Preparing the packhouse for the citrus season

Preparing the packhouse for the citrus season

Don't miss Decco's talk "A future vision of post-harvest and the agri-food chain" at the Innova Forum at Fruit Attraction 2021, on 6 October from 10:30 to 11:00 h

The citrus season is fast approaching. It is time to prepare everything to ensure the correct storage of mandarins and oranges, among other citrus fruits. The disinfection of the packhouses is a critical point so that all the work is not spoiled due to poor post-harvest preparation. DECCO IBÉRICA reviews everything that must be taken into account in the process and what products should be used to protect citrus fruits from fungi and other problems.

Citrus season: aspects to take into account in the packhouse
Once harvested, citrus fruits are fruits that withstand storage relatively well. However, some aspects can completely ruin the harvest. The storage and transport processes of these fruits include important physical, chemical and biological factors, which can affect the safety, appearance and marketability of the products. For this reason, before storing them during the citrus season, it is essential to advocate a correct preparation and disinfection.

Among the worst post-harvest enemies are a variety of fungi. If we do not prevent their action, citrus rot will appear quickly, endangering the whole fruit, even if we act afterwards. This is why it is essential to prepare the storage properly.

Proper preparation for degreening
This term refers to the process of changing the colour of the fruit. Mandarins and oranges take on their characteristic colour from the green fruit. This is caused by various factors related to the fruit: temperature, humidity, oxygen and carbon dioxide concentrations, ethylene, etc. De-greening does not affect the maturity index of the fruit, which must comply with EU Regulation 543/2011, but rather aims to achieve the right appearance.

Picking the fruit at the right time and carrying out a suitable degreening process increases storage and marketing time. On the other hand, it also opens the door for microorganisms such as Penicillium digitatum and Geotrichum sp., among other fungi, to attack the ripening fruit.

These micro-organisms are found in spore form, dormant, in the chambers or on citrus vehicles and handling materials. During degreening, due to the aforementioned conditions and parameters, they can act on the citrus fruit, rotting them.

The positioning of the fruit, in such a way as to allow correct aeration, as well as a specific arrangement according to the colour and condition of the fruit, is essential for degreening to take place efficiently. So is disinfection, which will prevent the attack of pathogens.

The importance of disinfection
In order to keep the fruit healthy, degreening and storage of citrus fruit during the citrus season must begin with cleaning and disinfection of the storage chamber. In areas such as the Valencian Community, where relative humidity is significant, this process is particularly important due to the ease of transmission and proliferation of microorganisms.

With the appearance of a single source of infection, we can quickly lose the whole crop if the humidity conditions are adequate. Moreover, as they usually appear in areas that are not very visible, in contact with other fruit or on the surface, we can identify the problem too late. Therefore, it is essential to use sanitation techniques suitable for storage, thus avoiding possible losses.