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  • Author or Editor: Nana Millicent Duduzile Buthelezi x
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The production of cherry tomato (Solanum lycopersicum var. cerasiforme) is negatively affected by harsh environmental conditions such as extremely high and low temperatures, wind and hail damage, and pest and disease infestation. These factors delay maturity and cause uneven ripening, fruit abrasion, and blemishes, which consequently result in poor fruit quality and reduced shelf life. Preharvest bagging is an environmentally friendly alternative technique for enhancement of fruit quality and hence alleviates the stated problems. The study evaluated the physico-chemical quality of ‘Tinker’ and ‘Roma VF’ cherry tomato as influenced by preharvest bagging (transparent and blue plastics) during 8 days of shelf life at ambient conditions. Five clusters of fruit per plant per cultivar with a diameter of 1.5 to 2.0 cm were bagged after 16 days of fruit set and harvested at the green maturity stage, 12 days after preharvest bagging for the assessment of postharvest quality. Preharvest bagging effectively accelerated fruit maturity and ripening as indicated by enhanced fruit size, uniform color development, high pH, dry matter (DM) content, soluble solid content (SSC), and low titratable acidity (TA) during shelf life. Bagged fruit had higher loss of firmness and weight mainly due to ripening and showed very slight incidence of diseases during shelf life of 8 days. Unbagged cherry tomato had delayed maturity and ripening; small-sized fruit; uneven color development; low pH, SSC, and DM; and high TA. Although unbagged cherry tomato had lower firmness and weight loss due to delayed ripening, fruit showed moderate to severe incidence of tomato bacterial canker disease (Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis) during shelf life. These results indicated that preharvest bagging accelerated fruit maturity and ripening, improved physico-chemical quality, and reduced disease infestation on cherry tomato during shelf life.

Open Access

Preharvest factors such as poor orchard management and field sanitation can lead to pathological infection of the tree fruit being grown as well as insect pest infestation, resulting in poor postharvest fruit quality. Wind and hail damage may cause significant tree fruit abrasions and blemishes. Consequently, these preharvest factors may reduce yield and cause market and economic losses. One of the most successful methods used to manage tree fruit pathogens and insect infestation is the application of agrochemicals, predominantly fungicides and insecticides. However, this method has recently been criticized due to the adverse effects on field workers’ safety, consumers’ health, and the environment. The development and use of preharvest bagging are among the most environmentally friendly technologies intended for safe enhancement of tree fruit quality. The technique protects tree fruit against pathogens, insect pests, physiological disorders, agrochemical residues, fruit abrasions, sunburn, and bird damage, and it further modifies the microenvironment for fruit development with its various beneficial effects on its external and internal quality. Furthermore, because of the global restrictions of agrochemicals and social awareness, this technique provides extensive relief to growers and consumers. However, bagging is labor-intensive and expensive; therefore, its benefits or advantages and disadvantages must be thoroughly investigated if it is to be promoted commercially. This review examines the improvement of tree fruit quality by the application of preharvest bagging during early stages of fruit growth and development. The latest advances in the development and use of tree fruit bagging and its economic impact and cost–benefit ratio are discussed, as are recommendations for the formulation of bagging materials that could be valuable in the future.

Open Access