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Elizabeth J. Mitcham

The produce industry faces a future with reduced access to postharvest fungicides. It has become increasingly important to reduce commodity susceptibility to decay and to develop non chemical methods for decay control. Heat therapy has been demonstrated to be effective for control of numerous decays and is currently practiced for control of anthracnose in mangoes and papayas and for decay control in oranges. The limitations to heat therapy include the often tine line between effectiveness and commodity injury and the lack of residual protection. Modified atmosphere has been used effectively for many years by the California strawberry and raspberry industry to allow cross-country shipment of a commodity on which no postharvest fungicides are used. It has been shown that CO2 concentrations of 15% and higher inhibit the growth of many fungi, including Botrytis cinerea, the main cause of strawberry decay. Many commodities cannot tolerate 15% CO2 for an extended period of time. However, the short term (1 to 3 weeks) tolerance has not been determined. With the loss of postharvest fungicides, we may find that many commodities could benefit from shipment under high CO2, as have strawberries. The combination of heat therapy and MA will also be discussed.

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Salah E. Youssef and Elizabeth J. Mitcham

Peaches and apricots were obtained at harvest. One-half were inoculated with the brown rot organism (Monilinia fructicola) and incubated overnight before immersion in 52C water for 2.5 and 2 minutes, respectively. Fruit were placed in storage at SC in air, 2% O2 and 15% CO2, or 17% O2 and 15% CO2 for 5 or 15 days before ripening at 20C. For peach, controlled atmosphere (CA) had no influence on decay while hot water significantly reduced decay incidence and severity. For apricot, after 15 days cold storage, both hot water and controlled atmosphere storage reduced decay incidence and severity. CA with 2% O2 and 15% CO2 controlled decay better than 17% O2 and 15% CO2. Growth and sporulation of Monilinia fructicola in air and CA was also evaluated in vitro. The combination of heat and CA controlled decay better than either treatment alone. The hot water treatment resulted in minor surface injury on peaches while apricots were not injured. Fruit were evaluated after storage for firmness, soluble solids, and titratable acidity. Accumulation of ethanol and acetaldehyde as a result of CA storage was monitored.

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Annette L. Wszelaki and Elizabeth J. Mitcham

Controlled atmospheres have been proven an effective postharvest disease deterrent for strawberries both in transport and storage. However, these treatments do not provide residual protection once the commodity is removed from the atmosphere, and the atmospheres can cause off-flavors in the fruit. Elevated oxygen atmospheres are a novel addition to this technology and could potentially provide better decay control without the harmful effects on fruit flavor aspects. Elevated oxygen will potentially discourage microbial growth, as anaerobes grow best under very low oxygen levels and aerobes grow best under atmospheric oxygen. Threshold elevated oxygen levels to prevent Botrytis cinerea growth in vitro and in vivo on strawberry were assessed. Botrytis cultures (mycelial plugs and spores) and fresh strawberry fruit were exposed to 21%, 40%, 60%, and 80% oxygen atmospheres at 5 °C for 5, 7, and 14 d. Growth of cultures from mycelial plugs was evaluated after treatment and during post-treatment incubation by measuring the diameter of the fungus. Spore germination and germ tube elongation were evaluated every 24 h for 3 days after treatment by counting the number of germinated spores and measuring elongation, respectively. Strawberry quality including firmness, color, soluble solids, titratable acidity, ethylene production and respiration rates, and presence of defects were evaluated upon removal from the elevated oxygen atmospheres as well as after 1, 3, and 5 d storage in air at 20 °C simulating market conditions.

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Elizabeth J. Mitcham and Roy E. McDonald

Mature green mango (Mangifera indica L.) fruit were heated (100% RH) at 50C for 120, 180 or 240 min or 46C for 160, 220 or 280 min. The rate of mesocarp color (CIE a*) development was reduced in treated fruit, particularly in inner tissue. Rate of softening of mesocarp tissue was reduced after heat treatment; inner more than outer. Fruit treated at 50C remained more firm than control fruit 9 days after treatment, whereas fruit treated at 46C were more firm than controls 3 days after treatment, but were similar by 9 days. Electrolyte leakage from inner mesocarp tissue disks increased with increasing time at 50C, but was unchanged in fruit treated at 46C. However, after 3 days, electrolyte leakage returned to control levels. Ethylene-forming enzyme (EFE) activity of inner meso-carp tissue was greatly reduced in fruit treated at 50C (all times), and at 46C (220 and 280 min). After 3 days, EFE activity of fruit from most treatments had recovered to levels higher than controls. These data indicate that fruit may be able to recover from heat stress. Mild heat stress may increase postharvest shelf life by reducing the rate of softening.

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Elizabeth J. Mitcham and Roy E. McDonald

`Keitt' and `Tommy Atkins' mango (Mangifera indica L.) fruit were evaluated for selected ripening criteria at six ripening stages, from mature green to overripe. `Tommy Atkins' mangos developed more red and yellow pigmentation (CIE a* and b*) in peel and mesocarp tissues than `Keitt'. The outer mesocarp of `Keitt' remained firm longer than `Tommy Atkins', and the inner mesocarp was softer than the outer at each stage in both cultivars. Cell wall neutral sugars, particularly arabinosyl, rhamnosyl, and galactosyl residues, decreased with ripening in both cultivars. `Keitt' had more loosely associated, chelator-soluble pectin, accumulated more soluble polyuronides, and retained more total pectin at the ripe stage than `Tommy Atkins'. Both cultivars had similar polygalacturonase (EC 3.2.1.15) activity which increased with ripening. The amount and molecular weight of cell wall hemicellulose decreased with ripening in both cultivars. These data indicate that enzymatic and/or nonenzymatic processes, in addition to polygalacturonase activity, are involved in the extensive softening of mango fruit.

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Elizabeth J. Mitcham, Kenneth C. Gross, and Timothy J Ng

Cell wall synthesis during development and ripening of `Rutgers', rin and nor tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) fruit was quantified by monitoring incorporation of 14C into outer pericarp cell walls after pedicel injection of (U-14C) - sucrose. Fruit color (Hunter “a” and “b” values) and firmness (Instron) were also monitored. 14C-Incorporation continued throughout development and ripening in `Rutgers' cell walls and exhibited a transient increase from late maturegreen to the turning stage. Incorporation of 14C into cell walls of rin pericarp tissue was similar to `Rutgers' at 20 days pest-anthesls (DPA) (immature-green) but decreased to a level similar to red `Rutgers' fruit by 35 DPA. Incorporation of 14C into nor pericarp cell walls was low throughout the experimental period (20 to 75 DPA). In contrast to previous reports, rin and nor pericarp tissue exhibitad a decrease in firmness of the outer pericarp. However, the rate of softening was slower than in `Rutgers'. Pericarp tissue from rin and nor fruit at 70 and 75 DPA, respectively, resisted compression as much as pink `Rutgers' pericarp tissue.

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Miguel H. Ahumada, Elizabeth J. Mitcham, and Denise G. Moore

Nonfumigated `Thompson Seedless' table grapes were stored in air or one of four atmospheres: 0.5% O2 and 35% CO2; 0.5% O2 and 45% CO2; 0.5% O2 and 55% CO2; and 100% CO2. Grapes were stored at 5C and 20C for 6 and 4.5 days, respectively. The fruit were evaluated for weight loss, berry firmness, soluble solids, titratable acidity, berry shattering, rachis browning, berry browning, and volatiles (acetaldehyde and ethanol). Fruit quality was not affected at 5C; however, at 20C, controlled atmosphere (CA) treatments had a detrimental effect on rachis browning and soluble solids. CA at both temperatures induced the production of high levels of acetaldehyde and ethanol. After treatment at 5C, volatile concentrations were two-thirds lower than at 20C. A consumer taste panel evaluated fruit 3 days after removal from CA. Consumer preference was negatively affected by the CA treatments at 20C; however at 5C, consumer preferencewas not affected by the treatments. Preliminary data for mortality of Omnivorous Leafroller pupae (Platynota stultana), Western Flower Thrips adults (Frankliniella occidentalis), and Pacific Spider Mite adults (Tetranychus pacificus) indicate that many of these treatments would provide quarantine security.

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I. Tayfun Agar, William V. Biasi, and Elizabeth J. Mitcham

Ripening behavior of `Bartlett' pears (Pyrus communis L.), with or without ethylene (C2H4) treatment, was assessed at harvest, and after 2, 4, 6 and 12 weeks of cold storage at –1 °C. Fruit exhibited increasing rates of C2H4 production and consequently faster ripening rates with increased length of cold storage. Ripening characteristics were influenced by storage duration, but to different degrees. The data indicate that the threshold C2H4 concentration for softening may be lower than that for color change from green to yellow. Ethylene treatment for 24 h at harvest resulted in a rate of ripening equivalent to that following cold storage for 2 to 4 weeks, depending on the orchard location. Storage for 12 weeks significantly increased C2H4 production upon transfer to ambient temperature, indicating that fruit were reaching the end of their storage life. `Bartlett' pears may ripen to a firmness of 14 N (ready to eat) at 20 °C within 2.5 to 7 days depending upon the duration of prior cold storage.

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Elena de Castro, William V. Biasi, and Elizabeth J. Mitcham

Apple [Malus ×sylvestris (L.) Mill. var. domestica (Borkh.) Mansf. ‘Cripps Pink’] fruit were harvested yearly, at two or three maturity stages, from the same California orchard in 2002 through 2005. Fruit firmness, soluble solids, titratable acidity, background color, and percent blush were correlated with the starch pattern index at harvest. Fruit from each harvest were stored at 0.5 ºC in air or in a controlled atmosphere (CA) with 1.5 or 2 KPa O2 in combination with 1, 3, and 5 KPa CO2. Subsets of fruit were treated with 1 μL·L−1 1-methylcyclopropane for 24 hours at 0 ºC or 2200 μL·L−1 diphenylamine (DPA) for 5 minutes. Ethylene production was measured for 30 days after harvest. Ethylene concentration in the storage atmosphere was also monitored during storage. Fruit quality was evaluated after storage plus 5 days of ripening at 20 ºC. Fruit in a CA with 1 or 3 KPa CO2 maintained firmness and green background color, and produced less ethylene during ripening at 20 ºC than fruit stored in a CA with 5 KPa CO2; however, quality of all CA-stored fruit was better than air-stored fruit. Flesh browning developed only in CA storage, appearing by 2 months and not increasing in incidence with further storage periods. 1-Methylcyclopropane conserved fruit quality in air as well as CA during 4 months of storage, and DPA-treated fruit were firmer after CA storage, but similar after air storage, compared with untreated fruit. Diphenylamine did not control a stem-end scald disorder, which increased with time in storage and affected more than 80% of the fruit after 6 months of air storage.