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Tomato Preharvest Care

The present investigation was aimed at evaluating the combined effect of pre- and postharvest disinfection and evaporatively cooled storage on the changes in sugar content of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill). The preharvest treatments used were ComCat manure, NP and the combinations of ComCat with the two forms of fertilizers and a control. The tomatoes were periodically analyzed for reducing sugar and total sugar. Preharvest ComCat and ComCat + manure treatments improved the quality of tomato in terms of maintaining higher (P < 0.05) levels of sugar during storage. Storage at ambient conditions resulted in rapid change in sugar that resulted in quality deterioration of tomatoes. Disinfection seemed to have very limited effect on the changes in sugar content of tomatoes during storage. Two-way interactions between preharvest and storage conditions on changes in total sugar were significant at P < 0.05 level during the first week of storage and at P < 0.001, thereafter. In general, maintenance of higher reducing sugar and total sugar in tomatoes was found to be the benefits of the combined effect of preharvest treatments and evaporatively cooled storage.

Post harvest physiological, microbiological, biological and chemical qualities of tomatoes partly depend up on preharvest factors such as genetic and environmental conditions (Hobson, 1988). Cultural practices such as nutrient and water supply and harvesting methods are also claimed to be factors influencing quality of tomato before and after harvest.

Many post harvest losses are direct results of factors before harvest. Fruit and vegetables that are infected with pests and diseases, inappropriately irrigated and fertilized, or generally of poor quality before harvesting can never be improved by post harvest treatments. Very often, the rate of commodity loss is faster if the quality at harvest is below standard.

Generally, quality and duration of shelf life of fruit and vegetables are affected by the combined effect of preharvest and postharvest treatments. Therefore, the increase in yield of tomato due to some of the preharvest treatments needs to be necessarily accompanied by the use of appropriate techniques that minimize post harvest loss. Considering the above situation, the present experiment was designed to investigate effects of pre- and post harvest treatments on storability and quality of tomatoes.

Sample preparation: Mature green tomato fruit was obtained from each plot that was subjected to different preharvest treatments. Harvesting was carried out manually with care to minimize mechanical injury. Uniform unblemished fruit having similar size and color were selected and hand washed with tap water. To determine quality of fresh market tomato at harvest, six mature green tomatoes were randomly selected from each plot and were analyzed for reducing and total sugar concentrations after disinfection treatments.

Preharvest treatments, storage temperature and their interactions affected the total sugar content of tomato fruit throughout the storage period. The preharvest treatments had also influenced (P < 0.01) the changes in total sugar content during storage.

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