In the field of agriculture, when we talk about postharvest handling, we talk about the stage of crop production right after harvest. It includes the following stages:
Having knowledge in postharvest biology and technology is crucial in determining the final quality of the produce whether it is sold fresh for consumption or used as ingredients for processed food products.
Since fresh fruits, vegetables and ornamentals are all composed of living tissues, it is normal for them to undergo changes. Most of these changes may not be desirable in the consumer’s standpoint.
In this article, we will enumerate the biological factors involved in the deterioration of produce.
Fruits and vegetables store organic materials such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats. These organic components are all subject to a process called respiration. In respiration, these organic materials are broken down into simple end products with a release of energy.
This rate or respiration is directly proportionate to the rate of deterioration or perishability. It’s a good idea to know the respiration rate of each crop to identify which ones perish the fastest.
2. Ethylene Production
The production of ethylene increases with maturity at harvest. When crops are placed on lower temperatures, however, the production rate of ethylene is reduced.
3. Changes in Composition
Loss of Chlorophyll
4. Continuous Transpiration
Transpiration or water loss is a primary cause of deterioration because it affects not only the weight but also the appearance of produce.
5. Physiological Disorders
After harvest, the crops can be exposed to undesirable temperature and physical damage.
Impact & Vibration bruising
6. Pathological Damage
One of the most common symptom of perishability comes from activity of bacteria and fungi. There are some cases where pathogens infect healthy plants and become the cause of deterioration
7. Abiotic Factors
There are also environmental factors inducing deterioration.