relative humidity (RH), 30C and 33% RH, and 40C and 25% RH before storage at 20 ± 2C and 47% RH. `Taifi-A' was given the highest scores for sensory evaluation. `Kab El-Jameel' contained significantly more edible portion and more juice, and had lower pH and higher acidity than any other cultivar. The highest vitamin C content was found in `Taifi-A', `Red Balady', and `Mellasi'. Drying at 40C and 25% RH seriously damaged the pomegranates. `De-Jativa, `Molar', `Succary', and `Taifi-R' softened on the 4th day of drying and were more sensitive to drying conditions than the others. Drying at 30C and 33% RH and at 20C and 47% RH did not appear to have visually deleterious effects on the internal portion of the fruit, but the edible portion was slightly inferior to that of fresh (refrigerated) fruits, particularly those dried at 30C and 33% RH. The juices of most dried fruits had higher pH, acidity, and total soluble solids content, but less vitamin C than fresh fruits. Fruits dried at 30C and 33% RH or 20C and 47% RH remained acceptable at 20 ± 2C and 47% RH for up to 3 months or more, depending on the cultivar. Fungal decay (Aspergillus niger. Tiesh. and some Penicillum spp. were found) appeared only in fruits previously dried at 20C and 47% RH. Partial drying of pomegranates maybe useful for processed juice products.

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Robert A. Saftner, William S. Conway, and Carl E. Sams

Three polyamine biosynthesis inhibitors, α-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), α-difluoromethylarginine (DFMA), and α-methylornithine (MeOrn), alone and in combination with CaCl2, were tested for their ability to reduce in vitro growth and soft rot development in apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) fruit caused by Botrytis cinerea Pers.:Fr. and Penicillium expansum Link. All three inhibitors reduced the in vitro growth of the pathogens. Calcium had no effect on fungal growth in vitro. Pressure infiltration of millimolar concentrations of DFMO or DFMA or 25 g·L-1 CaCl2 solutions into apples reduced subsequent soft rot development by B. cinerea and P. expansum >40%. A combination treatment of Ca and DFMO or DFMA reduced decay >67%. Treatment of apples with MeOrn was less effective at inhibiting decay development. None of the inhibitors affected polyamine levels in apple cortical tissues. Some injury to the fruit surface was observed with Ca treatments. Fruit treated with Ca and any of the inhibitors were less firm than those treated with Ca alone. Specific polyamine biosynthesis inhibitors in combination with Ca may prove useful in reducing postharvest decay in apples.

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Morris Ingle, Mervyn C. D'Souza, and E.C. Townsend

Firmness, soluble solids concentration (SSC), starch index (SI), internal ethylene concentration (IE), and titratable acid concentration (TA) of `York Imperial' apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) fruit changed linearly with harvest date between 152 and 173 days after full bloom (DAFB). Firmness was positively correlated with TA, SSC was correlated with SI, and SI was negatively correlated with TA. After 150 days of refrigerated-air (RA) storage, there was no relationship between DAFB at harvest and firmness or superficial scald, but the malic acid concentration declined linearly and storage decay increased linearly with DAFB. Firmness had declined to a plateau and was not correlated with any variable at harvest. Malic acid concentration after CA storage was correlated with DAFB, firmness, SSC, and SI; scald was correlated with firmness and SI; and decay was correlated with DAFB, firmness, SSC, and SI. During 150 days of controlled-atmosphere (CA) storage (2.5% O2, 1.0% CO2), firmness and TA decreased as a linear function of DAFB. Percentage of fruit with scald and scald rating changed quadratically with DAFB, and decay increased linearly with DAFB. After 150 days of CA, firmness was correlated with DAFB, SI, and IE at harvest; TA was correlated with DAFB, firmness, SSC, TA, and SI; scald was correlated with firmness and SI; and decay was correlated with DAFB, SSC, and scald index at harvest. During 250 days of CA storage, firmness, TA, scald, and decay changed linearly with DAFB in only 1 or 2 years out of 3. Formulas were created to predict firmness after CA within 10 to 12 N (2.0–2.5 lb-f) and TA to within 25%.

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Robert A. Saftner, Judith A. Abbott, William S. Conway, and Cynthia L. Barden

Air heat, methyl jasmonate dip, and vapor treatments with the ethylene action inhibitor 1-methylcyclopropene (MCP) were used to evaluate their effects on ripening-related characteristics and susceptibility to fungal decay in `Golden Delicious' apples (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) through 5 months of storage at 0 °C and ripening at 20 °C for 7 days. Preclimacteric fruit were treated with MCP vapor at a concentration of 1 μL•L-1 for 18 h at 20 °C, 38 °C air for 4 days, methyl jasmonate dip at concentrations of 10-5 and 10-4 for 3 min at 20 °C, combinations thereof, or left untreated before storage in air at 0 °C. One set of untreated fruit was stored in a controlled atmosphere of 1.5 O2 and 2.5% CO2 at 0 °C. The MCP treatment and CA storage delayed ripening, as indicated by better retention of green peel color and flesh firmness, and the reduced respiration, ethylene production rates, and volatile (both flavor- and superficial scald-associated) levels that were observed upon transferring the fruit to 20 °C. The MCP treatment followed by air storage delayed ripening more than CA storage. The heat treatment also delayed ripening but hastened skin yellowing. While methyl jasmonate dips had no significant effect on ripening, they were the only treatments used that reduced the incidence of postharvest decay and discolored the surface of some fruit. The results indicate that MCP may provide an effective alternative to CA for maintaining quality during cold storage and ripening. The results also indicate that methyl jasmonate dip treatment may reduce postharvest decay of fruit while maintaining fruit quality.

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Zhiguo Ju and Eric A. Curry

`Granny Smith' apples (Malus × domestica Borkh) and `d'Anjou' pears (Pyrus communis L.) were dipped in a 2.5%, 5%, or 10% stripped corn oil (α-tocopherol <3 mg·kg-1) emulsions, 2000 mg·L-1 diphenylamine (DPA), respectively, at harvest and stored in air at 0 °C for 8 months. Untreated fruit served as controls. In oil-treated apples and pears, ethylene and α-farnesene production rates were lower in early storage and higher in late storage than in control. Control fruit developed 34% scald in `Granny Smith' apples and 23% scald in `d'Anjou' pears after 6 months storage, whereas fruit treated with oil at 5% or 10%, or with DPA at 2000 mg·L-1 were free from scald. After 8 months storage, oil at 10% was as effective as DPA in controlling scald in pears, whereas in apples, fruit treated with 10% oil developed 18% scald and DPA-treated fruit were scald-free. DPA-treated apples developed 32% senescent scald, while 5% or 10% oil-treated fruit had none. Oil-treated fruit were greener, firmer, and contained more titratable acidity after 8 months of storage than control or DPA-treated apples and pears. In `Granny Smith', 100% of the controls and 79% of the DPA-treated fruit developed coreflush after 8 months of storage, but both 5% and 10% oil-treated fruit were free from coreflush. In `d'Anjou', 34% of the controls and 27% of the DPA-treated fruit showed decay after 8 months of storage, compared with 5% decay in 5% oiltreated fruit, and no decay in 10% oil-treated fruit.

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Charles F. Forney

Freshly harvested heads of `Cruiser' or `Paragon' broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. Italica group) were heated by immersing in water at 42, 45, 48, 50, or 52C. Immersion times were decreased as treatment temperatures were increased and ranged from 20 to 40 minutes at 42C to 1 to 3 minutes at 52C. Control heads, dipped in 25C water for 0, 10, or 40 minutes, began to turn yellow after ≈3 days storage at 20C and 80% to 90% relative humidity. Immersion in 42C water delayed yellowing by 1 or 2 days; immersion in 45, 48, 50, or 52C prevented yellowing for ≤7 days. Water loss of broccoli during storage at 20C increased by ≤1% per day by some hot-water treatments. Immersion in hot water decreased the incidence of decay during storage at 20C. Immersion in 50 or 52C water for 2 minutes was most effective in controlling decay development. Broccoli immersed in 52C water for 3 minutes had a distinct off-odor. Control and treated broccoli held at 0C for 8 days following hot-water dips were similar in quality. Yellowing of heat-treated broccoli was inhibited when broccoli was warmed to 20C following storage at 0C. Hot-water treatments also delayed senescence at 20C when broccoli was treated following 3 weeks of storage at 0C. Immersion of broccoli in 50C water for 2 minutes was the most effective treatment for reducing yellowing and decay while not inducing off-odors or accelerating weight loss.

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M. Schirra, M. Agabbio, S. D'Aquino, and T.G. McCollum

The influence of postharvest heat conditioning at 38 °C for 24, 48, or 72 hours on ripe `Gialla' cactus pear [Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Miller] fruit produced by the spring flush was investigated during 21 days of storage at 6 °C and 90%-95% relative humidity (RH) followed by 7 days at 20 °C and 70%-75% RH (simulated marketing). Conditioning for 24 to 72 h reduced by 50% the severity of chilling injury (CI) on cactus pears following exposure to cold storage. Treatment for 24 to 72 h was also effective in reducing decay, with conditioning for 24 h being the most effective. Overall visual quality was better in heat-conditioned compared with control fruit. Mass loss was significantly reduced by all heat conditioning treatments. Respiration rate was not affected by heat treatment. Ethylene evolution was lower in fruit heat-conditioned for 48 or 72 h than for 0 h. Conditioning for 72 h resulted in the highest fruit ethanol levels. The influence of conditioning on juice pH, titratable acidity, soluble solids concentration and ascorbic acid was negligible. Prestorage heat treatment provides some measure of CI and decay control without detrimental effects to visual quality of early ripening cactus pear fruit and may offer an alternative to fungicide treatments.

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Giancarlo Colelli, F. Gordon Mitchell, and Adel A. Kader

Good quality of fresh `Mission' figs (Ficus carica L.) was maintained for up to 4 weeks when kept at 0, 2.2, or 5C in atmospheres enriched with 15% or 20% CO2. The visible benefits of exposure to high CO2 levels were reduction of decay incidence and maintenance of bright external appearance. Ethylene production was lower, and fruit softening (as measured with a deformation tester) was slower in the high-CO2-stored figs than in those kept in air. Ethanol content of the CO2-treated fruit increased slightly during the first 3 weeks and moderately during the 4th week, while acetaldehyde concentration increased during the first week, then decreased. The results may be applicable to the transport and storage of fresh `Mission' figs, as high CO2 extended their postharvest life, especially near 0C.