The Bureau of Postharvest Research and Extension (BPRE) advises farmers to prevent the deterioration of perishable crops like fruits and vegetables. The products must be of good quality even before harvest. This is because production practices have a tremendous effect on crop quality. This quality must be maintained through appropriate postharvest handling as they reach the consumers.
BPRE specialists tell us that recommended postharvest handling technologies and practices can no longer cure prior damage and injury suffered by the harvest. Farmers must understand that respiration, loss of moisture, and microbial growth induce quality deterioration of perishable crops. Thus, these must be minimized to attain optimum shelf life of fruits and vegetables.
During respiration, sugars, fats, proteins and other food reserves in the product are converted into metabolic energy needed to keep plant tissues alive and functioning. Since respiration uses oxygen and produces carbon dioxide and water vapor, the respiration rate of a product determines its transit and postharvest life. The higher the rate of respiration, the faster the product losses moisture, and the faster it deteriorates.