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Sylvia M. Blankenship

Banana fruit respiration rates and quality parameters such as peel color, pulp pH and soluble solids content were examined at 14°C under a number of controlled atmosphere (CA) environments. CA conditions were 1%, 2%, 4%, or 8% oxygen with or without 5% carbon dioxide. Each treatment combination was also done with or without 50 μL·L–1 ethylene added to the atmospheres. Green banana fruit were either gassed with ethylene (triggered) or ungassed. One percent oxygen was too low to consistently give undamaged bananas. The addition of 5% carbon dioxide to the controlled atmosphere increased fruit respiration rate whereas air plus 5% carbon dioxide showed decreased respiration when compared to air control fruits. Green, triggered fruit partially ripened under the CA conditions. Pulp pH and soluble solids content changed in a normal ripening pattern, however peel color was poor. Addition of ethylene to the atmospheres advanced fruit ripening somewhat in all fruit. When green, ungassed bananas were placed under CA, the presence of ethylene in the atmosphere did not cause the bananas to turn yellow, although some changes in pH and soluble solids were detectable. In triggered fruit the presence of ethylene in the storage advanced ripening with higher oxygen concentrations promoting faster ripening. Bananas that have ripened under CA conditions are not as high quality as those ripened in air in terms of visual appearance.

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Randolph M. Beaudry and Sylvia M. Blankenship

The reasons for knowing the maturity of fruit center around controlling fruit quality after harvest. Farmers are usually concerned with trying to determine harvest date to fit their labor, storage, and marketing needs, whereas research scientists are typically trying to account for the effects of maturity as a variable in experiments. Specific goals for farmer and researcher will, in part, govern what maturity indices are used and what values are acceptable. Restrictions in time and equipment will also affect choice of maturity assessment methods. In some instances, internal or external characteristics might be more important. Because changes in a number of characteristics comprise ripening, there is no single criteria or method that can be termed “best.” However, for each situation, an optimal choice of criteria or method may exist. The logic and information necessary to reach those optimal choices, from the perspective of the researcher and the commercial horticulture operation, is presented and contrasted.

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Sylvia M. Blankenship and Robert W. Herdeman

Bananas were held at 18C in all possible combinations of 65%, 75%, or 95% relative humidity (RH) before and after gassing with ethylene. Peel color, fruit firmness, starch loss, compression injury to peel and pulp, and overall peel scarring were measured. Peels were greener and the fruit were slightly firmer when fruit were held in the higher humidity combinations, particularly when the humidity was high after gassing with ethylene. Starch loss was not different among humidity treatments. Overall peel scarring was about twice as severe with 65% RH compared to 95% RH during the ripening phase. Low humidity before ethylene gassing had little effect on overall scarring. There were some instances where humidity had a significant effect on compression injury; high humidity caused less injury, but the effect was inconsistent.

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L.E. Hinesley and Sylvia M. Blankenship

Several floral and tree preservatives were evaluated to determine their effect on postharvest needle retention of Fraser fir [Abies fraseri (Pursh) Poir.], an important Christmas tree species. Clorox (sodium hypochlorite) and aspirin (salicylic acid) caused massive needle loss, and three of the six commercial additives increased needle loss significantly, No treatment was better than water alone.

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Michael L. Parker and Sylvia M. Blankenship

A problem facing the peach industry is the ability to harvest field-ripened peaches and get them to market without significant softening or damage. However, getting mature peaches into marketing channels before significant softening occurs is a challenge. Our objectives were to evaluate two growth regulators to determine the effect on fruit quality and softening at harvest and after 1, 2, or 3 weeks in cold storage and to evaluate the effect on harvest date. The two products evaluated in this study were ReTain (aminoethoxyvinylglycine (AVG)—Abbott Labs) and EthylBloc (1-methylcyclopropene (MCP)—Biotechnologies for Horticulture). ReTain is a growth regulator that inhibits ethylene production and is used in commercial apple production to delay harvest. EthylBloc is applied as a gas and attaches to ethylene receptor sites which inhibits ethylene effects. A trial with preharvest foliar applications of ReTain and postharvest gassing with EthylBloc was initiated in July 1998 on `Contender' peaches. ReTain applications were made at 3-day intervals beginning 19 days before first harvest at the rate of 50 g a.i./acre. Applications 3 days before harvest resulted in increased flesh firmness at harvest and decreased ethylene evolution, which continued for up to 3 weeks in cold storage. Fruit were also gassed with 1 μl•L-1 (1ppm) EthylBloc in the laboratory the day following harvest for 24 h. Fruit treated with ReTain and EthylBloc had twice the flesh firmness of peaches that were not treated after 1 week in storage. ReTain applied 3 days before harvest delayed maturity. Further evaluation will be conducted in 1999.

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L.E. Hinesley and Sylvia M. Blankenship

Cut branches of Fraser fir [Abies fraseri (Pursh) Poir.] were subjected to solutions with different molarity, pH, and solutes. Citrate-phosphate and Na-phosphate buffers induced heavy needle loss at concentrations as low as 10 mm, whereas needle loss was negligible for MES buffer, sucrose solutions, and distilled water. Needle drop increased in response to higher solute concentration and/or greater duration of exposure. Needle loss was almost 100% at pH 3.0 and 9.0, but minimal at pH 6.0 and 7.0. Chemical name used: 2-(N-morpholino) ethanesulfonic acid (MES).

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Sylvia M. Blankenship and L. Eric Hinesley

Fraser fir [Abies fraseri (Pursh) Poir.] branches were held at 5C for 4 to 6 weeks in the following atmospheres: 1% or 3% in nitrogen; 0%, 1%, 5%, 10%, 20%, 40%, or 50% CO2 in air; or air only. Experiments were conducted in two. years during the fall, winter, and early spring. In general, CO2 ≥ 5% accelerated needle loss. There was considerable tree-to-tree variation in tolerance to elevated CO2. Oxygen at 1% killed branches, and 3% O2 showed no benefit compared to air. The initial dark respiration rate at 21C was about four times higher than at SC. Respiration decreased for ≈ 10 days and stabilized at 14% to 20% of the initial values. Respiration increased exponentially with increasing temperature between 5 and 27C. Short-term controlled or modified atmosphere storage would probably not be useful in improving the postharvest handling of Fraser fir.

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Sylvia M. Blankenship and Michael D. Boyette

`Beauregard', `Jewel', `Hernandez', `Carolina Rose', and `White Delight' sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] roots were placed in chambers for curing at 30 °C and 50%, 70%, or 85% relative humidity (RH) for 1 week. Uncured roots were held at 15 °C and 90% RH. After curing, roots were removed temporarily from the chambers, and chamber conditions were reset for the following storage treatments: 15 °C/85% RH; 18 °C/70% RH; and 18 °C/50% RH. Roots were stored 3 to 4 weeks. Experiments were in factorial arrangements so all combinations of curing and storage conditions were present. Experiments were conducted in two seasons. Roots were subjected to a pressurized water jet and the amount of skinning that occurred was visually rated several times during curing and storage. Weight loss was measured in `Beauregard'. Susceptibility to skinning changed over time and with the temperature and humidity conditions. Curing at 30 °C and any humidity between 50% and 85% generally improved epidermal adhesion, but there were exceptions. Lower humidities promoted greater weight loss. Epidermal adhesion changed during storage, becoming both stronger and weaker, indicating that sweetpotato epidermis is in an active state even after curing. The standard curing and storage conditions of 30 °C/85% RH and 15 °C/85% RH, respectively, are still a reasonable practice.

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Sylvia M. Blankenship and Edward C. Sisler

Scatchard plots for ethylene binding in apples (Malus domestica Borkh.), which were harvested weekly for 5 weeks to include the ethylene climacteric rise, showed C50 values (concentration of ethylene needed to occupy 50% of the ethylene binding sites) of 0.10, 0.11, 0.34, 0.40, and 0.57 μl ethylene/liter-1, respectively, for each of the 5 weeks. Higher ethylene concentrations were required to saturate the binding sites during the climacteric rise than at other times. Diffusion of 14C-ethylene from the binding sites was curvilinear and did not show any indication of multiple binding sites. Ethylene was not metabolized by apple tissue.