Honeycrisp storage for 2011

As we head into the Honeycrisp harvest season, and a big crop at that, it’s time to consider what might be the best strategy for your Honeycrisp storage.

It’s very well recognized that Honeycrisp fruit are quite sensitive to the low temperatures commonly used for apple storage. Storage at 38°F helps to reduce the disorders of soft scald and soggy breakdown. Holding the fruit a few days at elevated temperatures improves storability even further. Our best current recommendation is to precondition for five days at 50°F and store at 38°F, but only if the fruit is expected to have a low propensity to develop bitter pit. With a relatively big crop this year, bitter pit incidence should be low. While storage for up to six or seven months has been successfully reported, Honeycrisp can probably be expected to hold its best quality in air storage for no more than four or five months.

SmartFresh has successfully been used for Honeycrisp, helping to prevent over ripening, but caution should be exercised to refrain from selling SmartFresh-treated fruit too soon after harvest, so that the fruit will have a chance to develop its characteristic aroma. Controlled atmosphere storage for extending the marketing season is an alternative that is being explored commercially and in the laboratory. Honeycrisp are sensitive to both low O2 and elevated CO2, but especially the latter. It’s a little too early to make a firm recommendation, but we have had some success in the lab using preconditioning and the use of diphenylamine to suppress the CO2 injury.

If you are going to use CA, it is advisable to extend the preconditioning for an extra two days. The CA conditions used successfully are 1.5 to 3 percent O2 with 1 percent CO2 for the first month if DPA is not used. CO2 can be allowed to increase to 3 percent after the first month of storage. Because the fruit are sensitive to CO2,be sure to ventilate well while the fruit are in the preconditioning room and being readied for storage – turn on the O2 and CO2 analyzers and make sure the CO2 stays low.

Dr. Beaudry’s work is funded in part by MSU’s AgBioResearch.

Read other articles and related resources on apple maturity.