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  • Author or Editor: Graeme A. King x
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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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Compositional changes during the postharvest senescence of broccoli branchlets held at 20C in the dark were investigated, particularly during the first 24 hours. Major losses of sugars, organic acids, and proteins from floral, middle, and base sections of branchlets were detected during the first 6 hours. Between 12 and 96 hours, free amino acid pools increased (especially the amides glutamine and asparagine) for all sections of branchlets, while ammonia accumulated only in floral sections. Results are discussed in relation to the nature of the processes that set the tissues on the pathways leading to postharvest senescence.

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