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POSTHARVEST HANDLING OF CUCUMBERS. WHAT IS CUCUMBER?. Cucumis sativus L. of Cucurbitaceae family. Plant of tropical origin (India?) Relative of melons, pumpkins, squashes, watermelons In contrast to most of them – harvested immature (young)

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POSTHARVEST HANDLING OF CUCUMBERS

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Postharvest handling of cucumbers

POSTHARVEST HANDLING OF

CUCUMBERS


Postharvest handling of cucumbers

WHAT IS CUCUMBER?

Cucumis sativus L. of Cucurbitaceae family.

Plant of tropical origin (India?)

Relative of melons, pumpkins, squashes, watermelons

In contrast to most of them – harvested immature (young)

Greenhouse cucumbers: parthenocarpic, develop without pollination. Smooth tender skin, eaten without peeling

Types of greenhouse cucumbers: European (or Dutch, English) type – long and Beit-Alpha type (Israeli origin) – short. Beit Alpha type gives 2-3 times higher yield than the Dutch type, and better fruit quality (but the Dutch tends to be more resistant to powdery mildew).

Dutch type

Beit-Alpha type


Postharvest handling of cucumbers

Postharvest biology of cucumber = Postharvest problems of cucumber

Immature fruit: tends to continue the development → yellowing,change of texture and taste

Senescence-related changes in cucumbers

SENSITIVE TO ETHYLENE!NOT TO BE KEPT WITH ETHYLENE-PRODUCING COMMODITIES: TOMATOES, AVOCADO, BANANA, APPLE, PEAR, FIG, MELON, etc.


Postharvest handling of cucumbers

Tender skin: tends to

easily lose water →

SENSITIVE TO DESICCATION

Shriveling

AIR HUMIDITY IS IMPORTANT: 90-95%

WHY NOT HIGHER?Water condensation favors disease development.

SENSITIVE TO POSTHARVEST DISEASES


Postharvest handling of cucumbers

Major postharvest pathogens of cucumber (in Israel): fungi Botrytis, Sclerotinia, bacterium Pseudomonas lachrymans

Sclerotinia

Botrytis cinerea

P. lachrymans

The Botrytis attacks damaged (e.g., by low temperature) or senescent tissues (=“dieing”). Stimulated by ethylene.

The Botrytis decay often starts the blossom end (from the flower residue). If possible, the flower residue should be removed. The Botrytis at the stem end usually results from inaccurate picking (smashed peduncle).

Combination of Botrytis and P. lachrymans.


Postharvest handling of cucumbers

Tropical/subtropical origin → VERY SENSITIVE TO LOW STORAGE TEMPERATURE

Developschilling injury

at temperatures below 9°C

Pitting: a chilling injury symptom

OPTIMAL STORAGE TEMPERATURE 10-11°C

The chilling injury often transforms into fungal rots

Another postharvest disorder: development of warts during storage of initially smooth cucumbers


Postharvest handling of cucumbers

Postharvest technology :

Trying to solve the problems

HARVEST

Harvest criteria:

size (for Beit Alpha type): diameter 25-35 mm, length 150-200 mm); smooth, glossy dark-green skin.

Sanitation at harvest:

clean tools; avoiding contact of fruit with soil / substrate.

Reducing mechanical damage: accurate hand-picking. Avoid dropping fruit, minimum transfers. Selective picking.


Postharvest handling of cucumbers

Postharvest procedures

Local market (currently – most of the cucumbers)

Transfer into 12-kg plastic boxes lined with perforated polyethylene bag (to reduce moisture loss)

Transportation to “logistic centers” of marketing companies or wholesale market (up to 2-3 hours)

Harvesting

Storage at “logistic centers” up to 3 days at 15-17C and 85-90% RH

Marketing on open shelves (up to 2 days) at ≥ 20C and 50-70% RH

MAJOR STAGE OF DETERIORATION


Postharvest handling of cucumbers

Retail packaging:protection for the produce on the shelf

PVC-wrapped tray

Long “European” (= “Dutch”, “English”) greenhouse cucumbers: individually shrink-wrapped (no photo shown)

US: waxing (usually peeled before eating)

Bags (Japan)


Postharvest handling of cucumbers

Fresh-cut cucumbers (supermarket, China)


Postharvest handling of cucumbers

Local market (advanced scheme, currently in progress)

Hot water wash

(55-58C, 15-20”,

no brushes!), drying

Transfer to packing facility

Harvesting

Transportation to “logistic centers” of marketing companies or wholesale market (up to 2-3 hours)

Packaging into polyethylene-lined plastic boxes

Sorting by size and shape

Retail packaging

Storage at “logistic centers” up to 3 days at 15-17C and 85-90% RH

Marketing on open shelves at ≥ 20C and 50-70% RH


Postharvest handling of cucumbers

SORTING AND PACKAGING

Automated packing-house for cucumbers, Japan

Cooperative of ~10 growers

Optical sorting facility


Postharvest handling of cucumbers

Export (mostly cucumbers from “organic” growing)

Transfer to packing facility

Sorting by diameter

Harvesting

Packaging in 4-kg boxes (2 layers of fruit) with Xtend bags (liners)

Gentle wiping with soft and clean tissue, removal of flower residue

Quality control and transportation to export outlet

Shipment to Europe by sea: up to 12 days at 10-11C

Marketing in Europe

MAJOR POTENTIAL FOR DETERIORATION


Postharvest handling of cucumbers

“Xtend” effects: combination of modified atmosphere (MA) and modified humidity (MH) packaging

Xtend liners allow accumulation of increased CO2 concentration due to the produce respiration (modified atmosphere). CO2 inhibits ethylene.

Xtendlinershave higher water vapor permeability than polyethylene.

They allow optimal RH level of 92-97%, reduce weight loss and prevent the accumulation of condensed water.


Postharvest handling of cucumbers

Effects of Xtend packaging on cucumbers

12 days at 10C +3 days at 20C

3 days at 10C+ 3 days at 20C

Inhibition of yellowing

Inhibition of decay

Comparison with perforated polyethylene liner (as for local market) and non-packaged fruit


Postharvest handling of cucumbers

Effects of Xtend packaging on chilling injury of cucumbers

Xtend packaging prevents external signs of chilling injury, but not the internal signs

Recommended to ship cucumbers in Xtend at optimal temperature of 10C


Postharvest handling of cucumbers

CO2 damage to cucumbers

CO2<9%

CO2>12%

Potential problems with applying the Xtend packaging with cucumbers

1. Potential to CO2 damage (>10% CO2)

  • NOT TO OVERLOAD THE PACKAGES!

  • OBSERVE THE TEMPERATURE RECOMMENDATIONS!

  • OPEN THE PACKAGES AFTER TRANSFER TO SHELF-LIFE

  • (NON-COOLED) CONDITIONS!

6 kg cucumbers in the liner for 4-kg load

2. High cost


Postharvest handling of cucumbers

THANK YOU!


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