Science Into Practice - Better storage for Gala apples

In response to increased UK production of Gala apples, the industry needed to develop improved storage protocols to maintain fruit quality and improve flavour retention from harvest through until June.

AHDB Project TF 221 "Extending the marketing period of Gala apples, Phase 2: Orchard and storage management practices to optimise", managed by Richard Colgan and Debbie Rees of Greenwich National Resource Institute, assessed fruit picked from different Mondial and Shinga Gala orchards on 8, 9, 12 and 13 September 2014, with starch levels of 80-90 and 70-75 per cent, and compared their storage in different regimes for different durations.

Orchards with a high dry matter content (15.5-16 per cent) produced fruit with the highest Brix (13.5 per cent) at harvest that remained stable during prolonged storage until April and June. Co-ordinated taste panel assessments comparing UK and southern hemisphere fruit showed that late stored Gala scored as well as imported fruit in late April (2015). Although there was a slight decline in scores by June, the corresponding scores recorded for imported samples were both higher and lower than UK samples.

The controlled atmosphere regimes of 5/1 (1.5 degsC) without SmartFresh SM and 5/1 (0.5 degsC) with SmartFresh SM, and the dynamic controlled atmosphere (DCA) regime of three per cent CO2 and 0.4 per cent O2, provided fruit with the best eating quality in April - as good as imported Gala.

The controlled atmosphere regimes of three per cent CO2 and two per cent O2 + SmartFresh SM and the DCA regime five per cent CO2 and 0.4 per cent O2 were the highest ranked for maintaining fruit quality through to June.

Early harvesting and rapid establishment of controlled atmosphere regimes for Gala help to retain quality for longer in store.

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