University of California

Fruit English


Recommendations for Maintaining Postharvest Quality


Elizabeth J. Mitcham, Carlos H. Crisosto and Adel A. Kader

Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis

Maturity & Quality

Maturity Indices

Skin color and soluble solids content (SSC) are the main criteria used to judge fruit maturity. Minimum maturity in California requires that the entire cherry surface have a minimum of light red color and/or 14 to 16% SSC, depending on the variety. The red mahogany stage is recommended for harvest of Brooks, Garnet, Ruby, Tulare and King varieties.

Quality Indices
  • Taste is related to SSC, titratable acidity (TA) and the ratio of SSC/TA
  • Freedom from cracks, bird pecks, shriveling, decay or misshappen fruit (doubles, spurs)
  • Green fleshy stems are often associated with freshness and quality

Maturity & Quality Photos



Title: Color Chart

Photo Credit: Kader, Adel: University of California, Davis


Title: Maturity Stages

Photo Credit: Edwards, Don: University of California, Davis

Temperature & Controlled Atmosphere

Optimum Temperature

-0.5 ± 0.5°C (31 ± 1°F)

Optimum Relative Humidity

90-95%; high humidity is particularly important to maintain green stem color.

Rates of Respiration Production
Temperature 0°C (32°F) 5°C (41°F) 10°C (50°F) 20°C (68°F)
ml CO2/kg·hr 3-5 5-9 15-17 22-28

To calculate heat production multiply ml CO2/kg·hr by 440 to get Btu/ton/day or by 122 to get kcal/metric ton/day.

Rates of Ethylene
Responses to Ethylene

Cherry response to ethylene is minimal. Ethylene does not accelerate cherry ripening.

Responses to Controlled Atmospheres (CA)

CA reduces respiration rate and thereby increases postharvest life. Elevated CO2 suppresses decay development. Modified atmosphere packaging within boxes has been very successful. Successful atmospheres are generally within the following ranges:

  • 3 to 10% O2
  • 10 to 15% CO2
  • <1% O2 can result in skin pitting and off-flavors
  • >30% CO2 can result in brown skin discoloration and off-flavors

Flavor volatiles may be reduced following several weeks of CA storage resulting in fruit of good visual quality but poor sensory quality.

Temperature & Controlled Atmosphere Photos

Cherry_CA _effects1500x1014

Title: CA Effects on Cherry

Photo Credit: Edwards, Don: University of California, Davis


Physiological and Physical Disorders

Pitting. An indentation in the surface of the fruit caused by the collapse of cells under the skin. Thought to result from impact injury.

Bruising.Results from compression and impact of the fruit.

Postharvest life is closely related to respiration rate. Respiration rate increases as a result of increased temperature and physical injury.

Pathological Disorders

Brown Rot. Caused by Monilinia fruticola, disease can begin in the orchard or postharvest. Pre and postharvest control measures are necessary.

Grey Mold. Caused by Botrytis cinerea, a fungus that continues to grow slowly at 0°C (32°F).

Rhizopus Rot. Caused by Rhizopus stolonifer, a fungus that is found in fruit exposed to temperatures of 5°C (41°F) or greater. Proper temperature management (rapid cooling to optimum storage temperature) can completely control Rhizopus Rot.

Brown Rot and Grey Mold. Proper temperature management (rapid cooling to optimum storage temperature) can significantly reduce Brown Rot and Grey Mold

Eliminating injured and diseased fruit from the packed box is important. Fungicide treatments, pre and postharvest are often beneficial.

[For more information, see our publication “Fruit Ripening and Ethylene Management”, available for purchase using our Publication order form.]

Disorders Photos


Title: Cherry Doubles (1)

Photo Credit: CDFA


Title: Cherry Doubles (2)

Photo Credit: CDFA


Title: Concentric Cracking

Photo Credit: CDFA


Title: Impact Bruising (1)

Photo Credit: Don Edwards, University of California, Davis


Title: Impact Bruising (2)

Photo Credit: Don Edwards, University of California, Davis


Title: Pitting Damage (1)

Photo Credit: Don Edwards, University of California, Davis

cherry_pitting _damage2_669x390

Title: Pitting Damage (2)

Photo Credit: Don Edwards, University of California, Davis


Title: Radial Cracking

Photo Credit: CDFA


Title: Shoulder Bruising

Photo Credit: Don Edwards, University of California, Davis


May 1996

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How to Cite

Author(s) names. Initial publication or update date (located at the top). Title. Link to the specific Produce Fact Sheet webpage (Accessed date)

Example: Cantwell, M. and T. Suslow. 2002. Lettuce, Crisphead: Recommendations for Maintaining Postharvest Quality. (Accessed January 18, 2014).


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