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R.J. Bender and J.K. Brecht

Mangoes for long-distance markets are harvested at the mature-green stage and shipped in refrigerated containers. Shipment under controlled atmosphere is still tentative, and the CO2 concentrations used are relatively low (maximum 10%), although mangoes have been reported as being less-sensitive to elevated CO2 than other tropical fruits. In the present study, CO2 concentrations of 10%, 15%, 25%, 35%, and 45% combined with 5% O2 were used to store mangoes. Mature-green `Tommy Atkins' were stored for 21 days at 12C, followed by air storage at 20C for 5 days. Tree-ripe mangoes were stored at 8 or 12C under the same conditions. Ethanol production rates increased along with increasing CO2 concentrations. However, only 35% and 45% CO2 atmospheres inflicted damage. Color development was severely inhibited under those treatments. Lower CO2 treatments, up to 25% in the storage atmosphere, inhibited skin color development and ethylene biosynthesis but, after 5 days in air at 20C, skin color and ethylene production reached control levels. Fruit flesh firmness did not differ among treatments at 12C. Tree ripe mangoes stored in CA at 8C were only significantly firmer than control fruit at transfer from CA to air.

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J.K. Brecht, S.J. Locascio and K.A. Bergsma

Tomatoes (var. Sunny) were grown using drip irrigation and polyethylene mulch in a three-year study with water applied to plots at 0, 0.25, 0.50, 0.75 and 1.00 times pan evaporation in one application per day. Breaker stage fruit were harvested twice each season at 7 to 10 day intervals and evaluated after storage for 11 days at 20C. Response to water application varied with seasonal rainfall levels. Soluble solids levels decreased with increasing water quantity only in the first (relatively dry) season, while titratable acidity levels decreased with increasing water in all three seasons. Fruit color was not affected by water quantity in the first season but hue angle increased and chroma decreased with increasing water in the second and third seasons. Decay incidence (associated primarily with blossom end rot) was higher in nonirrigated than irrigated treatments and in the second harvests. Internal white tissue, a symptom of irregular ripening, was more common in irrigated treatments and in the wetter second and third seasons

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J.K. Brecht, K. Cordasco and W.B. Sherman

Two nonmelting flesh (`GUFprince' and `UF2000') and two melting flesh (`Tropic Beauty' and `Rayon') peach cultivars were segregated into ripeness categories at harvest according to initial flesh firmness and prepared as fresh-cut slices as described in Gorny et al. (HortScience 33:110–113), except that there were no “overripe” (0-13 N flesh firmness) stage nonmelting flesh fruit. Slices were stored at 1, 5, or 10 °C for 8 days and were evaluated for visual and taste quality, flesh firmness and color, and respiration and ethylene production rates every other day during storage. The optimal ripeness for preparing fresh-cut slices from the melting flesh cultivars was the “ripe” (13-27 N flesh firmness) stage; less-ripe melting flesh slices did not ripen at 1 or 5 °C and riper melting flesh slices and those held at 10 °C softened excessively, became discolored, and decayed. The optimal ripeness stage for the nonmelting flesh cultivars was 40-53 N flesh firmness, which corresponded to physiologically ripe (climacteric rise) for nonmelting flesh fruit, but melting flesh fruit at that firmenss were physiologically only mature-green (preclimacteric). Storage of nonmelting flesh slices was limited by surface desiccation at 1 °C, and by flesh discoloration at 5 and 10 °C, which was more severe in riper slices. The best storage temperature for both fruit genotypes was 1 °C, which prevented discoloration and decay over the 8-day storage period. Nonmelting flesh peach cultivars are better suited for fresh-cut processing than melting flesh cultivars because their firmer texture allows the use of riper fruit with better flavor than the less ripe fruit that must be used for fresh-cut melting flesh peaches.

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N. El-Assi, D. J. Huber and J. K. Brecht

The use of irradiation to increase longevity and quality of horticultural commodities often results in undesirable softening. The biochemical basis of irradiation-induced softening is not well understood. In this study, we investigated the role of the pectic polysaccharides in irradiation-induced textural changes of `Sunny' tomato fruit. `Sunny' mature-green and pink fruit subjected to 84 or 240 Krad experienced a dosage-dependent decrease in firmness, an increase in electrolyte leakage, and an increase in chelator-soluble pectins. Additionally, pectins prepared from 240 Krad-irradiated fruit were of markedly lower mol wt compared to those from nonirradiated fruit. Irradiation-induced downshifts in pectin mol wt were also noted for preripe fruit that lack PG activity. Mol wt decreases noted for pectins from 240 Krad-treated fruit exceeded those observed for fully ripe, nonirradiated fruit The role of other cell wall polymers in irradiation-induced textural changes is currently being addressed.

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George J. Hochmuth, Jeffrey K. Brecht and Mark J. Bassett

Potassium (K) is required for successful carrot (Daucus carota) production on sandy soils of the southeastern United States, yet there is little published research documenting most current university Cooperative Extension Service recommendations. Soil test methods for K in carrot production have not been rigorously validated. Excessive fertilization sometimes is practiced by carrot growers to compensate for potential losses of K from leaching and because some growers believe that high rates of fertilization may improve vegetable quality. Carrots were grown in three plantings during the winter of 1994-95 in Gainesville, Fla., to test the effects of K fertilization on carrot yield and quality on a sandy soil testing medium (38 ppm) in Mehlich-1 soil-test K. Large-size carrot yield was increased linearly with K fertilization. Yields of U.S. No. 1 grade carrots and total marketable carrots were not affected by K fertilization. K fertilizer was not required on this soil even though the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service recommendation was for 84 lb/acre K. Neither soluble sugar nor carotenoid concentrations in carrot roots were affected by K fertilization. The current K recommendation for carrots grown on sandy soils testing 38 ppm Mehlich-1 K could be reduced and still maintain maximum carrot yield and root quality.

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George J. Hochmuth, Jeffrey K. Brecht and Mark J. Bassett

Nitrogen is required for successful carrot production on sandy soils of the southeastern United States, yet carrot growers often apply N in amounts exceeding university recommendations. Excessive fertilization is practiced to compensate for losses of N from leaching and because some growers believe that high rates of fertilization improve vegetable quality. Carrots (Daucus carota L.) were grown in three plantings during Winter 1994–95 in Gainesville, Fla., to test the effects of N fertilization on yield and quality. Yield increased with N fertilization but the effect of N rate depended on planting date; 150 kg·ha–1 N maximized yield for November and December plantings but 180 kg·ha–1 N was sufficient for the January planting. Concentration of total alcohol-soluble sugar was maximized at 45 mg·g–1 fresh root with 140 kg·ha–1 N for `Choctaw' carrots, whereas sugar concentration of `Scarlet Nantes' roots was not affected by N fertilization. Carrot root carotenoid concentration was maximized at 55 mg·kg–1 fresh root tissue with 160 kg·ha–1 N. Generally, those N fertilization rates that maximized carrot root yield also maximized carrot quality as determined by sugar and carotenoid concentrations.

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A.S.A. Rahman, D.J. Huber and J.K. Brecht

Bell pepper (Capsicum annum var. Jupiter) fruit were exposed to 1.5% O2 for 1 to 5 days at 20C to examine whether the low-O2-induced poststorage respiratory suppression (PRS) in whole fruit could be due to limitations in mitochondrial oxidative capacity. Mitochondrial oxidative capacity was not affected after storing bell peppers for 1 day in 1.5 % O2. Extending the storage period from 1 to 5 days in 1.5 % 0, resulted in PRS of CO2 production for about 55 hours after transfer to air, and a marked reduction in the oxidative capacity of isolated mitochondria. Mitochondrial activity was suppressed for 10 hours after transfer to air but, within 24 hours, bad recovered to values comparable to those of mitochondria from fruit stored continuously in air. Storing bell peppers in 1.5% O2 for 5 days resulted in a reduction in the respiratory control (RC), while ADP/O ratios were not affected. The reduction was temporary since the RC attained normal activity after returning bell peppers to air. Cyanide-sensitive cytochrome and CN-insensitive pathways were suppressed after storing fruit in 1.5 % O2 for 5 days. After returning fruit from a low-O2 atmosphere to air, the alternative pathway recovered at a greater rate than the cytochrome pathway.

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N. El-Assi, D.J. Huber and J.K. Brecht

The irradiation of harvested fruit is typically accompanied by excessive tissue softening, a process that is not well understood. In this study, we examined the role of specific cell wall polymers and the extent of general cell wall degradation and softening in irradiated tomato fruit. `Sunny' tomato fruit at mature-green and pink stages were subjected to X-ray radiation at 0, 83, and 156 Krad. Immediate softening was noted for both maturation classes, although some postirradiation recovery was evident in green fruit. Pectic polymers of both mature-green and pink fruit exhibited depolymerization and altered neutral sugar profiles in response to irradiation. Pectins, either as components of total ethanol-insoluble solids (EIS), purified by selective extraction, or of commercial origin were similarly affected by irradiation. Cellulose preparations were unaffected by irradiation. The data demonstrate that the effect of irradiation on the cell wall exhibits specificity, can occur nonenzymatically, and does not require initiating adducts of cytosolic origin.

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K. Bergsma, S. Sargent, J. Brecht and R. Peart

Temperature management is the most widely used method to extend the postharvest life of vegetables. Unfortunately, during less than optimal commercial conditions, certain commodities can be exposed to low, nonfreezing temperatures that may shorten their market life due to chilling injury (CI). CI is difficult to diagnose since not all commodities exhibit the same symptoms. Environmental factors may also affect the expression of CI The services of an expert are usually required to positively diagnose CI, however, experts are not always readily available, particularly during routine commercial handling. An expert system, a computer program that emulates a human expert's thought processes, will be developed to diagnose CI symptoms for several commodities. A prototype developed with Level5 Object, an expert system shell, will be presented. Diagnosis is determined by applying rules and certainty factors based on user responses to queries on the type and extent of visual symptoms. The applicability and advantages of this system will be discussed.

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R.L. Shewfelt, J.K. Brecht and C.N. Thai

Tomato ripeness is currently assessed by a subjective visual classification scheme based on external color while maturity of green fruit is based on a destructive evaluation of internal locule development. In an effort to develop an objective method of tomato maturity and ripeness classification, external color measurements were performed on fresh, sized (6×7) `mature-green' tomatoes (cv “Sunny') initially and through ripening using a Gardner XL-845 colorimeter. Hue angle (tan-1 b/a, designated θ) provided the best objective means of ripeness classification with proposed ranges for mature-green (θ>114), breaker (101<θ<114), turning (85<θ<101), pink (64<θ<85), light red (36<θ<64) and red (θ<36) classes using average hue at the circumference. Hue angle at the blossom end was 2-12° lower than at the circumference due to initiation of color development at the blossom end. Colorimetry was not able to distinguish differences in physiological maturity of mature-green tomatoes as determined by the length of time required to develop from mature-green to breaker which varied from 1 to 22 days in the test.