Factors of harvesting fruits and vegetables

Factors of harvesting fruits and vegetables

1. Season

Quality of produce are greatly influenced by season. e.g. Winter season harvest  having more shelf life as compared to other season while off season fruits and vegetables  give more remunerative price. Harvesting during or immediately after rains should not be  carried  out  since  it  creates  most  favourable  conditions  for  multiplication  of  micro  organisms. Citrus fruits become susceptible to damage if harvested during rains as their  rind becomes turgid and prone to easy bruising, sun-­scald etc.

2. Time of harvesting

Fruits  and  vegetables  should  always  be  harvested  when  temperature  is  mild.  Because, higher temperature leads to faster respiration. Morning harvest of horticultural  crop prefer for local market because they are fully fresh and turgid and having dew drop in  this time. Evening harvesting is preferred for distant market due to higher accumulation of  reserved carbohydrates and less amount of moisture which give the better quality of the  produce to consumer. Leafy vegetables harvested in the latter part of the morning or late  in the afternoon, the petioles of these vegetables break less easily and their leaves are more resistant to tearing, since they have lost water through transpiration and therefore are less  brittle. Cucumber is harvested in the late morning when it to be transported under less than  ideal condition because it is less prone to injury when it contains less water.

3. Method of harvesting 

Selection of suitable method for harvesting of the produce is  necessary otherwise bruises or injuries during harvesting may later manifest as black or  brown patches making them unattractive. Latex coming out of stem in mango should not  be allowed to fall on fruits as it creates a black spot. Injury to peel may become an entry  point for microorganisms, causing rotting. Some harvesting gadgets have been developed,  e.g. mango harvester.

4. Stage of harvesting

Fruits and vegetables must be harvested at right stage of maturity. A  very common cause of poor product quality at harvest and rapid deterioration thereafter is  harvesting immature vegetables. Vegetables harvested immature or over mature usually do  not  keep  long.  Fruit,  vegetables  harvested  too  early  lose  water  fast  and  are  more  susceptible to mechanical damage and microbial attack. An over mature vegetable is more  susceptible to decay, has passed its best eating quality and deteriorates fast. The stage of  maturity and harvest affects fruit quality. Generally, the fruits harvested at the advanced  stage of maturity have increased fruits size and eating qualities (taste and aroma) but  decreased shelf life. e.g. mango fruits are harvested 7 days before optimum maturity  showed better storage performance but failed to arrest skin discoloration, and caused even  ripening.

5. Consumer  demand

Harvesting  time  and  harvest  maturity  can  be  altered  by  the  requirement of the consumer’s demand which may affect the quality of the produce at  some extent.

Important Agricultural Websites

Online Agricultural Study

Food and Agricultural Organization

United States Department of Agriculture

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