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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Wenatchee, Washington » Physiology and Pathology of Tree Fruits Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #381477

Research Project: Enhancement of Apple, Pear, and Sweet Cherry Quality

Location: Physiology and Pathology of Tree Fruits Research

Title: Characterization and quantification of postharvest losses of apple fruit stored under commercial conditions

item ARGENTA, LUIZ - Epagri
item DE FREITAS, SERGIO - Embrapa
item Mattheis, James
item VIEIRA, MARCELO - Fischer S/a Agroindustria
item OGOSHI, CLAUDIO - Epagri

Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/23/2021
Publication Date: 5/3/2021
Citation: Argenta, L.C., de Freitas, S.T., Mattheis, J.P., Vieira, M.J., Ogoshi, C. 2021. Characterization and quantification of postharvest losses of apple fruit stored under commercial conditions. HortScience. 56(5):608-616.

Interpretive Summary: Apples are stored for many months after harvest allowing marketing over an extended time period. This is due in large part to storage technologies that slow fruit ripening thus preserving appearance and edibility for many months. However, there is risk of apples developing physiological disorders such as peel or internal browning as well as becoming decayed due to fungal pathogens. Disorders and decay render fruit unmarketable, and to what degree apple fruit losses are the result of these issues in commercial warehouses is not well known. An ARS scientist collaborated with scientists in Brazil to assess apple fruit losses in commercial storages. The multiyear study showed losses vary among years but can approach nearly 30%, a loss that severely reduces grower returns. The study also suggests yearly temperature and rainfall prior to harvest may be associated with the risk of fruit loss.

Technical Abstract: Quantification and characterization of apple fruit postharvest losses have previously been reported in the literature, however, there are a limited number of studies conducted under commercial conditions. These studies can help guide future research to control losses and ultimately to improve efficiency of the apple fruit industry. The objectives of this study were to characterize and quantify postharvest losses of apples under commercial conditions in Santa Catarina state, Brazil. Two experiments were conducted using ‘Gala’ and ‘Fuji’ apples. The first experiment was to characterize and quantify the most important causes of loss of fruit treated or not treated with 1-MCP then held in controlled atmosphere (CA) storage followed by shelf life. This experiment was conducted in commercial storage facilities from 2007 to 2010. In each year, twenty samples of approximately 380 kg each for ‘Gala’ and 400 kg each for ‘Fuji’ were collected from bins of commercially harvested fruit from each of 15 ‘Gala’ and 17 ‘Fuji’ orchards. Half of the samples from each orchard were treated with 1-MCP at harvest. Fruit were stored in CA, at 0.7oC, for 150 to 300 days. After storage, one sub-sample of 100 disorder-free apples were selected from each sample and held at 22°C for seven days to simulate shelf life conditions. The fruit were analyzed after CA storage and shelf life conditions for the incidence of fungal decay and physiological disorders. The second experiment was conducted in 2011 to identify the main fungi causing decay during storage. In this study, apples were stored in ten commercial CA storage rooms at 0.7oC for 180 to 240 days. After storage, fruit with decay symptoms were collected at the commercial sorting line. A total of ten-samples of 100 decayed apples were taken throughout the sorting period for each cultivar and storage room. The pathogenic fungi were identified by visual symptoms on each fruit. Total apple losses during storage varied from 3.9% to 12.1% for ‘Gala’ and 6.6 to 8.4% for ‘Fuji’, depending on the year and 1-MCP treatment. During storage, deterioration caused by fungal decay was approximately 60% and 80% of total losses for ‘Gala’ and ‘Fuji’, respectively. During shelf life, additional losses caused by fungal decay ranged from 8.4% to 17.6% for ‘Gala’ and 12.4% to 27.2% for ‘Fuji’, depending on the year. Senescent breakdown and superficial scald were the majority of physiological disorder incidence. 1-MCP treatment had no effect on losses due to decay. Bull’s-eye rot, blue mold, gray mold and alternaria rot were the most prevalent fungal decay symptoms, accounting for 52%, 27%, 9% and 10% of ‘Gala’ losses and 42%, 25%, 18% and 5% of ‘Fuji’ losses, respectively. Sources of variability for losses among years and orchards is discussed.