Greenhouse climate control affects postharvest tomato quality

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In this study, important quality properties such as firmness, sugar and acid levels were measured and analysed in tomatoes harvested from three greenhouses during a five month period and stored at 16 degrees C for over 20 days. Tomatoes were harvested from three identical, neighbouring, greenhouses which were either conventionally ventilated (open greenhouse) or mechanically cooled (semi-closed greenhouses). Sugar and acids levels were hardly affected by greenhouse type. Compared to the open greenhouse, semi-closed greenhouses produced heavier and less mature (firmer) fruit at the commercial harvesting stage based on colour. Fruit maturity differences could be linked to the vertical temperature gradient and to CO2 levels in the different greenhouses. This indicates that CO2 levels and temperature affect the synchronisation between colour and firmness maturity at harvest. The acceptance period, i.e., the time period both tomato colour and firmness are considered acceptable by consumers, will likely be positively affected when growers switch from conventionally ventilated to semi-closed production systems. Additional to greenhouse effects also effects of the harvest month were observed. The sugar to acid ratio was highest and glucose to fructose ratio was lowest in July, the month with the highest irradiance, irrespective of greenhouse type. The estimated value for the maximum firmness (F-max) varied from 17.9 N in August to 31.2 N in June. This monthly variation in F-max explains an important part of the variation found in the postharvest behaviour of tomatoes. Interestingly, the monthly variation in F-max showed the same trend as found for the monthly initial sugar levels. It might be hypothesised that the monthly variation in glucose and fructose levels causes variation in that part of firmness that is generated by cell turgor. The monthly variation in F-max, sugar and acid levels could not be linked to climate conditions and remains to be elucidated. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)354-361
JournalPostharvest Biology and Technology
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • nutritional quality
  • closed greenhouse
  • apple fruit
  • temperature
  • yield
  • radiation
  • sweetness
  • cultivar
  • fructose
  • behavior


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