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The effect of pre-and postharvest calcium applications on the postharvest quality of Pinkerton avocados

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Abstract

One of the problems facing South African avocado producers is that of poor postharvest quality in avocado fruit. This is extremely evident in fruit which has been stored at low temperatures and is particularly acute in the Pinkerton cultivar. Research in avocados, as well as other crops, has shown that internal fruit disorders are directly related to low fruit calcium levels. Despite a large amount of evidence for this relationship, little has been done to address this problem in avocados. In order to rectify this situation, a trial was set up to establish the effects of both preharvest and postharvest calcium applications on the quality of Pinkerton avocados. What distinguishes this trial from similar work in the past is the use of new calcium products formulated specifically for maximum uptake and translocation, with a minimum of phytotoxicity. The series of trials carried out this season indicates that a number of benefits are to be derived from calcium applications. These include firmer fruit, a reduction in both external and internal physiological disorders and a decline in certain pathological disorders. However, the work also indicates that other factors play a role in fruit quality and that these factors may override the advantages derived from calcium applications. One such factor is fruit maturity. The work indicated that preharvest applications are more effective early on in the development of the fruit rather than just before harvest. It was also seen that postharvest calcium applications can provide a means for improving fruit quality. While there is still considerable work to be done in this field, it has been shown that calcium applications provide a practical and effective means of improving avocado quality.
South African Avocado Growers’ Association Yearbook 2000. 23:1-7
The effect of pre- and postharvest calcium applications on the
postharvest quality of Pinkerton avocados
MG Penter and PJC Stassen
Institute for Tropical and Subtropical Crops, Private Bag X11208, Nelspruit 1200
ABSTRACT
One of the problems facing South African avocado producers is that of poor postharvest
quality in avocado fruit. This is extremely evident in fruit which has been stored at low
temperatures and is particularly acute in the Pinkerton cultivar. Research in avocados,
as well as other crops, has shown that internal fruit disorders are directly related to low
fruit calcium levels. Despite a large amount of evidence for this relationship, little has
been done to address this problem in avocados. In order to rectify this situation, a trial
was set up to establish the effects of both preharvest and postharvest calcium
applications on the quality of Pinkerton avocados. What distinguishes this trial from
similar work in the past is the use of new calcium products formulated specifically for
maximum uptake and translocation, with a minimum of phytotoxicity.
The series of trials carried out this season indicates that a number of benefits are to be
derived from calcium applications. These include firmer fruit, a reduction in both external
and internal physiological disorders and a decline in certain pathological disorders.
However, the work also indicates that other factors play a role in fruit quality and that
these factors may override the advantages derived from calcium applications. One such
factor is fruit maturity. The work indicated that preharvest applications are more
effective early on in the development of the fruit rather than just before harvest. It was
also seen that postharvest calcium applications can provide a means for improving fruit
quality. While there is still considerable work to be done in this field, it has been shown
that calcium applications provide a practical and effective means of improving avocado
quality.
INTRODUCTION
The Pinkerton cultivar is one of contrasting properties. On the one hand, it has a
naturally compact growth which allows for higher density plantings and for easy
maintenance in normal plantings. It has good fruit size and gives average yields of
around 20 t/ha compared to an industry average of 8 -12 t/ha in other cultivars. On the
other hand, it has an extended flowering period which results in a crop containing fruit
with a variety of maturity stages. It also has a considerable problem with postharvest
disorders. These problems may well be related.
The primary disorder occurring in postharvest fruit is a discoloration of the mesocarp,
referred to as grey pulp. This condition is aggravated by cold storage — a necessary
requirement for fruit destined for the export market. This condition is not unique to
avocados — discoloration and internal breakdown of fruit flesh has been recorded for a
wide variety of both tropical and subtropical, as well as deciduous fruits. There are a
number of factors that play a role in fruit quality but a review of the literature indicates
that, in many instances, nutrient deficiencies are a major culprit.
It has been known since the mid-1800's that a wide range of internal fruit and vegetable
disorders are of a physiological nature, but it was only in the 1930's and 1940's that
these were directly associated with low calcium levels (Shear, 1975). Since then, low
calcium levels have been positively linked with disorders such as bitter pit, cork spot,
internal breakdown and lenticel breakdown in apples; blossom-end rot in tomatoes,
watermelons and peppers; blackheart in celery; internal browning in Brussels sprouts
and cracking in cherries and prunes — as summed up in a review of this topic by Shear
(1975). These are just a few of the 35 or so disorders listed in this review.
Calcium has a number of vital roles in plant tissues, but for the purpose of this
discussion two of these roles are of particular interest:
1. Calcium increases membrane stability
2. Calcium increases cell wall strength (Poovaiah et al., 1988).
As pointed out by Kirkby and Pilbeam (1984), tissues high in calcium have stronger cell
walls, are firmer and resist infection more readily. These authors also point out that lack
of adequate calcium leads to browning of tissues. This can occur for two reasons.
Firstly, membranes in such tissues become less stable, allowing vacuolar substrates —
specifically ortho-dioxy-phenols — to leak into other compartments where they undergo
catalytic oxidation (via polypheno oxidase) and polymerisation, to form the polyphenols
which give these tissues their typical brown appearance (van Rensburg & Engelbrecht,
1986; Bangerth et al., 1972). At the same time, calcium may act to chelate phenolics
and prevent their oxidation (DeKock et al., 1975 as quoted in Kirkby & Pilbeam, 1984).
Most of the above-mentioned work on calcium related internal disorders has been
carried out in deciduous crops. However, the tropical and subtropical crops are
receiving more attention, with a considerable amount of literature being available —
particularly for mangoes. This work has shown a definite correlation between low
calcium levels and internal breakdown in mango fruit (Young & Miner, 1961; Singh et
al., 1993; Hermoso et al., 1996). A number of authors have also investigated the
relationship between low calcium levels and internal disorders in avocado fruit—
particularly those disorders related to chilling injury in stored fruit. This work (reviewed
by Bower & Cutting, 1988) indicates that low calcium levels may play a role in the
internal disorders seen in avocados. A comprehensive survey of avocado orchards in
New Zealand has shown a strong correlation between low calcium and a high incidence
of postharvest vascular browning and flesh browning. This same survey showed that
late-harvested fruit had lower calcium levels and more internal disorders (Thorp et al.,
1997). Cutting et al., (1992) have also established a relationship between late
harvesting, low calcium and poor postharvest quality in South African fruit. These
relationships between calcium and fruit quality also hold for individual fruits — Chaplin
and Scott (1980) showed that internal disorders generally start in the distal end of
individual avocado fruits where calcium levels are at their lowest.
It must be noted that the availability of calcium in soils is seldom a limiting factor —
most soils contain sufficient calcium to meet the plant's nutritional requirements. The
problem of calcium deficiency is more often due to poor distribution of calcium in plants
once uptake has occurred (Bangerth, 1979; Kirkby, 1979). This is the reason why
deficiency symptoms can occur even in plants growing on calcium-rich soils. It is also
the reason why plants with good leaf calcium levels can exhibit fruit deficiency disorders
(Bangerth, 1979). It must also be remembered that calcium is transported primarily via
the xylem (Bangerth, 1979). Thus, rapidly transpiring organs — such as leaves — have
greater access to calcium from the roots than organs such as fruit (Kirkby & Pilbeam,
1984). This preferential transport via the xylem also means that redistribution of calcium
from leaves to other organs is relatively low, since transport out of plant organs is
primarily via the phloem.
While the role of calcium in fruit quality and senescence is now well established,
correcting the disorders that occur as a result of calcium deficiency is not
straightforward. In fact, calcium nutrition has been described as the most complex
problem in fruit nutrition (Faust, 1979). This is due to the fact that absolute calcium
values are not as important as the balance between calcium and other minerals —
including N, B, Mg, K, Zn and P. Furthermore, factors such as light levels, pruning, fruit
size, crop load and auxin levels affect calcium nutrition (Ferguson, 1984; Monselise &
Goren, 1987).
A number of researchers have shown that postharvest calcium applications in
avocados, which give higher fruit calcium levels, result in lower respiration and ethylene
production rates. These treatments also give better fruit quality and longer ripening
times (Tingwa & Young, 1974; Wills & Tirmazi, 1982; Eaks, 1985). Furthermore, Van
Rensburg and Engelbrecht (1985) have shown that postharvest calcium applications
decrease the levels of the components responsible for flesh browning. Many of these
trials have made use of postharvest calcium applications, whereby fruit is vacuum
infiltrated with various calcium salts — a procedure which is not practical on a
commercial scale.
An alternative to postharvest infiltration is to apply calcium as foliar sprays in the
orchard. To date, very little work has been done on preharvest spray applications of
calcium in avocados. Work in other crops suggests that the use of standard CaCI2 and
CaNO3 sprays can improve postharvest fruit quality. However, both of these materials
have certain problems — particularly phytotoxicity at higher rates (Wooldridge &
Joubert, 1997). Where this approach has been tried in avocados, it met with little
success (Veldman, 1983). Part of the reason for these poor results is that calcium salts
are not readily taken up, and that once in the leaves not much transport towards the fruit
occurs.
A possible solution to this problem is the availability of a range of new organically
complexed calcium products. These products have been formulated to give excellent
uptake and minimal phytotoxicity. A further advantage is that the organic compounds to
which the calcium is attached are readily transported within plant tissues — along with
the attached calcium. One of these products (Calcimax), tested in apples and plums
(Wooldridge & Joubert, 1997) significantly improved postharvest quality in both of these
crops. Another product, tested as a postharvest application in melons, increased the
shelf life of these fruits from 10 to 24 days (Lester & Grusak, 1999).
The current trial was set up to examine the effects of several of these new products on
the postharvest quality of Pinkerton avocados, and to compare preharvest and
postharvest applications of the products.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Preharvest applications
This trial was carried out at three sites:
A. Weirich farm, Kiepersol
B. ITSC orchard, Nelspruit
C. HL Hall and Sons, Nelspruit
Unfortunately, hail destroyed the trial at Hall’s and therefore produced no data.
A. KIEPERSOL TRIAL
Treatments were as follows:
1. Control
2. Calcium Dextrolac 2L/ha
3. Calcimax 0.5%
4. Basfoliar Calcium 4.5L/ha
5. Caltrac 4L/ha
Application rates were approximately 1000L/ha of spray solution. Wetter was used (Nu
Film) at 15ml/100L each treatment was subdivided into three further treatments:
1. Early season sprays (3 x sprays)
2. Preharvest spray (1 x spray)
3. Early season + preharvest sprays (total 4 x sprays)
Early season sprays were applied at full flower, fruit set and 2 weeks after set.
Preharvest sprays were applied two weeks before harvest. After harvest, fruit were
washed, waxed and stored at 6°C for 21 days. They were then ripened at room
temperature and evaluated.
B. NELSPRUIT TRIAL
Treatments were:
1. Control
2. Caltrac 4L/ha
3. Calcimax 1%
4. Calcium Metalosate 4L/ha
In total, three applications were made at a rate of 1000 L/ha with Nu Film added at
15ml/100L. Applications were:
1. At flowering
2. At fruit set
3. Four weeks after fruit set.
At harvest, fruit were picked according to age. One set was picked at a moisture content
of 72 - 74% and the other at 75 - 78%. Fruit was washed, waxed and stored at 6°C for
21 days. They were then ripened at room temperature and evaluated.
Postharvest applications
This trial was set up using Pinkerton fruit from the Weirich estate, Kiepersol. Treatments
were incorporated into the standard postharvest protocols as follows:
1. Wash in HTH bath
2. Rinse in water
3. Imbibe for 10 minutes in calcium treatment
4. Allow to air dry
5. Wax fruit
6. Store at 6°C for 21 days
7. Ripen at room temperature and evaluate
Treatment solutions were as follows:
1. Control - water
2. Calcimax – 25ml in 10L
3. Stopit-25 ml in 10L
4. Ca Metalosate - 50ml in 10L
5. Ca Dextrolac-50ml in 10L
6. Basfoliar Ca - 15.57ml in 10L All of the above equate to 0.25g Ca/L.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Preharvest applications
A. KIEPERSOL TRIAL
Before discussing specific data for this trial, it must be noted that all of the data sets
here showed considerable variation. It would appear that some factor other than
calcium had an affect on fruit quality in this trial. Work done by Kruger et al., (in press) in
these orchards indicates that fruit maturity was the primary factor affecting fruit quality,
with calcium status playing a secondary role. The data indicates that application timing
had a significant effect, with early season sprays always giving better fruit quality than
late season sprays. Figure 1 shows that early season calcium applications (both alone
and combined with late applications) give a lower incidence of grey pulp in stored fruit.
While there were no statistically significant differences, early Calcimax applications
almost halved the incidence of grey pulp. Figure 2 indicates that early season
applications also reduce the seventy of grey pulp within individual fruits.
In the case of the Calcimax application, this reduction was statistically significant. A
rather unexpected result in this trial was a reduction in the severity of anthracnose
where calcium applications were made (Fig. 3).
It was noted that early season applications of Calcimax and Caltrac significantly
reduced the severity of anthracnose. In addition to grey pulp, another physiological
disorder encountered in cold-stored avocados is black cold injury. Figure 4 shows that
eight of the twelve calcium applications tested in this trial totally eliminate this disorder.
Compared to the 9% incidence in the control fruit, this is a significant result. The results
show that in most cases, combined applications are less successful than either early or
late applications.
B. NELSPRUIT TRIAL
In this trial mature fruit was separated from less mature fruit prior to evaluation. This
was done in order to establish whether fruit maturity interacts with calcium status to
determine fruit quality. It was clearly shown that younger fruit tend to have better
internal quality than older fruit. Figure 5 shows that younger fruit in every treatment had
a lower incidence of grey pulp than older fruit. However, only the Calcimax application
to young fruit gave better quality than the controls.
Figure 6 shows that some calcium applications can also have an effect on fruit ripening.
It can be seen that several treatments gave fruit that were firmer than control fruit.
However, this improvement was only statistically significant in the case of Calcimax
applications to younger fruit.
The above data indicates that while preharvest calcium applications can improve fruit
quality, other factors also play a role. It was shown that fruit maturity has a definite
effect, and that allowing fruit to become over-mature may well cancel any benefits
derived from calcium applications. However, where fruit is harvested at the correct
maturity, calcium confers a number of benefits. The first of these is an increase in fruit
firmness relative to controls. This leads to benefits such as slower ripening and
increased shelf life. This is in agreement with the findings of Bangerth (1979) who
concluded that calcium confers increased firmness, reduced respiration, delayed
ripening, extended storage life and a reduction in storage rot.
The data in this trial also agrees with the findings of Bangerth (1979) in that a
considerable reduction in rot due to anthracnose was found. This is also in agreement
with Kirkby and Pilbeam (1984), who pointed out that tissues high in calcium have
stronger cell walls, are firmer and resist infection more readily.
Another benefit arising from calcium applications was an improvement in internal
quality, with Calcimax giving reductions in both the occurrence and severity of grey
pulp. These results contrast with those of Veldman (1983) who obtained no
improvement in avocado fruit quality with as many as six sprays of CaNO3. However,
this can be attributed to the difference in calcium source. Where Calcimax has been
used in apples (Wooldridge & Joubert, 1997), considerable improvements in both shelf
life and fruit quality have been derived — much more so than the benefits derived from
CaNO3 and CaCl2. This indicates that chelated calcium products are more effective than
CaNO3, probably due to more efficient uptake and translocation of the product. Another
advantage to using chelated products is their safety — even high application rates — up
to 4 times the recommended rate — give no phytotoxicity (pers. com., K. Stoll). This is
in direct contrast to the phytotoxicity experienced with high rates of CaNO3 and CaCI2.
Postharvest applications
The postharvest trial indicated a definite role for calcium in postharvest quality. In fact,
these postharvest applications in general gave better results than the preharvest
applications. Figure 7 show that all of the products tested gave firmer fruit than the
controls after 21 days of cold storage.
Four of these five treatments were statistically significantly better than the controls. In
addition to this, all treatments reduced the incidence of grey pulp by more than 50%
(Fig. 8).
The best treatment (Calcimax) reduced the incidence from 52% to just 8%.
Furthermore, several of the products reduced the incidence of lenticel damage (Fig. 9)
and anthracnose infection (Fig. 10). Again, it seems that calcium has a role in
strengthening cell walls and this helps to prevent infection.
This result is in agreement with the work carried out by Tingwa and Young (1974) and
Wills and Tirmazi (1982). In both cases, these workers showed that calcium applications
give better quality and longer ripening times in avocados. The difference between this
trial and previous postharvest trials is the ease of application. In the past, postharvest
calcium applications involved either long incubation times or vacuum infiltration of fruit.
The current trial attempted to move away from such protocols as they are not practically
applicable in commercial packhouses. In this regard the complexed calcium products
are much more versatile — they allow good uptake in relatively short periods of time.
This is confirmed by the findings of Lester and Grusak (1999), who used Calcium
Metalosate for postharvest treatments of melons. These authors found that postharvest
dips extended the shelf life of melons from 10 days to 24 days. Such increases in shelf
life allow more time for the shipping of fruit to export markets, as well as more time for
the marketing of fruit once it reaches its destination.
Thus there is definitely a role for both preharvest and postharvest calcium applications
in the avocado industry. However, there are still a number of problems to be solved.
One such problem is the large volume of fruit handled by the packhouses, and the
practical implications of these volumes receiving postharvest treatments. It is hoped that
these problems can be addressed in the forthcoming season.
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CUTTING, J.G., WOLSTENHOLME, B.N. AND HARDY, J. 1992. Increasing relative
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... This has previously been observed in mango [3,32] and guava fruits [11]. Because calcium is more available during the early stages of fruit development, spraying calcium chloride at maturity was more effective than spraying 15 days later in slowing soluble solids accumulation [3,33]. ...
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INTRODUCTION While a number of factors play a role a role in fruit quality, many instances of poor quality can be related back to deficiencies of certain minerals during fruit development. Although a range of minerals have an effect on fruit development and quality, the one that has received the most attention in this field is calcium. It was first shown in the 1930's and 1940's that low calcium levels were directly associated with a variety of internal disorders in certain fruits and vegetables (Shear, 1975). Since then, low calcium levels have been positively linked with disorders such as bitter pit, cork spot, internal breakdown and lenticel breakdown in apples; blossom-end rot in tomatoes, watermelons and peppers; blackheart in celery; internal browning in Brussels sprouts and cracking in cherries and prunes – as summed up in a review of this topic by Shear (1975).
... Calcium compounds have been shown to enhance post harvest shelf life of mango [4,5,6] peach [7], guava [8], and avocado [9] fruits. However, excessive application of calcium may lead to inferior eating quality [10]. ...
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Mango (Mangifera indica L.) is a highly perishable fruit with a short shelf life at ambient conditions, which may lead to post-harvest losses approximated to be 40-45%. This reduces returns to farmers significantly. The problem is compounded by the fact that most farmers do not have access to cold storage facilities. Nutrient management has been shown to affect postharvest characteristics of fruits. Calcium particularly plays a critical role in cell membrane integrity, tissue firmness and delays lipid catabolism. Previous studies have indicated a deficiency of calcium in some mango growing regions in Kenya. A field study was carried out to determine the effect of varied calcium formulations applied at various stages of growth on mango fruits post-harvest quality and organoleptic acceptability. The study was carried out in Embu County Eastern Kenya during seasons 2017/2018 and 2018 /2019 using "Van Dyke" cultivar, aged approximately 10 years. The experiment was set up in a randomized complete block design with a split-split plot arrangement, three trees per replication, replicated thrice. Three calcium formulations: calcium chloride, calcium nitrate and Easygro™ were applied at rates of 0%,1.0%, 1.5% and 2.0% at fruit set, 30 days after fruit set and 30 days to physiological maturity. The calcium sources formed the main plots, the timing of application formed the subplots while the rates of application formed the sub-sub plots. Total soluble solids (TSS) and percentage titratable acidity (TA) were assessed at harvest and after 12 days of storage under ambient conditions (25±2ºC, 70±5% relative humidity) using standard procedures. Selected fruits' sensory attributes were also evaluated after storage using a hedonic scale. Analysis of data was done using the 14 th Edition of the Genstat software. The differences among the means of the treatments were compared using Fisher's Protected LSD test at 5% probability level. Fruits sprayed with calcium chloride, 2.0% at fruit set had higher TSS (6.8 º brix and 6.3º brix) (10.47 º brix and 9.10 º brix), TA (1.29% and 1.27%), (0.77% and 0.675%) than other treatments at maturity and after storage in both seasons, respectively. Calcium chloride at 2.0% level of application led to a superior peel color appearance contrary to calcium nitrate and Easygro™ also applied at 2.0%, which led to an inferior peel color appearance and an inferior taste of fruits. Therefore, calcium nitrate and easy gro should be sprayed at concentration of 1.5% for good taste and peel colour appearance.
... This reinforces the fact that calcium is more available at early stages of fruit development. Similar findings on the availability of calcium at early stages have been reported by Amin et al. (2007), Karemera et al. (2013) and Bitange et al. (2019) in mango fruits and Penter et al. (2000) in avocado fruits. ...
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Jelly seed is a major challenge in mango production leading to enormous losses in the value chain. This internal fruit disorder is characterised by disintegration of cells, consistency of jelly and broken cells. Calcium plays an important role in enhancing tissue stability and firmness thus reducing cell disintegration. A two-year field study was conducted in Embu County, Kenya using 'Van Dyke' cultivar trees of approximately 10 years old. The objective of the study was to investigate the effect of varied sources of calcium, applied at different rates and timing on jelly seed occurrence and tissue calcium distribution. Calcium in the form of calcium chloride, calcium nitrate and easygro ® were applied at 1.0 %, 1.5 %, 2.0 % or 0 % (control) at three stages of fruit development (fruit set, 30 days after fruit set and 30 days to anticipated physiological maturity). The experiment was set up in a randomised complete block design with a split-split arrangement replicated three times. Fruits were harvested at physiological maturity and ripened at ambient conditions (28 ± 1°C, 75-80 RH). Data collected included: jelly seed occurrence, calcium distribution (exocarp, mesocarp, endocarp and cotyledon) and fruit weight. Jelly seed occurrence and calcium distribution were determined at ripe stage. All the calcium sources invariably suppressed the occurrence of jelly seed. Calcium chloride (2.0 %) applied at fruit set had the lowest average jelly seed score of 1.2 and 2 in seasons I and II respectively. There was a significant negative relationship between fruit weight (r = − 0.55, r = − 0.52), calcium content in the exocarp (r = − 0.56, r = − 0.49), mesocarp (r = − 0.52, r = − 0.76), endocarp (r = − 0.76, r = − 0.66) and jelly seed incidence occurrence. This suggested that calcium has a role in alleviating jelly seed disorder. Application of calcium at fruit set was more effective in suppressing jelly seed occurrence than later applications. Calcium chloride (2.0 %) applied at fruit set was more effective in reducing jelly seed occurrence. There is need to study further on soil based calcium and other calcium formulations on the effects on jelly seed occurrence.
... Their effectiveness could further be improved by their use as preharvest treatments, where several studies showed their effectiveness extended after harvest to control decay (Youssef et al., 2012;Feliziani and Romanazzi, 2013a). Preharvest treatments with GRAS compounds reduced decay on strawberries (Romanazzi et al., 2013), table grapes (Nigro et al., 2006;Chervin et al., 2009;Li et al., 2009;Feliziani et al., 2013b), apples (Biggs et al., 1993), stone fruits (Biggs et al., 1997), mangoes (Singh et al., 1993), and other horticultural crops (Brown et al., 1996;Penter and Stassen, 2000;Plitch and Wójcik, 2002;Sivakumar et al., 2002;Nolla et al., 2006;Goutam et al., 2010;Bosse et al., 2011;Wójcik et al., 2014). The lack of protective activity is one of the major limitations of LTCs for commercial applications, especially when treated products are rinsed after treatment to minimize phytotoxicity. ...
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Mushrooms are characterized by a very short shelf life and browning, weight-loss and microbial infections are known as the most deteriorating postharvest modifications in the mushrooms, leading to notable economic losses. In this study, the effects of some postharvest treatments including calcium chloride (0.30 and 0.45%), ascorbic acid (1, 2 and 3 mM) and hydrogen peroxide (1%) on increasing mushroom shelf life were evaluated. Mushrooms were dipped in the solution treatments for 2 min, then dried at room temperature and packed in polyethylene container by cellophane cover and were stored at 4°C. Some qualitative and quantitative parameters were measured on 8th and 16th days of storage. Results showed that, 0.45% CaCl2, as well as 2 and 3 mM ascorbic acid and 1% peroxide hydrogen effectively maintained mushrooms marketability and kept the cap closed. CaCl2 treatment was effective in extending the postharvest life of mushrooms due to reducing weight loss, maintaining firmness, reducing electrolyte leakage and lowering bacterial populations. Ascorbic acid was an effective treatment in reducing the weight loss, electrolyte leakage, bacterial populations and, thereby, maintaining the firmness. Hydrogen peroxide treatment improved the postharvest quality of mushrooms only through reducing bacterial populations.
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Muskmelon senescence is directly associated with a decline in hypodermal mesocarp membrane integrity and its Ca concentration, but infusing Ca into melons has been a problem. Fully ripened and abscised hybrid honeydew [Cucumis melo L. (Inodorus Group) 'Honey Brew'] and netted muskmelon [Cucumis melo L. (Reticulatus Group) 'Explorer'] fruit were submerged (dipped) 20 min at 25 ± 3 °C in a solution containing a Ca-chelate, a Mg-chelate, a combination of both chelates, or no mineral chelate. Following 10 or 24 days of cold storage (4 °C for 'Explorer' and 10 °C for 'Honey Brew'), fruit were analyzed for mineral content and various senescence-related parameters. Abscised 'Honey Brew' fruit dipped in either Ca-chelate or (Ca+Mg)-chelate and abscised 'Explorer' fruit dipped in (Ca+Mg)-chelate, followed by 10 days cold storage, had hypodermal mesocarp Ca concentrations of at least 6.0 mg · g-1 dry weight. Maintaining hypodermal mesocarp tissue Ca concentrations at this level during postharvest storage, especially for fully ripe 'Honey Brew' fruit, maintained membrane integrity and fruit firmness, and extended storage life 2.4-fold (i.e., to 24 days). The senescence regulatory effect of postharvest Ca-chelate treatments on abscised 'Explorer' was highly variable, compared to 'Honey Brew', which appeared to be due to the surface netting interfering with movement of Ca into the hypodermal mesocarp. Thus, postharvest Ca-chelate application to abscised 'Honey Brew' fruit could delay fruit senescence in commercial storage, and open up new markets for fully ripened honeydew melons.