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  Eur.J.Hortic.Sci. 80 (1) 11-17 | DOI: 10.17660/eJHS.2015/80.1.2
ISSN 1611-4426 print and 1611-4434 online | © ISHS 2015 | European Journal of Horticultural Science | Original article

Post-harvest retention of apple fruit firmness by 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) treatment or dynamic CA storage with chlorophyll fluorescence (DCA-CF)

A. Zanella and O. Rossi
Laimburg Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry, Auer (Ora), BZ, Italy

Over a period of 6 years, fruits of the six most commonly grown apple cultivars in Europe (‘Braeburn’, ‘Cripps Pink’, ‘Fuji’, ‘Gala’, ‘Golden Delicious’, ‘Red Delicious’) were harvested at the same site on 3 successive dates, at beginning, mid and end of the optimal harvest window (OHW), and stored in controlled atmosphere for 5 to 7.5 months under ULO (at 1 kPa O2 and 1 or 1.5 kPa CO2) and/or CA (at 1.5 kPa O2 and 1 or 1.3 kPa CO2) storage conditions with and without prior exposure to 1-MCP (SmartFreshTM). In addition, fruit samples were exposed to the novel DCA-CF storage technique with dynamic O2 < 0.7 kPa level guided by chlorophyll fluorescence sensing. The fruit firmness differences obtained by means of 1-MCP or DCA-CF were compared using untreated ULO and/or CA-stored fruits as reference, directly after storage and also after a subsequent ‘shelf-life’ period of 7 days, at 20°C. At the end of the storage period, results varied depending on the cultivar and the reference conditions. The highest efficacy of the more advanced storage techniques (1-MCP or DCA-CF), compared to ULO, in increasing fruit firmness was observed on the cultivar ‘Golden Delicious’. Both techniques resulted in increased fruit firmness also on ‘Braeburn’, but on this cultivar DCA-CF storage proved to be more effective than the 1-MCP treatment. 1-MCPtreated and untreated ‘Red Delicious’ fruits were exposed to both reference storage conditions, CA and ULO. Only when fruits were compared to the sub-optimal CA storage condition, noticeable differences emerged, with both the innovative techniques providing a considerable increase in fruit firmness. On ‘Cripps Pink’, both, the 1-MCP treatment and DCA-CF storage, increased fruit firmness, while on ‘Fuji’ and ‘Gala’ firmness got only slightly increased in comparison to the reference storage condition (ULO). Among fruits harvested at different ripening stages no considerable differences in the gain of fruit firmness obtained by the means of the novel storage methods emerged, for none of the cultivars.

Keywords Malus × domestica, controlled atmosphere, chlorophyll fluorescence, 1-methylcyclopropene, dynamic controlled atmosphere, fruit firmness

Significance of this study

What is already known on this subject?

  • In order to preserve in the long-term one of the most important quality traits of apple fruit -pulp firmness-, CA storage is applied: at ultra low oxygen level; dynamic CA by means of chlorophyll fluorescence or 1-MCP. These technologies have diverse impact, depending mainly on cultivar, maturity, season, duration.
What are the new findings?
  • A systematic confrontation at comparable conditions during 6 seasons allows to assess the impact of high end storage technologies, mainly dynamic CA (DCACF) and 1-MCP (SmartFreshTM), with optimal CA as the reference, on fruit firmness of 6 most common apple cultivars.
What is the expected impact on horticulture?
  • Robust postharvest data from different seasons and maturity degrees of 6 apple cultivars give an insight on the influence of low oxygen or of ethylene action inhibition on apple fruit softening, presenting an overview on the impact and efficacy of high end storage technologies, such as DCA-CF or SmartFreshTM.

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Received: 2 December 2013 | Accepted: 5 August 2014 | Published: 26 February 2015 | Available online: 26 February 2015

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