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Postharvest practices of peppers in Israel 15 years of research

Elazar Fallik efallik@volcani.agri.gov.il

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Pepper Postharvest

Postharvest practices of peppers in Israel 15 years of research

Elazar Fallik ARO-The Volcani Center, Department of Postharvest Science of Fresh Produce,

I nde x Summary Introduction Harvest practices Transporting harvested produce from field to packinghouse Packinghouse operation Transit station and transport to the ports while maintaining cold chain Future trends References

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Pepper Postharvest Sum m a ry

Sweet pepper is the second largest export commodity in Israel, with approx. 140,000 tons of fruits from several types (bell, elongated and chili) marketed mostly in Europe, some being sold in North America. This necessitates the practice of excellent pre- and postharvest techniques which will maintain fruit quality for more than 2 weeks. We have conducted both basic and applied research during the last 15 years to develop and improve postharvest practices for Israeli-grown peppers. Fruit should be harvested during the cool hours of the day using sharp and clean knives or clippers, with or without the calyx (stem), at 8085% final color. The harvesting team must wear gloves. Fruits are placed inside prewashed plastic crates lined with foam padding to prevent mechanical injury to the produce. Harvesting crates must not be overfilled in order to prevent crushing when crates are stacked one on another. Harvest crates must not come into contact with soil. Harvested produce must be transported on harvest carts as soon as possible to the pack house while the load is protected from direct sun or rain with shade net or waterproof screen. Harvested produce must be kept cool, shaded and well ventilated. The washing, grading and sorting machines must be thoroughly cleaned daily before or after work. Fruit are washed in hot water (55°C) supplemented with a disinfectant compound for about 15 s as they roll over spinning brushes (HWRB machine, “Hot Water Rinsing and Brushing” machine). After the hot water wash, fruit are dried by forced-air dryers prior to electronic sorting and grading. Only high quality fruit are packed in bulk in a corrugated new carton, plastic crates, or perforated plastic bags or sleeves, depending upon the export market. Cartons are palletized and as soon as possible should be transferred to the precooling transit station at 7°C and 93-95% RH for 12 to 24 hours, until they are brought to the export terminals in a refrigerated (7°C) disinfected truck or container. At the port,

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Pepper Postharvest

the fruit quality is inspected again by government agricultural agents and the pallets are kept at 7°C and 95% RH until they are loaded on a refrigerated ship or containers at 7°C and 93-95% RH for export. In order to maintain fruit quality during the whole year, especially during the hot Israeli summer, special pre-harvest practices have also been developed. Growing peppers under colored shade nets, especially in shades of pearl and yellow, maintains better fruit quality after harvest. Those nets also reduced insect infestations and increased yield. The presence in Israel of the Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly) prevents export of peppers to quarantine countries like Japan. Exposure to cold air is a well known treatment for killing Medfly on fresh produce. However, keeping pepper fruit at temperatures below 7°C for several days can cause severe chilling injury (CI). We have found that a combination of HWRB and Xtend® plastic bag packaging can significantly reduce incidence of CI after 3 weeks storage at 1.5°C. This treatment also killed Medfly eggs and larvae in infected fruit.

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Pepper Postharvest

I nt roduc t ion Bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) is an important fruit crop, widely cultivated throughout the world, and available in a range of colors such as green, yellow, red, orange, white, black and purple (Frank et al., 2001). Bell pepper is highly nutritious, as it contains large amounts of polyphenols, antioxidants and vitamin C, components which are important in the diet (Marin et al., 2004; Deepa et al., 2007). For this reason, bell peppers are one of the most important export fruit worldwide, especially from Israel and other Mediterranean countries. In 2013, approximately 140,000 tons of peppers of various colors and types were exported from Israel to Europe and the United States, mostly by sea-freight, between November and April, which is winter and beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere. The main varieties that are exported are red (80%), yellow (15%) and orange (5%). Most of the fruits are packed in bulk, inside cartons that hold 5 to 8 kg. The peppers are grown mainly in plastic houses or screen houses in the Arava and Jordan valleys, which are desert regions in the southern and eastern parts of Israel. Bell pepper fruits are stored for about 2 weeks at temperatures between 7 and 10°C, depending upon the variety and stage of maturity (Paull, 1990). These temperatures do not completely inhibit decay development, which is mainly caused by Botrytis cinerea in plastic houses and Alternaria alternata in shade nets (Ceponis et al., 1987). In addition to decay, rapid water loss due to storage affects pepper firmness and crispness (Maalekuu et al., 2004). These two factors; decay and water loss, are the most important parameters for the consumer’s acceptance to purchase the fruit in the markets. For these reasons and others, pepper is considered one of the most important domestic and export fruit crops worldwide, especially from Mexico, Holland and Spain. The aim of this paper is to summarize the postharvest practices know-how that have developed and are currently used in Israel, from the moment the fruit is harvested until it is exported abroad. In addition, we will summarize the latest research that is conducted to expand export and to develop new markets for Israeli peppers.

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H a rve st pra c t ic e s The fruit are picked during the cool hours of the day (not later than 11:30 am). The harvesting team must wear latex or fabric gloves to prevent any fruit bruises by the picker. Gloves are washed occasionally for phytosanitation, or when they are dirty. Harvesting is performed with sharp and disinfected shears or knives at 80-85% color (Pictures 1 and 2), with or without calyx (Picture 3). These picking tools must be disinfected daily and must be sharpened once a week. Fruits are placed very gently inside clean plastic crates lined with foam padding to prevent mechanical injury to the produce during handling and transportation from the plastic houses to the pack houses, particularly if roads are unpaved. Harvesting crates must not be overfilled. This prevents crushing when crates are stacked one on another. The crates must not come into contact with soil (Picture 1), which may have pathogens. They must be placed on harvest carts which facilitate handling along the paths in the plastic house (Picture 1).

T ra nsport ing ha rve st e d produc e from field t o pa c k inghouse Harvested produce must be transported as soon as possible to the pack house. High-speed travel on unpaved roads must be avoided to avoid physical injury to the peppers. During transport, the harvested peppers are covered with a ventilated “thermal blanket� to protect them from sun, rain, dust or insect infestation.

Pa c k inghouse ope ra t ion The pack house is maintained at all times in a clean and orderly manner. Desert coolers or air-conditioning, as well as good lighting, must be sufficient to afford packhouse workers a comfortable environment in which they can identify all defects in the produce. Harvested produce must be kept cool, shaded and well ventilated. The washing, grading and sorting machines must be thoroughly cleaned before and after work each day.

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Fruit are dumped very carefully on a conveyor that is cleaned frequently. The conveyor brings the fruit at a constant speed into the hot rinsing and brushing machine (Picture 3). Fruit are first washed with tap, non-recycled water over brushes, after which they continue into a hot water wash at 54-55°C for about 15 s as they roll over spinning brushes (HWRB machine) (for more details see Fallik et al., 1999, or Fallik, 2004). After the hot water wash, fruit are dried by forced-air dryers prior to electronic/camera sorting and grading machine. Only high quality fruit (Class I, or Premium) that are uniform in size, color and shape are packed in a corrugated new carton of 5 or 8 kg. Depending upon final markets, 3 fruits can be packed inside a macro-perforated flow-pack sleeve with one color or 3 different colors (red, yellow, green or orange), or 6 fruits (family pack) inside a macro-perforated LDPE bag. Each carton is labelled with the farmer’s name or pack house name, fruit color and size, and date of harvest. Cartons (110 cartons on a sea pallet) are stacked on pallets that are kept for a very short time in a cool, well-ventilated and shaded area prior to transport to the precooling transit station. It is preferable to keep the pallets inside a refrigerated room at 7°C and 95% RH. T ra nsit st a t ion a nd t ra nsport t o t he port s w hile m a int aining c old c ha in In the transit station (a central cooling facility), palletized produce is inspected by quality specialists from the Plant Protection and Inspection Services (PPIS) in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Pallets are placed inside a refrigerated room at 7°C for about 12 to 24 h and 95% RH, prior to shipment. Pallets then are loaded onto a pre-cooled refrigerated truck, at 7°C, and brought to the sea or airport terminal. In recent years, pepper fruit are exported in refrigerated pre-disinfected and cooled containers at 7°C. At the port, fruit are inspected again by the PPIS and pallets are kept at 7°C and 95% RH until the next available refrigerated ship loads the pallets for shipment abroad at 7°C and 95% RH. An average journey from Israel to Europe takes 10 to 18 days (sea transport + refrigerated trucks from the port in Europe to western and northern markets), while to the USA it takes up to 4 weeks. During the journey from the transit station to the wholesale markets in Europe or USA, fruit is kept constantly at 7°C and RH of 90% to 95% in order to maintain the cooling chain, thus ensuring pepper quality.

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Pepper Postharvest

Fut ure t re nds In order to extend the export season from the main growing season of winter and early spring through the summer and early fall, while maintaining high quality, shade netting is required to protect pepper plants from excessive solar radiation (Shahak, 2008). Growing pepper under pearl-colored shade net was found to be more effective in maintaining postharvest fruit quality than the traditional black netting, especially at lateseason harvests. The improvement in storage quality can be related to alteration of antioxidant levels induced by the pre-harvest manipulation of the light environment (Goren et al., 2009; Kong et al., 2013). Various pepper-importing countries, such as the USA or Japan, demand quarantine security protocols to diminish the risk of accidental introduction of the Mediterranean fruit fly (medfly) Ceratitis capitata (Wiedemann) on imported fruit. Effective quarantine treatment protocols must combine complete insect kill, minimal damage to plant tissue, and reasonable cost. We found that all tested stages (egg, L1, L2 and L3 larval instar) were totally killed by simulated in-transit cold quarantine treatments at 1.5°C or 4°C for 21 days, which represents an average ship-journey from Israel to distant markets such as Japan or the USA. These two cold quarantine treatments, especially the one at 1.5°C, caused very little chilling impairment to the Xtend®-packed pepper fruit quality, i.e. the degree and incidence of chilling injury complied with a commercially reasonable level of overall quality. These findings provide the basis for the future establishment of an export quarantine treatment protocol for bell pepper fruit. It should be based on in-transit storage at temperatures of 1.5°C for 21 days to eliminate medfly eggs and larval instars from pepper fruit, while maintaining commercial quality of the fruit (Fallik et al., 2012).

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Pepper Postharvest

Acknowledgement

Contribution from the Agricul¬tural Research Organization, the Volcani Center, Bet Dagan, Israel, No. 706/14.

References Ceponis, M. J., Cappellini, R. A., Lightner, R. A. (1987). Disorders in fresh pepper shipments to the New York market. Plant Dis. 71, 380-382. Deepa, N., Charanjit, K., Binoy, G., Singh, B., Kapoor, H.C. (2007). Antioxidant constituents in some sweet pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) genotypes during maturity. Leben. Wissen. Technol. 40, 121–129. Fallik, E. (2004). Pre-storage hot water treatments (immersion, rinsing and brushing). Postharvest Biol. Technol. 32, 125-134. Fallik, E., Grinberg, S., Alkalai, S., Yekutieli, O., Wiseblum, A., Regev, R., Beres, H., Bar Lev, E. (1999). A unique rapid hot water treatment to improve storage quality of sweet pepper. Postharvest Biol. Technol. 15, 25-32. Fallik, E., Perzelan, Y., Alkalai-Tuvia, S., Nemny-Lavy, E., Nestel, D. (2012). Development of cold quarantine protocols to arrest the development of the Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata) in pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) fruit after harvest. Postharvest Biol. Technol. 70, 7–12. Frank, C. A., Nelson, R. G., Simonne, E. H., Behe, B. K., Simonne, A. H. (2001). Consumer preferences for color , price , and vitamin C content of bell peppers. HortSci. 36, 795–800. Goren, A., Alkalia-Tuvia, S., Perzelan, Y., Aharon, Z., Fallik, E. (2011). Photoselective shade nets reduce postharvest decay development in pepper fruits. Adv. Hortic. Sci. 25, 26-31. Kong, Y., Avraham, L., Perzelan, Y., Alkalai-Tuvia, S., Ratner, K., Shahak, Y., Fallik, E. (2013). Pearl netting affects postharvest quality fruit in ‘Vergasa’ sweet pepper via light environment manipulation. Sci. Hortic. 150, 290-298. Maalekuu, K., Elkind, Y., Tuvia-Alkalai, S., Shalom, Y., Fallik, E. (2004). The influence of harvest season and cultivar type on several quality traits and quality stability of three commercial sweet bell peppers during the harvest period. Adv. Hortic. Sci. 18, 21–25. Marín, A., Ferreres, F., Tomás-Barberán, F.A., Gil, M.I. (2004). Characterization and quantitation of antioxidant constituents of sweet pepper (Capsicum annuum L.). J. Agric. Food Chem. 52, 3861–3869. Paull, R.E. (1990). Chilling injury of crops of tropical and subtropical origin. In: Wang, C.Y. (Ed.), Chilling Injury of Horticultural Crops. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, pp.17–36. Shahak, Y. (2008). Photo-selective netting for improved performance of horticultural crops. A review of ornamental and vegetable studies carried out in Israel. Acta Hortic. 770, 161168.

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0251658240

Forbidden

Picture 1: Harvest practices: using a clean clipper (in circle), wearing gloves, using cushioned clean plastic crates that are placed on a cart. Placing crates on the ground is forbidden.

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80 - 85%

Picture 2: The recommended maturity stage for harvesting bell sweet pepper (80-85% in color).

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Picture 3: Harvesting at the abscission zone with or without calyx

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0251681792

Picture 4: The hot water rinsing and brushing (HWRB) process: Upper row: Left picture, Fruit after harvest and before cleaning > Middle picture, Conveyor that brings the fruit into the HWRB > Right picture, HWRB unit; > Middle row: Left, Non-recycled tap water wash over brushes > Right, Recycled hot water wash over brushes (54-55째C for 15 s) > Last row: Right, Drying tunnel > Middle, Sorting and grading line > Left, Packed fruit (from Fallik, 2004).

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Serie Documentos

Pepper Postharvest

Postharvest practices of peppers in Israel 15 years of research

Elazar Fallik e-mail: efallik@volcani.agri.gov.il ARO-The Volcani Center, Department of Postharvest Science of Fresh Produce, P.O.Box 6, Bet Dagan 50250, Israel

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Postharvest practices of peppers in Israel  

15 years of research; por Elazar Fallik. ARO-The Volcani Center, Department of Postharvest Science of Fresh Produce. 16 páginas

Postharvest practices of peppers in Israel  

15 years of research; por Elazar Fallik. ARO-The Volcani Center, Department of Postharvest Science of Fresh Produce. 16 páginas