Research Article

Evaluation of Packaging Materials for Transportation of Apple Fruits in CFB Boxes  

G.D. Subedi , D.M. Gautam , D.R. Baral , G.B. K C , K.P. Paudyal
1 Horticulture Research Division, Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC), Lalitpur, Nepal
2 Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur , Katmandú, Nepal
Author    Correspondence author
International Journal of Horticulture, 2017, Vol. 7, No. 8   doi: 10.5376/ijh.2017.07.0008
Received: 28 Dec., 2016    Accepted: 16 Mar., 2017    Published: 15 Apr., 2017
© 2017 BioPublisher Publishing Platform
This is an open access article published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Preferred citation for this article:

Subedi G.D., Gautam D.M., Baral D.R., K C G.B., and Paudyal K.P., 2017, Evaluation of packaging materials for transportation of apple fruits in CFB boxes, International Journal of Horticulture, 7(8): 54-63 (doi: 10.5376/ijh.2017.07.0008)

Abstract

Studies were carried out for two consecutive years (2013-2014) to identify appropriate packaging materials for transportation of apples. Fruits of Red Delicious cultivar harvested on 3rd week of September were packed in different types of corrugated fiber board (CFB) boxes and transported from HRS, Rajikot, Jumla, Nepal (2390 m a.s.l., 29°17’ N, 82°13’ E) to Kohalpur, Banke, Nepal (215 km mountainous gravel road, 48 hours) by truck. The treatments were 10 kg capacity 5 ply and 7 ply CFB boxes having 140 psi, 160 psi and 180 psi bursting strength. To compare with conventional and government recommended practices, the fruits were also packed in 3 ply Beer cartons (conventional practice) and 7 ply 20 kg capacity CFB boxes (Government recommendation). The experiment was designed as eight treatments randomized completely with three replications. After transportation, fruits were stored as such condition in cold store at 5±1°C and 95% RH for one month. After storage, observations were made on physiological loss in weight (PLW), damage fruits, fruit quality and economic analysis. There was more than 50% reduction in PLW in all packaging treatments as compared to conventional one (3.8%). Similarly, total damaged fruits were highest (21.6%) in conventional practice which was reduced to 6.0 to 12.0% in other treatments. Among the treatments, 7 ply 180 psi bursting strength CFB box was the best to retain fruit quality. Besides reduction in postharvest loss and better quality fruits, higher gross return, higher benefit cost ratio was received from the improved technology. The use of 7 ply 180 psi CFB boxes has an additional benefit of NRs. 70625 (US $ 666) per 5000 kg fruits (1 truckload load). Higher cost of CFB boxes could be an important obstacle in adoption of improved technology; hence provision should be made from the government to subsidize for packaging materials to encourage adoption of improved technology.

Keywords
Brushing; Bursting strength; CFB boxes; Hedonic rating; Potential added benefit

1 Introduction

Apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) is a deciduous plant in Rose family, an economically important pomaceous fruit. Apple fruits have colorful appearance, crispy flesh, pleasant flavor and sweet taste. It has been originated in Central Asia, where its wild ancestor Malus sieversii is still found today (Hancock et al., 2008). Apples have been grown for thousands of years in Asia and Europe; were brought to Indian sub-continent by European colonists. There are more than 7 500 cultivars and it is one of the most grown fruit in the temperate zones of all over the world (Martinelli et al., 2008). Apples have religious and mythological significance in many cultures including Norse, Greek and European Christian traditions. The proverb “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” addresses the health benefit of fruit. Consumption of apple has shown better health to prevent a variety of chronic diseases and lung cancer, asthma, diabetes and ischemic heart disease which is mainly due to large content of structural cell walls and polysaccharides along with the various phyto-chemical antioxidants (Device et al., 2010). Apple is a leading deciduous fruit grown successfully in high hill areas from east to far west of Nepal. In Nepal, apple can be grown in 54 districts; however, only 12 districts grow apple commercially of which Jumla district ranked the number one in terms of area and production (Subedi et al., 2012).

 

Red Delicious is a widely adapted commercial cultivar of apple. In Nepal, climate is very much suitable for the production of apple. Efforts have been made to increase production in high hills and mountains. However, because of transportation problems, the produced fruits do not reach to the market in normal condition. Postharvest losses due to inappropriate packaging are very high. Despite of great potentiality for production, at present 99.0% of the apple fruits in the market are imported from China and India. To replace import, Nepal has to develop its own packaging and transportation mechanism. Apple growers of Nepal have not been receiving anticipated level of income because of higher postharvest loss due to inappropriate traditional postharvest handling practices. Large amount of fruit losses occurs after harvest and minimizing this loss could save over 25.0% of produce (Gurung, 1998). Gautam et al. (2004) reported that 58.2% apple fruits damage during harvesting, handling, transportation and distribution due to inadequate postharvest handling technology. All the apple production areas are located in the higher hills, from where usually the fruits are harvested and transported to collection centers on conical bamboo baskets by the porters and thereafter to distance market in different CFB boxes and gunny sacks. Fruits bruise easily due to scratch, compression, impact and vibration forces during transportation also lead to the damages. The damages may not be apparent and visible to naked eyes immediately after transport; however become visible after storage. Moreover scratches and wounds created during transport are the avenue for the entry of microorganism for the development of disease and rotting. Thus damaged fruits have short storage life as compared to undamaged healthy fruits.

 

In Nepal, present packaging system for apple fruit is unsuitable and unscientific. The use of traditional forms of packages like bamboo baskets; reused Beer cartons, noodle cartons, Chinese apple cartons and gunny sacks are still prevalent which are not convenient containers for packaging, handling, transporting and marketing of fresh apple for distant market. Rough surface and sharp edge of bamboo baskets cause bruising and scaring; inconvenience in handling and stacking during transportation.

 

Among different packaging containers, CFB boxes are capable of withstanding various shipping and transportation hazards (impact, compression and vibration damages, moisture, etc.), attractive, light weight; provide cushioning and good stacking strength and excellent cushioning for product protection, offers better retention of shelf life, quality of product and better printability which helps in efficient marketing (Salunkhe et al., 1995). One of the important functions of CFB boxes is to provide crush resistance / product protection and adequate strength for stacking in warehouses. The use of CFB boxes is being made to limited extent in Nepal. Some traders and cooperatives have initialed to use CFB boxes for packaging and transportation of apple to long distance market; however packaging containers and packaging methods have not been standardized yet. Apple growers, cooperatives and traders still use 3 ply Beer cartons and 7 ply CFB boxes of 20 kg capacity recommended by Fruit Development Directorate of Department of Agriculture (FDD) to pack and transport apples. At present, nearest cold storage is located in Kohalpur, Banke, Nepal which is far from the production site. Fruits are usually stored in cold storage by traders and released periodically for marketing. Postharvest brushing damage of apple fruits is a serious problem for growers. To overcome this problem, research has been undertaken to identify appropriate packaging materials for transportation of apple fruits from the production center to the distant market and thereafter on storage in a prime form and fresh condition so that bruising process can be managed or controlled more effectively.

 

2 Material and Methods

Studies were carried out for two consecutive years (2013-2014) to identify appropriate packaging material for transportation of Red Delicious apple from HRS, Rajikot, Jumla, Nepal to Kohalpur, Banke, Nepal. Fruits were harvested at commercial maturity stage from HRS, Rajikot, Jumla (2390 m a.s.l., 29°17’N, 82°13’E) and transported to Kohalpur, Banke, Nepal in different types of CFB boxes. To compare with conventional and other methods, two existing practices were also included as treatments; these were 7 ply CFB box of 20 kg capacity recommended by FDD and 3 ply Beer carton as local practice (two plies of cardboard papers and one ply of fluted paper glutted alternately. Six different types of 10 kg capacity CFB boxes (300 mm x 250 mm x 295 mm) having different plies with different bursting strength were manufactured at Sahara packaging private limited, Jorpati, Kathmandu, Nepal. They were; 5 ply CFB boxes (two outer plies and one intermediate ply of cardboard papers, two plies of fluted paper glutted alternately) with 140 psi, 160 psi, 180 psi bursting strength, 7 ply CFB boxes (two outer plies and two intermediate plies of cardboard papers, three plies of fluted papers glutted alternately) with 140 psi, 160 psi, 180 psi bursting strength. To compare with conventional and other methods, two existing practices were also included as treatments; these were 7 ply CFB box of 20 kg capacity recommended by FDD and 3 ply Beer carton as local practice (two plies of cardboard papers and one ply of fluted paper glutted alternately). Four holes of 20 mm diameter were made on both sides of the CFB boxes at 5.5 mm and 18.5 mm height for exchange of gases. Uniform sized 64 and 140 apple fruits were arranged in 4 layers separated by five deck plates in 10 kg and 20 kg capacity CFB boxes respectively. CFB boxes were sealed with carton tape first, then diagonally sealed by carton sealing and strapping machine (Golden Eagle); transported to truck (200 m walking distance) by porters on their head. CFB boxes were loaded randomly; stacked in 4 layers inside the truck after spreading of HDPE tarpaulin at the base; shipped by truck to Kohalpur, Banke, Nepal (215 km mountainous gravel road, 48 hours) and then stored for one month in cold storage at 5±1°C and 95% RH. Since the effect of packing material is not prominent immediately after transportation, the fruits were stored for one month for observation.

 

After one month storage, consumer’s acceptability (Lim, 2011) was recorded by a panel of 10 judges on the basis of hedonic rating (9-like extremely; 8-like very much; 7-like moderately; 6-like slightly; 5-neither like nor dislike; 4-dislike slightly; 3-dislike moderately; 2-dislike very much; 1-dislike extremely). Firmness of fruit was measured with hand penetrometer (FT-327, Italy) having plunger diameter of 11mm. Total soluble solids (°brix) was recorded with hand refractometer (Erma, Japan) calibrated at 20°C. Titratable acidity was determined by titration 5 ml juice with 0.1 N sodium hydroxide using phenolphthalein as an indicator (AOAC, 1990). Starch iodine test was performed to determine the conversion pattern of starch into sugars (Reid et al., 1982). Iodine solution was prepared by dissolving 10 g of iodine crystals and 25 g of potassium iodide in 1 liter of distilled water.

 

Fruits (n=10) were cut at right angles to the core, approximately halfway from stem to calyx end; Iodine solution was applied to cut surface, drained away any excess and rated fruit staining after two minutes by using 0-6 scales [0-all tissue zones stained (all starch); 1-clearing within the core flesh, particularly between adjacent seed carpel; 2-clearing has extended to the core line and started to extend into the regions between core line vascular bundles; 3-clearing has continued between the core line vascular bundles, while tissue surrounding the core line vascular bundles and in the outer cortex remain stained; 4-clearing has continued into the outer cortex, but not to the skin. Most core line vascular bundles and associated tissue which remain stained are surrounded by unstained cortical tissue; 5-clearing has extended  to within a few mm of the skin and unstained zones around the core line vascular bundle, where they exist, started to contract; 6-no staining (no starch)].

 

The experiment was designed as eight treatments randomized completely with three replications, each replication comprising of 64 and 140 fruits according to capacity of CFB box. Observations were recorded for PLW, damage incurred due to bruising and spoilage during transportation and subsequent storage. Spoilage was considered for unacceptable fruit loss while some fruits which were damaged partially were accepted at 50% lower price, an equivalent loss were calculated. Economic analysis of best and existing packing methods were calculated assuming 50% lower price of damaged fruits in the market. Physicochemical studies on quality parameters were performed at RARS, Khajura, Banke, Nepal. Data were pooled and analyzed statistically using GenStat software version 10.3 (VSN, 2011).

 

3 Results and Discussion

3.1 Physiological Loss in Weight (%)

PLW of apple fruits among the tested packaging containers was highly significant during transportation and storage. Maximum PLW (3.8%) was observed in 3 ply Beer cartons followed by 7 ply FFD CFB boxes (1.9%) while minimum (1.5%) in other treatments (Table 1). Maximum PLW in 3 ply Beer carton might be due to inadequate strength which increased damage to carton surface resulted more water loss due to higher evapo-transpiration and respiration (Gautam and Bhattarai, 2012). Mohammed et al. (2016) reported that moisture loss of a single bruised apple may be increased by as much as 400% compared to that of an intact apple.

 

Table 1 Effect of packaging materials on PLW, total damage, spoilage and acceptable damage of Red delicious apple during transportation and subsequent storage for one month at Bheri cold store, Kohalpur, Banke, Nepal for two consecutive years (2013-2014)

 

3.2 Total Damage, Spoilage Loss, Acceptable Damage, Equivalent Loss and Total Postharvest Loss

Total number of damaged fruits among the tested CFB cartons due to bruising, scaring and spoilage during transportation and storage was highly significant (Table 1; Table 2). Minimum number of total damaged fruits was observed in 7 ply 180 psi CFB boxes (6.0%) followed by 7 ply 160 psi CFB boxes (6.2%) while maximum in 3 ply Beer cartons (21.6%). Likewise, minimum spoilage loss or unacceptable damage (2.0%) was observed in 7 ply 180 psi CFB boxes followed by 7 ply 160 psi CFB boxes (2.2%) while maximum in 3 ply Beer cartons (10.7%). Minimum acceptable or partially damaged fruits were observed (4.0%) in 7 ply 180/160 psi CFB boxes while maximum (10.9%) in 3 ply Beer cartons. Minimum equivalent loss (50% of acceptable or partially damaged fruits) was observed (2.0%) in 7 ply 180/160 psi CFB boxes while maximum (5.5%) in 3 ply Beer cartons.

 

Table 2 Postharvest losses of Red delicious apple fruits in existing value chain (EVC) and improved value chain (IVC) scenarios in the mid western development region of Nepal during 2013-2014

Note: *Damaged fruits were priced 50% lower than sound fruits

 

Total postharvest loss was maximum in 3 ply Beer cartons (20.0%) followed by 7 ply FFD CFB boxes (11.0%) while minimum in 7 ply 180 psi CFB boxes (5.5%). Maximum damages in 3 ply Beer carton might be due to inadequate cushioning and strength which increased the damage to internal tissues during transportation. Seven ply CFB box of 20 kg capacity recommended by FDD was not acceptable container for packaging of apple fruits because of high postharvest loss; inconvenience in handling during transportation, storage and marketing; and unaffordable price for the consumers. CFB Box of 10 kg capacity having 7 ply 180 PSI bursting strength was easily accepted by the farmers groups, cooperatives, traders and consumers in Nepalese context because of convenience in handling; minimum brushing, scaring, spoilage damage; high storability, affordable price, better retention of fruit quality.

 

The scratches or minor wounds may not be apparently visible immediately after transportation however it has significant influence during storage. The fruit skin in apples consists of the cuticle, epidermis and several layers of hypodermis. Both skin and its waxy coat are of significant importance during transportation and storage. The most important function of the epidermis and cuticle is to protect the fruit surface against environmental stresses such as wind, temperature, drought, chemicals, insects, and microorganisms throughout the fruit life on the tree and later, after harvest, during transportation and storage (Tukey et al., 1942; Babos et al., 1984). Compression damage may occur in lower depth of the container as a result of load of upper fruits, while impact damage may occur due to rough handling on the surface of fruits, and vibration forces usually occur during transportation. Packaging container might have effect on the damage of fruits. The fruits are compressed in the bottom layers as well as sides of the carton during transportation and storage which caused damages. There have been several other studies related to the damage caused by transportation hazards. Highest bruising damage and spoilage on 3 ply 120 psi Beer cartons obtained from this study are also supported by the finding by Gautam et al. (2004) and Shrestha (1996). Paudel et al. (2016) reported that maximum damage (32.5%) was observed on control while minimum (17.5%) on paper wrapped fruits after 60 days of storage.

 

3.3 Hedonic Rating and Juice Content

At maturity stage, mean overall preference was 8.7 (Figure 1). Overall preference of fruits among the tested CFB boxes increased during transportation and storage. Minimum overall preference (8.4) was recorded in 3 ply Beer cartons followed by 7 ply FFD CFB boxes (8.6) while maximum in other treatments due to ripening which increase the appearance, crispiness, taste and aroma of fruits. Minimum sensory score maintained by 3 ply Beer cartons might be due to inadequate strength and cushioning which increased the physical damage to apple fruits during transportation. 7 ply CFB boxes of 20 kg capacity recommended by FFD was not appropriate container because of more postharvest losses, inconvenience in handling and unaffordable price for the consumers. At maturity stage, mean juice content was 69.5% (Figure 1) while juice content of apples decreased during storage ranging from 60.5-66.0% irrespective of packaging materials; it was higher in 7 ply 140 psi CFB boxes while lowest in 3 ply Beer cartons. Minimum juice content in 3 ply Beer carton might be due to inadequate strength and cushioning which increased physical damage to apple fruits resulted more water loss due to higher evapo-transpiration and respiration during transportation. Another reason for low juice content of fruits packed in 3 ply Beer carton is due to Softening of fruits due to lack of ventilation which is an undesirable ripening process as firmer apples tend to be juicier, crispier , crunchier and less mealy than softer fruit. CFB Box of 10 kg capacity having 7 ply 180 psi bursting strength was easily accepted by the farmers groups, cooperatives, traders and consumers because better retention of physical appearance, crispiness, taste, aroma, firmness and juice content. Of the different stages of development (growth, maturation, ripening, and senescence), apple fruits are considered horticulturally mature during maturation and early stages of ripening (Watada et al., 1984).

 

Figure 1 Hedonic rating and juice content of Red delicious apple before transportation and after one month storage (5±1°C, 95% RH) at Bheri cold store, Kohalpur, Banke, Nepal for two consecutive years (2013-2014)

 

3.4 Total Soluble Solids (TSS), Titratable Acidity (TA) and TSS:TA Ratio

At maturity stage, mean TSS, TA and TSS / TA of fruits were 10.6%, 0.25% and 43 respectively. TSS of fruits increased during transportation and storage (Figure 2). Highest TSS was noticed in 3 ply Beer cartons and 7 ply FFD CFB boxes (14.5%) while lower in other treatments (14.1-14.2%). TSS of apple is a major quality parameter which is positively correlated with texture and composition. Increase in TSS could be attributed to breakdown of starch into sugars or hydrolysis of cell wall polysaccharides (Weibel et al., 2004). Level of TA decreased during transportation and storage (Figure 2). Lowest TA was recorded in 3 ply Beer cartons (0.20%) which may be due to more physical damage to fruits resulting faster ripening while highest in other treatments (0.22-0.24%). Reduction of TA during transportation and storage might be due to conversion of organic acid into reducing sugars during fruit ripening process. Malic acid is the major acid in apple juice plays a major role in flavor attribute (Ben et al., 1985). The level of TSS:TA ratio increased during transportation and storage (Figure 2). Higher TSS:TA ratio (74.4) was recorded 3 ply Beer cartons while lower (59.0-67.3) in others treatments. This might be due to conversion of organic acid into sugars during fruit ripening process. Excessive increase in TSS:TA ratio in 3 ply Beer cartons may cause imbalance resulting poor sensory rating due to development of slight bitterness and mealiness. Due to absence of ventilation in 3 ply Beer cartons, anaerobic condition favors quick fermentation of fruits. Mahajan (1994) reported that many biochemical changes take place during storage which disturbs the TSS:TA ratio ultimately rendering the fruit unacceptable.

 

Figure 2 Quality parameters of Red delicious apple before transportation and after one month storage (5±1°C, 95% RH) at Bheri cold store, Kohalpur, Banke, Nepal for two consecutive years (2013-2014)

 

3.5 Fruit Firmness, Starch Index and Blush intensity

At maturity stage, mean firmness was 8.1 kg/cm2. Firmness of fruits decreased after transportation and storage (Figure 2). Lowest firmness was recorded in 3 ply Beer cartons (6.2 kg/cm2) while higher in other treatments. This evidence indicates that fruits packed in 3 ply Beer cartons degraded faster due to low aeration as well as more physical damage during transportation. A major quality problem of apples in the market is soft fruit which is typically assessed using a puncture test, also known as a flesh firmness, fruit firmness, or fruit pressure test. Softening is generally considered an undesirable ripening process in apple fruit, as firmer apples tend to be juicier, crispier , crunchier and less mealy than softer fruit. The softening of flesh during storage could be due to the degradation of soluble pectin by high activity of endo-poly-galacturonase enzyme in fruits (Jason et al., 2002; Harker et al., 2002). Jaeger et al. (1998) reported that apples that have crisp, juicy texture and prolong shelf life are highly preferred by the consumers. At maturity stage, average starch index of apple fruits was 4.1. Starch index increased (level of starch decreased) during transportation and storage (Figure 2). Higher starch index (5.8) was recorded in 3 ply Beer cartons followed by 7 ply FDD CFB boxes (5.7) while lower (5.5) in other treatments. Higher starch index (5.8) in fruits packed in 3 ply Beer cartons might be due to more physical damage resulted more conversion of starch into reducing sugars. At maturity stage, average blush intensity was 62.5% with respect to packaging materials. Blush intensity increased during transportation and storage (Figure 2). Highest blush intensity (77.5%) in 3 ply Beer cartons while lowest (75.0%) in others might be due to absence of ventilation by which anaerobic condition favors fermentation and conversion of chlorophyll into colored pigments.

 

3.6 Economic Analysis

Minimum postharvest loss (5.5% ) was observed in 7 ply 180 psi CFB boxes (improved practice) while maximum (20.0% ) in 3 ply Beer cartons (existing practice). Lowest net return (NRs 200000 per truckload) was observed in 3 ply Beer cartons while highest (NRs 270625 per truckload) in 7 ply 180 psi CFB boxes. With prospects of loss reduction, improved packaging method sounds the best technology. PLW (3.8%), spoilage loss (10.7%), losses due to 50% decrease in the market value of fruits was 5.5% in 3 ply Beer cartons making a total of 20.0% loss which was reduced to 5.5% in 7 ply 180 psi CFB boxes. Economic analysis shows that higher BC Ratio (1.8) was obtained in 7 ply 180 psi CFB boxes while lower (1.5) in 3 ply Beer cartons. If the traders replace the conventional system of packaging fruits in 3 ply Beer carton by improved one, they can gain additional benefit of NRs 70625 (US $ 666) per truckload (Table 3).

 

Table 3 Economic analysis of Red delicious apple packaging and transportation from HRS, Rajikot, Jumla, Nepal to Bheri cold store, Kohalpur, Banke, Nepal in existing value chain (EVC) and improved value chain (IVC) scenarios during 2013-2014

Note: *1 US $=NRs.106

 

4 Conclusions

Based on the above evidence, we can conclude that CFB box recommended by Fruit Development Directorate (7 ply CFB boxes of 20 kg capacity) was not acceptable container because of more postharvest loss, inconvenience in handling and unaffordable price for the consumers. CFB box of 10 kg capacity with 7 ply 180 psi bursting strength was identified as the most desirable, efficacious and appropriate container easily accepted by the farmers groups, cooperatives, traders and consumers in Nepalese context for packaging and transportation of apple fruits from production sites to distant markets and warehouses by truck because of convenience in handling and stacking; minimum scratching, brushing and spoilage damages; high storability; better retention of appearance, crispiness, taste, aroma and fruit firmness; high BC ratio and affordable price for the consumers. Thus, 7 ply 180 psi CFB boxes have high shock bearing capacity during long distance transportation in rough road. Economic analysis shows that if the traders replace the conventional system of packaging fruits by improved one, they can gain additional benefit of NRs. 70625 (US $ 666) per truckload (Table 3).

 

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