Understanding kiwifruit physiology: why we can predict aspects of postharvest performance

J. Burdon
The ability to predict postharvest performance of kiwifruit (Actinidia chinensis) is critical commercially, and is posed as a goal for researchers. In general terms, postharvest performance is dependent on both the fruit physiology at harvest and the postharvest temperature management applied. Both aspects impact significantly on performance, yet the fruit physiology is largely ignored, or reduced to some simple-to-measure element of fruit composition such as soluble solids content (SSC). In this paper, three examples are used to demonstrate how an understanding of the fruit physiology can help in predicting postharvest performance. These three aspects are: maturity related changes in non-structural carbohydrate (SSC and starch) metabolism, fruit softening, and the nature of chilling injury. While SSC has long been used as a general indicator of fruit development, its role as a harvest index has significant limitations. Fruit softening on the vine and in storage follows a characteristic sigmoidal, three-phase, pattern. This pattern informs us of how the fruit is likely to behave in storage, and also of some of the risks to quality. The third topic of chilling injury utilises information from both the non-structural carbohydrates and also softening, but can only really be understood when the nature of the disorder is properly defined. Taken together, these three aspects demonstrate that from an understanding of fruit physiology, significant aspects of commercial postharvest behaviour are predictable.
Burdon, J. (2022). Understanding kiwifruit physiology: why we can predict aspects of postharvest performance. Acta Hortic. 1332, 253-260
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2022.1332.34
Actinidia, chilling injury, maturity, quality, softening, storage

Acta Horticulturae