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Carlos H. Crisosto, Vanessa Bremer, Louise Ferguson and Gayle M. Crisosto

The effect of two fruit maturity stages on the quality attributes of four fresh fig cultivars was examined, including consumer acceptance and antioxidant capacity. Fig quality attributes such as weight, soluble solids concentration (SSC), titratable acidity (TA), SSC:TA, firmness, antioxidant capacity, and consumer acceptance varied by cultivar. Fig cultivars harvested at the advanced maturity stage (“tree ripe”) had lower TA and firmness but higher weight, SSC, and SSC:TA than figs harvested at “commercial maturity.” Fig maturity did not affect antioxidant capacity, but tree ripe figs had higher consumer acceptance than commercial maturity figs. SSC was more highly correlated with consumer acceptance than TA or SSC:TA, but other factors may also be important in controlling this relationship. Cultivars with high SSC and firmness, at a maturity stage high enough to tolerate harvesting and postharvest handling, should be selected to develop the fresh fig industry. Because fig firmness is a concern, changes to packaging should be evaluated to protect the flavor of advanced maturity figs during postharvest handling.

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Carlos H. Crisosto, Vanessa Bremer, Maxwell Norton, Louise Ferguson and Todd Einhorn

Most fig (Ficus carica) cultivars have potentially two crops; fruit from the first crop are called brebas. This crop is commercially important in some Mediterranean area cultivars. The second or main crop, called figs, is the commercially important crop for most fig cultivars. Due to labor cost increases, harvest of the breba crop, with its low production and lower quality fruit, has become economically unviable in some cultivars. Unharvested brebas are potential sites for fungal pathogens and they attract insects. Spring ethephon applications of 250 to 500 ppm applied before full leaf expansion, when the largest fruit are about 1.5 to 2 cm in diameter reduced the breba crop load (≈92%) without adverse side effects. The use of early fall ethephon applications of 500 ppm also resulted in breba crop load reductions (≈30%), but with significantly lower efficacy than spring treatments. These fall and/or spring ethephon treatments did not affect the percentage of vegetative budbreak, breba weight, breba soluble solids concentration, fig crop load, fig weight, or ethephon residues. Thus, early spring ethephon application at 300 ppm (0.22–0.36 kg·ha−1), when breba fruit and leaves are just starting to develop and figs are not present, was a safe, effective and inexpensive way (about $16 per hectare) to reduce the breba crop. Currently, ethephon is included in the federal IR-4 program, and residue studies are ongoing as a protocol for future registration.