1. Crop Care

Pre & Post-Harvest Safety Measures in Mango

Post-harvest management is the need of the hour to deliver a quality product to the market and ultimately to the consumer.

Dr Poonam Batra
Pre & Post-Harvest Safety Measures in Mango
Pre & Post-Harvest Safety Measures in Mango

Mango (Mangifera indica) 'the king of fruits' is an important fruit crop in India. Mango is the most widely cultivated tropical fruit in India. To reach from tree to consumer every step of the Mango supply chain has a chance to improve the quality. Post-harvest management is the need of the hour to deliver a quality product to the market and ultimately to the consumer.

The following pre & post-harvest safety measures can be adopted to improve the quality of products at every step:

Pre-Harvest Precautions:

  • Farmers/harvesters must wash their hands before harvesting. Good personal hygiene must be practiced to avoid cross-contamination of the produce.

  • Farmers should carry collecting baskets covered with clean plastic sacks/newspaper/jute sack/straw to protect fruits from punctures and cuts caused by sharp or protruding edges of the baskets. These cuts and punctures provide avenues for water loss and invasion of decay-causing organisms. This punctured fruit produces a lot of ethylene that hastens the ripening process. Gently lower filled collecting baskets to the ground.

  • Do NOT pour harvested fruits onto the ground pour onto a clean tarpaulin.

  • Harvested mangoes should not get in contact with the soil to avoid microbial contamination. Minimize damage and avoid contamination of fruits with soil, pathogens, fertilizers, or other agrochemicals.

  • Avoid exposing harvested fruits to the heat of the sun to prevent heat build-up. The pulp of the mango fruit consists mainly of water. Exposure of the fruit to the sun results in rapid water loss. Mangoes are prone to shriveling and weight loss and consequently loss in marketable weight.

  • Leave 2-3 cm of the stem (pedicel) attached to divert latex flow away from the fruit

  • The spray of calcium is found useful in delaying the ripening of Mangoes and improving their storage life and increasing their marketability.

  • To control storage disease due to anthracnose and stem-end rot in mango varieties spray fungicides like Dithane M-45 (0.2%), Bavistin 0.1%, Topsin-M (0.1%), and Captan (0.2%) 15 days before harvest.

Harvest Precautions:

Fruit should be harvested after reaching maturity. If immature Mangoes are picked, fruits develop white patches or air pockets, and this affects taste and flavor, whereas over-mature fruits lose their storage life. Such fruits present numerous problems during handling. It is desirable to pick the fruits at the correct stage of maturity to facilitate ripening, distant transportation, and maximum storage life, and thus increase their quality and market value.

There are the following parameters to check the maturity indices:

  • Shape: flat shoulder at stem end; the fullness of cheeks.

  • Peel appearance: the presence of bloom (white powdery substance on the peel)

  • Peel Colour: change the peel color from dark to light green (for some varieties).

  • Pulp color: light creamy yellow pulp.

  • In few varieties when fruits sink in water (Langra, Chousa)

 The following precautions should be taken during harvesting:

  • Harvesting should be done by using appropriate instruments like clippers or by carefully twisting and pulling the fruit from the tree.

  • The harvesting under wet conditions should be avoided, since wet fruits are more susceptible to microbial growth and soil particles may cling to wet crops, exposing them to soil-borne rot organisms.

  • Harvesting of fruits is best in the late morning, because the oil glands of these fruits are full in the early morning, causing immediate discoloration.

  • Stems left on the fruit should be cut off closely because they can puncture other fruit, causing post-harvest decay and fruit spoilage.

  • The tree should never be Shaked to harvest the fruits. The fruits should not be allowed to fall on the soil to avoid the mechanical injury that makes the fruit more prone to decay.

  • After harvesting, the fruits should never be left in direct sunlight and must be kept in the shade.

  • The contact of fruits with the soil should be avoided and should be kept carefully in padded field crates, well-ventilated plastic containers, or picking bags.

  • Picking bags either should be strapped around the waist or put over the shoulder.

  • Picking bags should be designed to empty from the bottom so that fruits can roll out of the sack onto the bottom of a larger field container or atop fruits already present.

Post-Harvest Precautions:

  • Improved post-harvest practices result in a reduction in losses, improve overall quality, extended shelf life, and higher profits for growers and marketers. The packed house should be properly cleaned all the time, pet animals should be kept away from the parking area, provide adequate protection from sun and rain and all workers of the packhouse should practice good personal hygiene. These operations can be done in the field, in collection centers, or a packed house. The following activities are to be performed on fresh produce to reach to meet the requirements of the target market. These operations can be done in the field, in collection centers, or a packed house.

  • Trimming: Trimming refers to the cutting of the stem that is left on the fruit. Packing fruits with stems attached may result in latex stains when stems break off during handling. Fresh latex oozes out of the stem end, thus staining other fruits in a pack. Dried latex is difficult to remove

  • Delatexing/decapping: Delatexing, also known as decapping, is the removal of fresh latex from the fruit. After trimming, immediately place the fruit with the stem end down to allow latex to drip without touching the fruit’s peel. Do NOT invert fruits on sacks as this may lead to coagulation of latex at the base of the fruit. Dipping freshly de-stemmed fruits in 1 percent alum solution (one-half kg powdered alum per 50 liters of water) for one minute. Alum enhances coagulation of the latex when the fruit is dipped. Plastic crates can be used to hold the fruits during dipping. Allow fruits to dry before packing

  • Sorting/grading: Sorting is the grouping of mangoes based on the criteria of the one classifying and there is no definite set of standards followed. This is the most common practice in selling mangoes.

Mangoes do not need any special post-harvest treatment for marketing in local markets, except simple washing with water to remove the latex and dust. On a commercial scale or for export purposes, they are sometimes dipped in hot water, containing fungicide for the control of diseases. However, hot water treatment (HWT) is an effective post-harvest treatment for Mangoes. Dipping newly harvested fruits in hot water minimizes fruit fly damage, anthracnose, and stem-end rot infections. To know more about hot water treatment, stay tuned with Krishi Jagran.

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