Harvesting and handling of fruits and vegetables
Author: Dr. R.R. Sharma
Division of Food Science and Postharvest Technology,
ICAR- Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi-110 012

In postharvest handling of fruits and vegetables, harvesting of fruits at right stage of maturity and at right time is of utmost importance. Fruits harvested too early may lack flavour and may not ripen properly, while produce harvested too late may be fibrous or have very limited market life. Similarly, vegetables are harvested over a wide range of physiological stages, depending upon which part of the plant is used as food. For example, small or immature vegetables possess better texture and quality than mature or over-mature vegetables. Therefore harvesting of fruits and vegetables at proper stage of maturity is of paramount importance for attaining desirable quality. The level of maturity actually helps in selection of storage methods, estimation of shelf life, selection of processing operations for value addition etc. The maturity has been divided into two categories i.e. physiological maturity and horticultural maturity.

Physiological maturity: The stage at which a plant or a plant part continues ontogeny even if detached from its parent plant or the point of origin.

Horticultural maturity: It may be defined as the stage at which a plant or a plant part possesses all the pre-requisites for utilization by the ultimate consumer for a particular purpose. For example, horticultural maturity stage of tomato if harvested for long distance transportation would be the ., turning stage of peel ‘from green to red’ while the optimum stage of harvesting of the same crop for home use or local markets would be ‘when the fruits have attained full red colour’.

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About Author / Additional Info:
Working on production and postharvest management of fruits and vegetables for the last 32 years. I have published more that 130 research articles in journals of international repute. Authored 12 books, 250 popular articles and received several awards and honours of ICAR and Govt. of India