MANIPULATING THE RIPENING OF TOMATO FRUIT - LOW AND HIGH TECHNOLOGY
To maximise colour and flavour development, tomato fruit should be left to ripen fully on the plant. However, the fruit must then be marketed locally without delay, as there is too little product-life remaining to allow time to transport the tomatoes to other districts. There are several ways in which the development of fairly-well coloured fruit may be slowed down so that there are then a few more days between harvest and full ripeness. Cooling the fruit to 10°C considerably reduces the ripening rate seen at 20°C, but it is an expensive process. The minimum temperature to ensure freedom from chilling injury and a reasonable flavour profile is thought to be about 12°C. Another system involves overwrapping the fruit with thin plastic film so that respiration reduces the oxygen and increases the carbon dioxide surrounding the product, thus slowing ripening. High humidity and the danger of off-flavour development restricts the length of time that the wrapping can remain in place at ambient temperatures. A further alternative for slowing deterioration is by the incorporation of non-ripening mutant material into genotypes having excellent compositional potential. A final cross with the wild type produces F1 -hybrids that bear fruit which overripen only very slowly. Line containing the rin and nor alleles have been examined in detail, and further characters to confer evenness of ripening, a greater depth of colour and resistance to disease have also been introduced. Growers and marketing organisations will thus have a choice of methods whereby flavour and shelf-life may be maximised, each capable of preserving fruit quality and reducing wastage between picking and eating.
Hobson, G.E. (1989). MANIPULATING THE RIPENING OF TOMATO FRUIT - LOW AND HIGH TECHNOLOGY. Acta Hortic. 258, 593-600