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Nectarine, Prunus persica var. nectarina / Rosaceae
Postharvest Atmosphere Management
Nectarines must be harvested in their optimal stage of maturation. If they are still green, they must not be stored in cold storage rooms, since they stop the evolution to maturity.

The nectarines may reach the maximum degree of self-life if they are stored at approximately 0ºC, thus ranging from 1 and 5 weeks according to the cultivars. The internal degradation is the greater limitation for the fruit self-life. The culture practices to which the nectarine tree is subject have a greater importance when determining the quality of the fruit and its storage potential. The nectarines of smaller size are generally those that have grown in the external part of the tree crown and have a longer self-life than those of larger size which have grown inside the crown.

A method that is often used is the application of ethylene to the fruit harvested in the optimal degree of maturation; this will bring about a greater uniformity of the fruit maturation, without accelerating its rate. Few cultivars may require the application of ethylene in order to have a satisfactory maturation. Nevertheless, this method is hardly used, since it has an enormous economic cost.

The application of controlled atmospheres during the storage and packing brings along the maintenance of the fruit firmness and colour. Nevertheless, as for the application of ethylene, this method is not used at a commercial level.
Postharvest Problems
The nectarines may show during their storage some physiological alterations and diseases.
The most important physiological alterations are:

- Chilling injuries: internal degradation that shows a darkening of the pulp, loss of taste and and mealy texture. These symptoms usually occur during the maturation at the consumer’s home, after a period of storage in cold storage rooms. These damages occur to fruit which has been stored at temperatures around 2,2 and 7,6ºC.

- Black colouring (Inking): it is an aesthetic problem that affects only the skin, occurring 24-48 hours after the harvesting. It consists of black or dark brown spots caused by damages occurred when rubbing during the postharvest handling or in the warehouses. In order to prevent these alterations the fruit must be carefully handled.

The most important diseases are:

- Brown rot: caused by the fungus Monilinia fructicola; it is the most important postharvest disease. It is easily recognized since it begins with a dark brown wet spot that spreads very fast all over the fruit, turning into a wet and soft rot. The spots are covered afterwards with a white cottony mould that gives off a bitter scent similar to vinegar. This disease occurs after the harvesting, although in many cases the infection has begun at the flowering period. In order to prevent this disease it is recommended to apply fungicides in the preharvest time and to cool right after the harvest.

- Grey mould: caused by Botrytis cinerea, it also occurs at the consumer’s home and it is characterized by a cottony greyish mould. In many cases, it occurs in areas which have been injured or damaged during the harvest and as a result of the contamination of other damaged fruit.

- Rhizopus rot: caused by Rhizopus stolonifer and characterized by a brown but dry tissue, as it happens with brown rot, which can be easily removed from the healthy tissue. A way to prevent the disease is by cooling the fruit or keeping it below 5ºC.
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