Factors associated with postharvest ripening heterogeneity of "Hass" avocados (Persea americana Mill)
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Introduction. 'Hass' is the main avocado cultivar commercialized worldwide. The extended flowering period, very low percentage of fruit set and inability to ripen on the tree renders the fruit heterogeneous and unpredictable during postharvest management. The "triggered" and "ready-to-eat" growing markets for 'Hass' avocados are affected by the variable postharvest ripening or ripening heterogeneity which creates severe logistical problems for marketers and inconsistent quality delivery to consumers. Synthesis. The dry matter content, the current avocado harvest index that correlates very well with oil content, has been extensively used to harvest 'Hass' avocados to comply with the minimum standards to guarantee consumer satisfaction. However, previous work and empirical experience demonstrate that dry matter does not correlate on a fruit-to-fruit basis with time to reach edible ripeness. Thus, avocados of very different ages are harvested from individual trees, resulting in heterogeneous postharvest ripening of fruit within a specific batch. Several preharvest factors related to environmental and growing conditions and crop management as well as postharvest technology strategies influence the observed variability of postharvest ripening. Conclusion. Modern approaches based on studying the composition of individual fruits displaying contrasting postharvest ripening behavior, combined with non-destructive phenotyping techniques, seem to offer practical solutions for the fresh supply chain of avocados to sort fruit based on their ripening capacity.