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Sokrith Sea, Cyril Rakovski and Anuradha Prakash

The objective of this study was to determine the effect of phytosanitary X-ray irradiation on the physicochemical properties and sensory attributes of early- and late-harvest ‘Bartlett’ pears (Pyrus communis L.) during ripening under simulated commercial conditions. Irradiation delayed ripening, which in turn affected respiration rate, ethylene production, and firmness. Irradiation decreased ethylene production in early- and late-harvest pears and maintained firmness as compared with the control pears. In the early-harvest pears, irradiation did not affect respiration rate, weight loss, or total soluble solids. However, in the late-harvest pears, irradiation resulted in an increase in respiration rate and weight loss and a decrease in total soluble solids. The appearance for irradiated early-harvest pears was rated lower by consumers, but there were no significant differences in the rest of the attributes. Consumers rated the irradiated late-harvest pears lower (P < 0.05) than the non-treated pears for overall liking, texture, and flavor on a 9-point hedonic scale. Consumers perceived the late-harvest irradiated pears to be less sweet than the control (P < 0.05), which correlated with total soluble solids of 12.4% for treated pears vs. 13.2% for the control. Our results show that there were significant differences between the early- and late-harvest pears in their responses to irradiation. Although some sensory attributes were negatively affected, the delay in ripening helped reduce bruising and mold development in irradiated pears during the retail display simulation.