Bruising is an issue that must be addressed throughout the entire postharvest handling process. Bruising can result from impacts with blunt or sharp objects, or it can result from compression in storage or shipping containers. Bruising at each step of the postharvest handling system can result in significant economic losses. There are several low-technology solutions for bruising problems. Most involve altering the process of how fruit are handled by eliminating drops between transport or fruit carriers; eliminating edges and sharp corners on packing equipment; and the use of fiber-filled or bubble pads in packing cartons. Bruises might not be apparent immediately, but with time they become quite obvious. Finding the origin of the problem can be difficult. A few commercial companies have built instrumented spheres, which are devices that can be placed directly into the product stream. The instrumented spheres are exposed to the same forces and impacts that fruit experience during the handling and packing operation. The instrumented spheres are high-technology devices with onboard accelerometers that electronically record changes in acceleration along with a corresponding time stamp. By videotaping the sphere as it progresses through the packing line and making comparisons to the time-stamped acceleration data, one can pinpoint where handling problems occur. Based on this information, corrections can be made, tested, and evaluated.
Storage of the product also has a significant effect on how fruit respond to the packing process itself. With 'Golden Delicious' and other light-colored cultivars that easily show bruising, it is a common practice to store fruit at 10 to 15°C for a few days prior to packing. During this time, fruit dehydrate and become more elastic and less susceptible to bruising during packing.
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