On vs. off-plant ripening: which one yields a more nutritious fruit?

On vs. off-plant ripening: which one yields a more nutritious fruit?

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Many fruits may ripen either when attached to the plant, or once it is detached from the plant. Which option yields a more nutritious fruit? In other words, if one picks a fruit when it is still unripe, then wait for it to get ripe, will the fruit has similar nutritional properties as if one wait for the fruit to ripe before picking it?

Is there a nutritional difference between fruit ripened on the plant and fruit that ripens on the shelf at the grocer?

A lot of fruit is picked from the plant in a "raw" state, such as bananas, tomatoes and avocado's.

Does the fruit receive a lot of nutritional value if it ripens while still attached to the plant?

Would an unripe fruit that ripens on the shelf in your local grocer have just as much nutrients as one that ripens while still attached to it's plant?

Some basic plant bio on ripening:

For most fruits, the ripening process is controlled by the plant hormone ethylene. This is a gas that is produced in the fruit to induce ripening, but is also a diffusible signal that can act over distances. For instance in some species, if you put ripe fruit in with unripe fruit, the ripe fruit will produce ethylene that induces nearby fruit to ripen.

The first commercial GMO was the flavr-savr tomato, which is an antisense RNA construct that interferes with ethylene production. By preventing the tomatoes from making their own ethylene, you can control the ripening process by adding ethylene when you want to. The flavr-savr failed as it was developed in a variety unsuited for commercial production. Reduced ethylene production has since been bred into most commercial varieties.

Nutritional changes upon ripening are very complex and depend on a number of factors, including light and temperature. It's important to realize that this is occuring in the mature fruit tissue, and very little phloem activity occurs in a mature fruits that can ripen off the plant. While the mature tissue may not be growing, it is still functioning biochemically.

I wasn't able to find anything that directly addressed the issue of on vs. off-plant ripening, but my inclination is that this difference is minimal compared to other factors. Age of the fruit, and the conditions it was kept in (light, temp.), and most of all the growing conditions and variety of the plant, are going to play the biggest roles. If I wanted to look for nutritional differences, Iɽ focus my search on looking at different cultivars, not the ripening regime.

Using tomatoes, fruit ripened on the plant accumulates nearly all the sugars and many of the flavonoids in the last 3 days on the vine. So when someone asks if the nutrition is there, I ask if the flavor is there because when the flavor is present, the nutrition will be optimal.

Caveat that a lot more goes into producing an outstandingly good flavored tomato than just the ripening process. There is a huge genetic component, soil nutrient status, and pest/disease pressure to consider. Commercial tomatoes were developed to be bowling ball hard, uniform size, highly productive, and a bunch of other traits associated with shipping them 2000 miles before putting them in an ethylene chamber to ripen. Where was flavor in any of this?

Background, I produce vegetable seedlings for a living and am a tomato critic for a pastime. and read the last few items.

Edit: Bananas do not suffer so many flavor and nutrient losses from ripening off the plant. Tomatoes on the other hand when force ripened lose a huge amount of carotenoids, flavonoids, and volatiles that significantly reduce the nutrient content and the flavor. If you want to spend an afternoon reading some interesting research, look up "Klee tomato flavor". Harry is at least trying to breed a better tomato, though I'm not sure he can succeed given the bowling ball genetics of most commercial tomatoes.

The last paragraph was very enlightening. I was under the impression that many fruits that are still "on the vine" still have lots of nutrients and sugars carried to it through the phloem and when it is picked it loses that capacity and therefore doesn't taste as good.

I do know that in the case of some fruits, particularly the pineapple, no ripening will occur off of the plant. Therefore, however sweet or ripe the fruit is when picked is the best it will be.

According to the article, the flavr-savr was engineered to not produce polygalacturonase, which degrades pectin in the cell walls and results in the tomato softening.

Normally tomato's would be harvested before ripening, because they would be too soft if allowed to ripen.

It would also depend on the exact type of ripening. Some plants store starch in the unripe fruit, and the ripening process turns the starch to sugar others store the sugar elsewhere and pipe it into the fruit. Thus the first type of fruit can sweeten after being picked and the second cannot. Pineapples, for example, do not get any sweeter after picking because they're cut off from the sugar in the root.

None of this applies to other aspects of ripening such as flavor compounds, cell-wall breakdown, or acid decrease.

Not my field, but no one has stepped up with actual science, so here are two sources I was able to find that suggest differences do occur between ripening on the plant vs post-harvest, one showing a difference in antioxidant concentration and another showing a more general difference (or lack of) between ripening on the tree versus post harvest:

Source 1 (link below) "The data indicate that ripening conditions affected both the antioxidant accumulation kinetics and the final content, which was higher in post-harvest-ripened fruits."

Source 2 "It is a common observation that fruits of many species ripen quickly if they are harvested but more slowly or not at all if left on the tree. An extreme case of this behaviour is that of the Fuerte avocado (grown in southern California) which will not soften while attached to the tree by a healthy stem."

*I would like to apologize for any misinformation that I may have given. I wanted to retract my post until I have some time to write a thorough, concise answer that explains my previous posts' links and statements. I encourage you to read some of the other posts below that all have relevant information but I don't believe have fully answered the question. I have a tendency to not fully explain what I have provided. So, I encourage each of you to downvote my response until explained in detail.

I have left one resource that does, in fact, show there is a statistically significant difference between a tomato ripened on the plant vs that off the vine when looking at a few specific criteria. (Please note the level of Ascorbic Acid in Table 1).

In addition I have left another source that shows similar findings that illustrate a difference. (Please note the level of Ascorbic Acid) in Table 6. In addition to pointing out in the conclusions that more research needs to be done to see what, if any, difference there may actually be.

However, these two studies show different findings of one of the same tested variables (levels of ascorbic acid). The first has a no significant change in Ascorbic Acid while the second does. There are method differences between the two studies which may account for that. The first study also points out the differences (as some have mentioned) up to 30% comparing the vine ripened vs. not with regards to 4 of their research points.

In the basic essence of this. Yes, there is a measurable nutritional difference between the two when looking at THIS ONE item, a tomato and those specific nutritional elements tested. The question that is at the heart of my original statement of (no, there isn't much). is that the nutritional difference would be so small that it would not make a difference in the scheme of an individuals nutritional well being.

This is a matter of how one would interpret the significance of the phrase "nutritional difference" and to what it is referring. So, for that I apologize. However, I will address those concerns brought forward. I would like to say that because the tomato findings are different this does not necessarily mean this would apply to all fruits.

I don't teach nutrition but Iɽ like to expand on this. I agree I haven't heard anything where the ripening process itself matters.

What I have seen is reports of is nutrient loss over time since harvesting. This is a report I could find with a quick search. The impression I got was that overall this is not well studied and most food storage science revolves around food safety instead.

How this applies to your question is if two pieces of fruit of equivalent ripeness is presented to you at the grocery store, and one was ripened on the plant and one was ripened on the shelf, one may be able to conclude that the one ripened on the plant was picked more recently and therefore had less time for the nutrient profile to decay.

None of those 5 sources support your claims. I just read all five. Two don't even address the issue, and the other three (one of which is only about Samoan fruits eaten by flying foxes) all contradict you. I invite you to post sources that do support your claims else you may wish to edit your post or it may be deleted for being contradicted by its own sources.

The breakdown of your citations:

First reference - does not address nutritional content of the fruit at all only discusses appearance and flavor.

Second reference - is really about flying foxes, but even so the data they present on unripe vs. ripe fruit eaten by flying foxes did find a difference: unripe fruit has less iron and more calcium than ripe fruit. None of the five plant species studied are commercially cultivated by humans all are wild Samoan species eaten by fruit bats.

3rd ref - This paper is about tomatoes. The abstract states: "Tomatoes ripened on the vine had significantly more lycopene, beta-carotene, soluble and total solids" (that is - 4 of the 5 nutritional components examined). Taking a look at their table it is clear that the lycopene and beta-carotene differences are quite large, approx 33% higher in the vine-ripened fruit.

4th ref - This one's about vitamin C and completely contradicts you. The long discussion that starts on p.211 makes clear that harvesting timing significantly affects vitamin C concentration in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. For example: "Maturity at harvest, harvesting method, and postharvest handling conditions also affect the vitamin C content of fruits and vegetable (Kader, 1988). Maturity is one of the major factors that determines the compositional quality of fruits and vegetables. Tomato fruit harvested green and ripened at 20°C to table-ripeness contained less AA [ascorbic acid, vitamin C] than those harvested at the table-ripe stage (Kader et al., 1977). Betancourt et al. (1977) also reported that tomato fruit analyzed at the ‘breaker’ stage contained only 69% of their potential AA concentration if ripened on the vine to table-ripe. Fruit accumulated AA during ripen- ing on or off the plant, but the increase was much greater for those fruit left on the plant."

5th ref - This reference only addresses organic vs. nonorganic food as far as I can tell there is nothing in it about vine-ripened vs shelf-ripened fruits.

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Sex Change

Interestingly, a male persimmon can be given a “gender reassignment” and made to bear fruit. Grafting is the ticket. During winter, “scion” wood is clipped off a known female and grafted onto a male seedling. Thereafter, any growth from the male base is suppressed and the female graft is allowed to become dominant. The result is a tree with male roots and a female crown that bears persimmon fruit. It’s actually not that difficult to do this. You’ll find instructions for persimmon grafting here.

Harvested Roots

Select tubers that are round, well shaped and free of scars, cracks, bruises or scrapes. Reject any with dark or soft spots, which indicate possible bacterial or fungal infection.

Heft the tuber in your hands to assess how heavy it is it should have plentiful water for succulent, crisp flesh. Pass over tubers with indications of reduced internal water, such as those with a wrinkled or soft appearance.

Feel the skin with your fingers to see how firm the fruit is and to assess how hard the skin is. Reject fruits that have soft skin or that are not smooth and firm.

Peel the jicama with a sharp knife if it peels easily, it is mature and ready to eat.

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Materials and Methods

Plasmid construction

The target site for CRISPR/Cas9-mediated RIPENING INHIBITOR (RIN) mutagenesis was selected using the CRISPR-P program ( (Supporting Information, Fig. S1a). The 20-bp oligos were cloned into AtU3d and AtU3b vectors and the sgRNA expression cassettes assembled into pYLCRISPR/Cas9-Ubi-H binary plasmid by Golden Gate ligation (Ma et al., 2015 ). Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transfer of T-DNA was used for stable transformation of tomato (Sun et al., 2006 Kimura and Sinha, 2008 ). For the mutation analysis, genomic DNA was extracted from young tomato leaves using a Plant Genomic DNA Kit (Tiangen, China) and used as a template to amplify the RIN fragment using PCR and the fragments sent for sequencing. The primer pairs used for vector construction and mutation analyses are listed in Table S1.

Plant material and growth conditions

Wild-type (WT) tomato (Solanum lycopersicum Alisa Craig, AC) and RIN-CRISPR seedlings were grown in a glasshouse under long-day conditions (16 h : 8 h, light : dark photperiod) at a temperature of 26°C. For gene expression analysis, organs were collected, frozen in liquid N2, and stored at −80°C until RNA extraction. Three independent samplings were performed for each measurement.

Tomato fruit nuclei isolation and Western blotting

Nuclei were isolated from tomato fruits picked at B + 5 stage and assayed for RIN protein. Fruit samples were ground into a powder under liquid N2 and the mixture was extracted with buffer (0.25 M sucrose, 10 mM Tris-HCl pH7.5, 1 mM MgCl2, 0.5% PVP, 0.5% Triton X-100, Roche protease inhibitor tablet) and the suspension filtered using miracloth (475855 Millipore, Pittsburgh, PA, USA). After centrifugation at 10 000 g for 10 min, the precipitate was washed with extraction buffer and centrifuged again at 10 000 g for 10 min, and the pellet was resuspended in percoll buffer (0.25 M sucrose, 95% Percoll, 10 mM Tris-HCl pH7.5, Roche protease inhibitor tablet). The floating layer was collected after centrifugation at 10 000 g for 10 min, diluted to 30% with extraction buffer, centrifuged at 10 000 g for 10 min, to pellet the nuclei and stored at −80°C or used for SDS-PAGE assay.

Western blotting was carried out as described (Li et al., 2018 ). Briefly, protein extracts were separated on 10% SDS-PAGE gels and transferred to a polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) membrane blocked in 5% nonfat milk for 2 h at room temperature. A specific polyclonal antibody produced in rabbit raised against the C-terminal end of RIN (amino acids 75–242) was added in a ratio of 1 : 1000 and incubated for 2 h at room temperature. Membranes were washed with Tris-buffered saline plus Tween-20 three times, 15 min each time. The anti-rabbit horseradish peroxidase secondary antibody was added at a ratio of 1 : 10 000 and incubated for 2 h at room temperature. After three washes with Tris-buffered saline plus Tween-20, the membranes were visualized using a horseradish peroxidase-enhanced chemiluminescence system.

Ethylene production measurement

For the measurement of ethylene (ET) production, each fruit was placed in a sealed gas-tight 300 ml container at 25°C for 1 h, and a 1 ml headspace gas sample was analyzed using GC (6890N GC system Agilent, Folsom, CA, USA) equipped with a flame ionization detector (Ma et al., 2016 ).

Colour measurement

A Hunter Lab Mini Scan XE Plus colorimeter (Hunter Associates Laboratory Inc., Reston, VA, USA) with the CIE L*a*b colour system was chosen for pericarp colour assay (Komatsu et al., 2016 ). At least six biological replicates were used for each assay.

Carotenoid content assay

Carotenoid extraction followed the methods reported by Xu et al. ( 2006 ) 100 mg tomato fruit samples were ground to a powder and frozen at −80°C, 250 μl methanol was added, vortexed to mix, followed by 500 μl chloroform, vortexed again and 250 μl 50 mM Tris buffer (pH 7.5, containing 1 M NaCl) was added, followed by vortexing. After centrifugation (15 000 g for 10 min at 4°C), the lower chloroform phase was collected. The chloroform extraction was repeated two or three times and the chloroform phases combined and dried under flowing N2. The residue was dissolved in 100 μl ethyl acetate (HPLC grade), and 50 μl transferred to HPLC sample analysis tubes. Carotenoid content was assayed according to the methods reported by Zheng et al. ( 2015 ): A volume of 20 μl for each sample was absorbed for HPLC analysis, carried out using a Waters liquid chromatography system (e2695) equipped with a photodiode array (PDA) detector (2998). A C30 carotenoid column (250 mm × 4.6 mm YMC, Japan) was used to elute the carotenoids with a methanol: H2O (9 : 1, v/v, eluent A) solution and methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) (100%, eluent B) solution containing 0.01% (w/v) butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT). The linear gradient program was performed as follows: 8% B to 25% B for 30 min, 25% B to 70% B for 5 min, 70% B for 5 min, and back to the initial 8% B for re-equilibration for 10 min. The flow rate was 1 ml min −1 . To avoid light degradation of carotenoids the extraction and analysis were performed under subdued light.

Firmness measurement

The firmness of the pericarp was assayed using a penetrometer (TA-XT2i texture analyzer Stable Micro Systems, Stable Micro Systems Ltd, Surrey, UK) according to the manufacturer's instructions. At least six biological replicates were used for each assay.

Volatiles assays

Measurements of volatiles were carried out according to Zhang et al. ( 2010 ), with modifications. First, 5 g of frozen flesh tissue was ground in liquid N2 and transferred to a 15-ml vial containing 5 ml of saturated sodium chloride solution. Before vials were sealed, 20 μl of 2-octanol (0.8 mg ml −1 ) was added as an internal standard and vortexed for 10 s.

For solid-phase microextraction (SPME), samples then were equilibrated at 40°C for 30 min before being exposed to a fiber coated with 50/30 μm DVB/CAR/PDMS (Supelco Co., Bellefonte, PA, USA). Volatiles were subsequently desorbed over 5 min at 230°C into the splitless injection port of the GC-flame ionization detector (FID). An Agilent 7890A GC equipped with an FID and a DB-WAX column (30 m × 0.32 mm, 0.25 μm internal diameter J&W Scientific, Folsom, CA, USA) was used for volatile analysis. Chromatography conditions were as follows: injector, 230°C initial oven temperature, 34°C held for 2 min, increased by 2°C min −1 to 60°C, then increased by 5°C min −1 to 220°C, and held for 2 min. Nitrogen was used as carrier gas at 1.0 ml min −1 . Volatiles were identified by comparison with retention times of authentic standards. Further identification of volatile compounds was by capillary gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) (7890A-5975C) performed using an HP-5 MS column (30 m × 0.25 mm, 0.25 μm J&W Scientific, Folsom, CA). Injection port temperature was 240°C, with a split ratio of 5 : 1. Helium was used as the carrier gas at a rate of 1.0 ml min −1 . The column temperature was held at 40°C for 2 min, increased by 5°C min −1 to 60°C, then increased by 10°C min −1 to 250°C, and held for 5 min. MS conditions were as follows: ion source, 230°C electron energy, 70 eV multiplier voltage, 1247 V GC-MS interface zone, 280°C and a scan range, 30–250 mass units. Volatiles were identified on the basis of a comparison of their electron ionization (EI) mass spectra to published data and data from authentic standards. Quantitative determination of compounds was carried out using the peak of the internal standard as a reference value and calculated on the basis of standard curves constructed with authentic compounds.

Ethylene, 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) and propylene treatment

Tomato fruits at the mature green (MG) stage, before any sign of colour change, were placed in an air-tight 1-l plastic container with 100 ppm ET, 1000 ppm propylene or 10 ppm 1-MCP. 1000 ppm propylene is equivalent to 10 ppm ET treatment (McMurchie et al., 1972 ) and is used in order to distinguish it from endogenous ET production by GC equipment. The treatment was conducted continually in an incubator under a 16 h : 8 h, light : dark photoperiod at 25°C, with at least three biological replicates for each treatment. RIN-CRISPR tomato fruits treated with ET for 48 h, and control WT and RIN-CRISPR treated with air, were chosen for gene expression assay using qRT-PCR. The gas environments (air, ET, propylene, 1-MCP) were replenished every 24 h.

RNA isolation and quantitative reverse transcription (qRT)-PCR

Isolation of RNA from tomato fruit pericarp at different ripening stages was as described previously (Zhu et al., 2015 ). Total RNA extraction from tomato fruit pericarp was carried out using Trizol reagent, and RNA integrity was verified by 1.5% (v/v) agar gel electrophoresis. Genomic DNA was removed from RNA preparations by digestion with DNase I (Invitrogen, cat. no. AM1907), and RNA quality and quantity were confirmed by spectrophotometry (Thermo Scientific, Waltham, MA, USA NanoDrop 1000). RNA was reverse-transcribed into cDNA using cDNA synthesis kit (Bio-RAD, cat. no. 1708890) according to the manufacturer's instructions. qRT-PCR was conducted using FastStart Essential DNA Green Master (Roche, cat. no. 06402712001) with a LightCycler480 (Roche). Relative gene expression values were calculated using the 2 -ΔΔCt method (Livak and Schmittgen, 2001 ). The tomato ACTIN gene (Solyc03g078400) was used as an internal reference gene. At least three biological replicates were included for each point, and each replicate was from independent sampling. The primer pairs used in qRT-PCR analyses are listed in Table S2.

Water loss

The water lost by tomato fruits was calculated as FW (%) = fruit weight (g) – fresh fruit weight (g)/ fresh fruit weight (g) × 100%. More than ten biological replicates were used for each assay.

Promoter sequence and motif assay

Promoter sequences 2.0 kb in length were downloaded from Sol Genomics Network (, various CArG-box elements were from Fujisawa et al. ( 2013 ). The GCC-box, a characteristic cis-element binding site for ERFs, was from Licausi et al. ( 2013 ). An AP2/ERF binding motif, ATCTA was from Welsch et al. ( 2007 ).

Statistical analysis

Microsoft Excel 2010 and S PSS (IBM SPSS Statistics, v.22 SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA) were used for statistical analyses. Duncan's multiple range test was used (P < 0.05).

WineCrisp: New Apple Was More Than 20 Years In The Making

A new, late-ripening apple named WineCrisp&trade which carries the Vf gene for scab resistance was developed over the past 20 plus years through classical breeding techniques, not genetic engineering. License to propagate trees will be made available to nurseries through the University of Illinois.

Being resistant to apple scab is a big plus for growers, said University of Illinois plant geneticist Schuyler Korban, as it significantly reduces the number of chemical fungicide sprays. "Apple scab is the number one disease that growers have to spray for &ndash 15 to 20 times per season &ndash so not having to spray for apple scab lowers the cost for the grower and is better for the environment."

Why does it take over 20 years to make an apple? "It takes a long time to develop an apple because you want to test it in different locations, you want to observe it over a number of years, and it takes awhile for an apple to get noticed," said geneticist Schuyler Korban. "I liked it the first time I saw it and I liked the flavor. It has an excellent mix of sugar and acid and a very pleasant flavor, but I was hesitant because of the finish &ndash it's not glossy."

Korban thought the finish might pose a problem because consumers are accustomed to seeing waxed fruit in stores and may not like the matte finish that Korban calls "scarfy" or dull. "Red Delicious is a very good looking apple, but has no flavor, very bland. It's still ranked as the number one apple in the industry however, there are more new apple varieties available now."

After some time, Korban decided that the crispness and the flavor would be more important factors to consumers than the finish and continued to develop the new apple.

His research, in collaboration with breeders at Rutgers and Purdue Universities, will be published in a 2009 issue of the journal of HortScience, and a U.S. patent is currently pending. The apple is available now to nurseries who want to apply for a license to propagate trees and make them available to apple growers nationwide. "There is a nursery in the southeastern part of the United States that really liked the apple and feel that there is a market for it in the south so they're getting a license to grow it."

It also takes time for a new orchard or even for an existing orchard to plant new apple varieties. But when WineCrisp&trade cuttings are grafted into a fast-growing root stock, Korban says there could be fruit on the tree in as little as three years.

Korban said that the tree is extremely productive and the fruit is firm, but it's not a bright red color. "It's more of a dark red and looks like a deep red wine so we wanted to include 'wine' in the name. It also resembles an older variety that consumers are familiar with called Winesap. "When you pick it up and squeeze it, it's very firm," he said. "We used to call it 'the Rock.' We wanted that characteristic to be in the name so we added 'crisp' and named it WineCrisp&trade.

"There's a market for apples with different flavors, different textures, different ripening and maturity dates &ndash you don't know what the likes and dislikes of the consumer will be," said Korban. "Some of our recent releases are varieties that focus on late ripening which would prolong the apple-growing season and WineCrisp&trade matures two weeks after Red Delicious. They can be harvested all the way through to the end of October. And in good cold storage, they'll keep for eight to nine months. That's another important trait of this variety &ndash it keeps very well in cold storage."

The original cross in the breeding process was done at Rutgers in 1989. The seeds were grown into seedlings and inoculated with apple scab at Purdue. Those seedlings that demonstrated resistance to apple scab were split between the three universities as a part of the Purdue-Rutgers-Illinois (PRI) Cooperative Breeding Program, which has been very successful in naming and releasing over 25 disease-resistant apple varieties, some with other collaborating partners around the world. Because the University of Illinois made the selection, U of I will be the primary licensing institution.

Funding for the research was provided by the University of Illinois and PRI.

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Materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Legal status: western countries

In different Western countries, selected ripening agents are allowed to be applied to ripen specific fruits under controlled condition. In this process, ethylene is injected to the fruit ripening chambers in a controlled manner, to help instigating the ripening process [1].

North America

In USA, the United States’ NOSB [National Organic Standard Board] recommends the use of ethylene for post-harvest ripening of tropical fruits and de-greening of citrus this is stated in the ‘Formal Recommendation by the National Organic Standard Board (NOSB) to the Organic Program (NOP)’ [17]. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows the use of ethylene as plant growth regulator and herbicide. Additionally, ethylene is exempt from the requirement of a tolerance (maximum residue level) when used as a growth regulator on fruits and vegetables [71].

The regulations set by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) imposes that no person shall market, produce, import, export, or take part in interprovincial trade of fruits and vegetables unless it is not contaminated, edible, free of any live insect or other living thing that may be injurious to health, and produced hygienically [12]. CFIA gives more emphasis on ensuring the quality of water used in food and vegetable processing the following features are suggested to ensure production under hygienic conditions:

No stagnant or polluted water should be used in the washing or fluming of the produce

Only potable water is to be used in the final rinsing of the produce to remove any surface contaminant before packing

The final rinse water, if reused, is used only in the initial washing or fluming of the product.


United Kingdom’s Soil Association permits the use of ethylene to ripen bananas and kiwi [Soil Association Organic Standards, rev 16.4, June 2011] [19]. The UK Food Safety Act enacted in 1990 imposes that any person who renders any food injurious to health by means of any of the operations—adding any article or substance to the food, using any article or substance as an ingredient in the preparation of the food, abstracting any constituent from the food, and subjecting the food to any other process or treatment with intent that it shall be sold for human consumption, shall be guilty of an offense [14].

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) under the regulation (EC) No 396/2005 developed the Standard Sample Description (SSD), which is a standardized model for the reporting of harmonized data on analytical measurements of chemical substances present in food, feed, and water [72]. As an attempt to make significant reforms of the Common Market Organization (CMO) for certain agricultural products, the European Union extended its approach to the promotion, quality, and marketing standards for fresh and processed fruit and vegetables. Provisions for a management committee that apply to the fruit and vegetable sector as well as a range of other agricultural products came into effect from January 1, 2008, under Council Regulation (EC) No. 1234/2007. Key objectives of the regulation are as follows [73]:

Improvement of product quality

Boosting products’ commercial value

Promotion of products, whether in a fresh or processed form

Environmental measures and methods of production respecting the environment, including organic farming

Crisis prevention and management.

Other international organizations

Evidently, the laws in different developed countries do not completely prohibit using artificial ripening agents, and often permit the control use of ethylene gas for artificial fruit ripening. The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements’ (IFOAM) enlists ethylene gas as ‘Only for ripening fruits’ in the IFOAM Indicative List of Substances for Organic Production and Processing. Similarly, the Asia Regional Organic Standard (AROS) developed by Global Organic Market Access (GOMA) (a project of FAO), IFOAM, and UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) permit the usage of ethylene for the ripening of kiwifruit, bananas, and other tropical fruits [74].

P. peruviana: One of the main drawbacks of P. peruviana seems to be the long growing season required before fruits can be harvested. Production of fruit can also be somewhat moderate. In addition, reliable sources for seed are limited. Some of these issues are being addressed by Dr. Durner in his trials.

An advantage of P. peruviana is that the plants are larger and more upright and that the fruit does not abscise when ripe, giving more control and easier conditions (not stooping on the ground) for harvesting. On the other hand, because they don’t abscise when ripe, they must be cut off the plant, which makes harvest more time consuming.

P. pruinosa: Ground cherry gives the grower a much longer harvest window and seems to be more productive than P. peruviana. There is also ample and varied sources of seed, though there is little documentation about specific differences between varieties. The major disadvantage of P. pruinosa is the very low, sprawling habit of the plant, which makes harvest difficult.

Mike Brown is the owner of Pitspone Farm — a small-acreage berry farm and nursery in central New Jersey.