Effect of polyethylene mulch colour and maturity stage on strawberry phytochemicals and postharvest quality

M.D. Mlaba, H. Fotouo-M, S.Z. Tesfay, A. Odindo, L.S. Magwaza, A. Mditshwa, S. Kurup, S.N. Mokgehle
Strawberries (Fragaria ananassa) are non-climacteric and highly perishable fruits which should be harvested when fully ripened; as a result, they have a shorter shelf life. The postharvest quality of strawberry fruits is highly influenced by preharvest factors. Methods of cultivation such as mulching can have a greater influence on the bioactive compounds of berries. Polyethylene mulch colour dictates its energy-radiation behaviour and its effect on the plants’ microclimate; it can also affect spectral balance and quantity of canopy light and thus influencing the accumulation of bioactive compounds. The aim of this experiment was to determine the effect of polyethylene mulch colour and stage of maturity at harvest on the fruit quality and bioactive compounds of strawberries cultivars, ‘Albion’ and ‘Monterey’. Mulching treatments and maturity stage influenced the fruit quality attributes. Red polyethylene mulched plants produced fruits with low weight loss, titratable acidity, total phenolic compounds, total antioxidant capacity, and high ascorbic acid compared to other mulching colours. Fruit quality at the full maturity stage had the highest weight loss and low titratable acidity, total phenolic compound, and total antioxidant capacity. Fruit harvested at full maturity had high total soluble solids, ascorbic acidity, glucose, fructose, and sucrose. PCA revealed that weight loss is necessarily an indicator of fruit quality. Based on the results, it was concluded that fruits of the cultivars under study harvested on the red polyethylene mulched plants at the ⅔ maturity stage retain most of their quality during storage.
Mlaba, M.D., Fotouo-M, H., Tesfay, S.Z., Odindo, A., Magwaza, L.S., Mditshwa, A., Kurup, S. and Mokgehle, S.N. (2022). Effect of polyethylene mulch colour and maturity stage on strawberry phytochemicals and postharvest quality. Acta Hortic. 1349, 251-260
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2022.1349.35
ascorbic acid, maturity stage, shelf life, sugars, titratable acidity, total phenolic compound

Acta Horticulturae