The Potential for Bell Pepper Harvest Prior to Full Color Development

Andrea F. Molinari, Larissa R. de Castro, Silvia Antoniali, Pornchai Pornchaloempong, Abbie J. Fox, Steven A. Sargent, Elizabeth M. Lamb

Abstract


‘Triple 4' (red cultivar) and 'Kelvin' (yellow cultivar) bell peppers (Capsicum annuum L.) were greenhouse-grown and harvested during two distinct seasons. Harvest 1 (February, 1999) occurred during short photoperiods and cooler day time temperatures, and Harvest 2 (May) during longer photoperiods and warmer days. Peppers were picked with 10 to 30% color (Stage 3) and 100% color (fully ripe). Fruits of each variety at Stage 3 were also tagged and left to ripen on the plants. Harvested peppers were stored at 20°C and 90% relative humidity (RH) +/- continuous exposure to ethylene gas (100 ppm) using a flow-through system. Both cultivars of peppers ripened off the plant had similar appearance and compositional quality to those ripened on the plant. Red peppers harvested at the onset of color change developed full color faster in storage (4.7 to 5.2 days) than yellow bell peppers left on the plant (10.7 days). Constant exposure to ethylene and harvest season had no effect on ripening for either variety. At full-ripe stage red and yellow peppers averaged 29.9 and 87.5 for hue angle, respectively. No decay or noticeable stem-end shriveling developed during the ripening period in storage. Total titratable acidity (TTA) for peppers ripened on the plant was generally significantly higher than those harvested at color- break. Pulp pH of yellow peppers harvested at full-ripe stage decreased from the early (winter) harvest to the late (spring) harvest. Pulp pH of red peppers did not vary significantly. Total soluble solids (TSS) content increased between early and late harvests for red peppers ripened on the plant (6.07 and 7.55 °Brix, respectively). Red and yellow peppers had similar flesh firmness with respect to harvest season and harvest maturity (26.6 to 31.8 N for red and 22.6 to 28.3 for yellow). Red and yellow pepper varieties could be harvested commercially at the onset of color change and ripened at 20°C and 90% RH while maintaining high quality.

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283