PRE HARVEST FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR MATURITY, RIPENING AND DETERIORATION OFHORTICULTURAL PRODUCE
S ESWARA REDDY
Post harvest losses in fruits and vegetables are very high ( 2-40%). About 10-15 % freshfruits and vegetables shrivel and stale, lowering their market value and consumeracceptability. Minimizing these losses can increase their supply without bringing additionalland under cultivation. It will also help keep pollution under control. Improper handling andstorage cause physical damages due to tissue breakdown. Mechanical losses includebruising, cracking , cuts, microbial, spoilage by fungi and bacteria, whereas physiologicallosses include changes in respiration , transpiration, pigments , organic acids and flavour.About 36% of vegetables decay due to soft-rot bacteria, whereas 30% of fruits decay due toPenicillium species. The losses can be minimized by proper pre and post harvest treatments.
1) Selection of Varieties:
Varieties with higher yield, better keeping quality, slower ripening and longer shelf-lifeunder ambient condition and better processing quality should be developed andcommercially grown.
2) Cultural Operations:
Cultural operations help prolong shelf-life of fruits and vegetables. Pruning or thinningincrease the fruit size and decrease TSS and acidity. The postharvest quality of citrus fruitsincrease significantly when Trifoliate orange, tangelo or Cleopatra are used as root stock.Quality of fruits is improved by the application of K, Mg and Zn , while higher N and Pdeteriorate the quality. Excessive irrigation before harvesting decreases the shelf-life andsensory quality, while insufficient irrigation enhances the maturity of the crop .For root crops, preparation of the soil to a tilth of porous nature is necessary to avoid rootforking. Irregular irrigation causes cracking of carrot and radish and splitting of outer scalesof onions. In onion and garlic, irrigation should be stopped 3 weeks before harvesting toensure better keeping quality. Heavy application of nitrogenous fertilizers causes fastertissue deterioration, while essential supply of ‘Kim-proves’ keeping quality of vegetables.Molybdenum –efficiency in cabbage cause heart –rot, manganese deficiency in peas leads tomarsh spots and excessive irrigation and fertilization cause hollow heart in potato.
3. Pre-harvest Treatments:
Postharvest shelf-life of fruits and vegetables is improved by pre-harvest application of chemicals. Three spray of Topsin-M (0.1%) or Bavistin ( 0.1%) at 15 days interval beforeharvesting can control anthracnose and stem – end rot in mango. Similarly, postharvestdecay of Nagpur mandarins can be controlled by 3 pre-harvest sprays of 0.1% Ben late or