DAMAGE BY ROT - Consequent upon:
attack by parasites, or
rupture of the peel or skin prior to or during transport, or unhealthy general condition of the product (i.e., a weakly predisposition, rendering the product more liable to rot).
Fruit or vegetables apparently quite sound at time of packing may show signs of rot after a certain time (e.g., development of "blue rot" - Penicillium italicum on citrus fruits, particularly on lemons).
In a general manner it can be said that the higher the temperature the greater are the chances of rot or disease development. Rotting of some produce is aggravated by high humidity of the air.
The bruising of fruit or vegetables or the rupture of their peels or skin; are the principal causes of subsequent rotting. Such external damage is caused:
(1) Very frequently during picking.
(2) During conditioning - by inefficient machines, or by defective packaging - an example of the latter being boxes constructed of badly planed planks, the rough surfaces of which cause peel abrasion. Produce may also suffer damage when the containers have been too tightly packed.
(3) Apart from bad handling, which is frequently the cause of damage, bad stowing can also be a cause of considerable damage; this owing to the shape or construction of the cases used for the fruit. For example, it frequently happens that orange boxes (type Florida or California) have convex tops, the fruit contained overflowing as it were the level of the topmost horizontal planks. Normally, in order to support the center of the convex top planks (forming the box cover), the central separating planks should be higher than those forming either end of the box. When such boxes are constructed without this important point being seen to, it is obvious that insufficient protection is afforded to the contents in the event of the box being dropped on to its upper side. It also happens that cases may be badly put together, leaving too wide a space between the planks of the sides; thus any fruit partly protruding along these spaces will most probably arrive damaged.
As regards unfavorable general conditions of agricultural produce it has been noticed that rot is more liable to develop when fruit or vegetables have been picked or packed during damp weather.
The crop, during the period of growth, has been subjected to excessive variations of atmospheric humidity (in oranges alternate periods of damp and dryness cause fissures to appear in the peel, which facilitate subsequent bursting of the fruit). When the crop has been gathered late in the season the percentage of damage by rot increases noticeably. It should be noted that certain chemical treatments are employed with a view to preventing the spreading of damage by rot.
Oranges are treated, otherwise than those for British markets, by:
A warm 4% solution of borax prior to packing;
The "Decco" (gas) system - largely employed in Palestine, after conditioning and before shipment.
The practice of wrapping the fruit individually may also reduce the extension of rot-damage. The paper employed is sometimes chemically treated in order to increase the protection afforded (papers impregnated with diphenyl have been developed in England and are used extensively for citrus fruits in the United States).
Semi-permeable papers also help to reduce loss from desiccation; the same may be said of moisture proof transparent wrappers and of certain vegetable waxes, the latter being directly applied on the fruit or vegetable.
- Commodity Name:
VEGETABLES AND FRUIT (Fresh)