Int. J. Agric. Biol., Vol. 14, No. 1, 2012
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Fruits were randomly collected from 8-year
‘Khalas’) trees planted at aspacing
10 × 10 m at the Agricultural ExperimentStation of Sultan Qaboos University in the Sultanate of Oman, during the summer of 2008. Fruit bunches werethinned to eight per tree following fruit set and prior tosampling.
The date palms were supplied with to thestandard
strands per eight replicationtrees
each of the threeripening
& tamar). The fruitswere further divided into sub-samples of 100 fruits per replication for the physical and chemical qualitymeasurements. The fruits were placed into clear plastic bagsand stored in a conventional freezer with temperature set toat -18
Fruit quality measurements:
Date fruits were harvested ateach of the ripening stages (i.e., khalal, rutab & tamar) andwere immediately subjected to physical and chemicalquality
months of storage. The following fruit measurements weretaken: fruit number per strand, fruit fresh weight, fruitvolume, flesh and seed weights and juice contents.Chemical quality attributes were conducted using theextracted juice that included total soluble solids (TSS)contents, titratable acidity (TA), pH, and pectin. Fresh anddry weights of fruits were used to calculate the percentageof fruit biomass. Dry weight was determined by drying in anair oven at 105ºC for 24 h (AOAC, 2000). TA wasdetermined against 0.01 N of sodium hydroxide accordingto AOAC (2000), and results expressed in terms of citricacid. Total soluble solids (TSS %) measured by digitalrefractometer (160, Shibuya Optical Co. Ltd., Wako-shi,Saitama Pref., Japan). For dry fruits at the tamar stage, datesolution was prepared by weighing 30 g of fruit samples andan aliquot of 90 mL of distilled water was added and blended.
The statistical analysis to test theeffects of the two variables (i.e., ripening stage & storage period) and their interaction distributed in a completelyrandomized design (CRD) on fruit quality was done usingthe Generalized Linear Model (GLM) of the SAS Software(SAS Institute, Carey, NC). The means for the effects of storage period and the ripening stages were separated andcompared using the Duncan’s Multiple Range Test asdescribed by Snedecor and Cochran (1989). Least squaremeans (LSMeans) option of the GML procedure was usedto determine the interaction between the two variables.Hence no significant interaction was found, data is presented herein for the main effects of storage periods andripening stages only. Mean points were calculated from pooled data of all the fruit ripening stages or storageduration ± standard error (SE).
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
This study investigated the long-term changes in fruit physical and chemical quality attributes during freeze-storage of dates at different maturity stages. Upon harvest,the ranges of the quantity of physical characteristics andchemical components were similar to those previouslyobtained for date palm fruit (cv. ‘Khalas’) grown under similar conditions of northern Oman (Al-Kharusi
2007; El Mardi
Fruit physical quality attributes:
Results showedsignificant changes in various fruit physical characteristicsin response to freeze-storage of fruits at various ripeningstages (Fig. 1 & 2). Significant reductions in flesh and seedweights due to prolonged freeze-storage for 6 and 10months
stages(Fig. 1). However, no change in fruit volume occurred after 10 months of storage and the ratio of flesh to seed remainedhigh (~90%) up to six months but was slightly reduced to87.65% at the 10
month of storage (Fig. 1).Samples collected during the ripening stages of khalaland rutab had more fruits per strand than at the later over-ripe (tamar) stage that had about one third of the fruitsremained intact in the strands (Fig. 2). This indicated thatextended on-tree storage of dates is not suitable for ‘Khalas’cultivar and harvest should be carried out during the earlier ripening stages. Data further showed that no significantdifference between khalal and rutab in fruit weight andvolume (Fig. 2). However, rutab stage had the greatestaverage fruit volume, flesh and seed weights, and percentage of flesh to seed, while tamar stage was thelowest amongst the three ripening stages (Fig. 2). This isexpected since tamar stage has the lowest moisture content,which correlates with reduced physical fruit measurements.Previous study on ‘Khalas’ from UAE suggested amaximum storage of two months under -3
C compared toBarhee cultivar that was stored for a year under similar conditions
(1998) attributed the rapid deterioration of ‘Khalas’ to perhaps chemical and physiological changes in‘Khalas’ dates. Lower storage temperature of -18
C mayhave helped preserve our ‘Khalas’ samples for up to 10months.
Fruit chemical quality attributes:
Results from this studyshowed variations in measured fruit chemical qualityattributes of dates stored at -18
C at various ripening stages(Fig. 3 & 4). Freeze storage up to six months increased fruit(TSS) (
Brix), TA and pH (Fig. 3). Unexplained rise in TAafter 6 months of storage led to a significant decline inTSS:TA ratio followed by 10-month storage compared to ahigh TSS:TA ratio determined upon harvest (Fig. 3). Fruit pectin content was measured at harvest and after 10 monthsof storage at -18
C showed a significant decline over this period (Fig. 3). However, due to lack of data for 6 months, itis not clear if this was a steady decline or it would havefollowed the trend for TSS mentioned above. Fruit biomass