Pitaya (Pitahaya, Dragon Fruit)
Recommendations for Maintaining Postharvest Quality
Sergio Tonetto de Freitas, Ngoc T. Nham and Elizabeth J. Mitcham
Maturity & Quality
Maturity & Quality Photos
Temperature & Controlled Atmosphere
Red pitaya (Hylocereus undatus and H. polyrhizus) and yellow clones of H. undatus: 10ºC (50ºF)
Yellow pitaya (Selenicereus megalanthus): 6ºC (43ºF)
4 weeks, depending on growing location and maturity
41-79 ml CO2/kg.h at 20-23ºC (68-73ºF)
To calculate heat production, multiply ml CO2/kg•h by 440 to get Btu/ton/day or by 122 to get kcal/metric ton/day.
0.01-0.09 µl C2H4/kg•h during fruit growth and development. Ethylene production does not increase during fruit ripening. Based on the pattern of CO2 and C2H4 production, pitaya is a non-climacteric fruit.
Ripening changes in the fruit are independent of ethylene. Ethylene treatment has no effect on the initiation of fruit color development.
Modified atmosphere studies show that fruit harvested 30 days after flowering and stored in modified atmosphere bags with oxygen, transmission rate of 4 L m-2 day-1 for ~5 weeks at 10ºC (50ºF) had less dehydration and scale wilting, and better maintenance of fruit color with greener scales compared to fruit stored without bags at the same temperature. It is unknown how much benefit is due to a modified atmosphere as compared to the higher relative humidity within the bags. More mature fruit and storage at higher temperatures reduces the beneficial effects of modified atmospheres.
Temperature & Controlled Atmosphere Photos
DisordersPhysiological and Physical Disorders
Chilling injury. Chilling injury can develop at 5 or 6°C (41 or 43ºF), depending on the genus, harvest maturity and growing location. Early harvest increases fruit sensitivity to chilling injury. Chilling injury is characterized by flesh translucency, softening, wilting, darkening of scales, browning of the outer flesh and poor flavor.
Mechanical injury. Injury due to abrasion of the skin makes the fruit unsightly and increases the rate of water loss resulting in shriveling. Fruit should be handled carefully and packaged in protective containers to reduce abrasion and compression injury.
Water loss. Pitaya fruit are very susceptible to water loss. The rate of fruit weight loss per day is about 0.1% at 5ºC (41ºF), 0.3% at 10ºC (50ºF), and 2.6% at 20ºC (68ºF) for H. undatus. However, holding fruit inside perforated plastic bags to maintain higher RH around the fruit can reduce fruit weight loss per day to as low as 0.05% at 5 and 10ºC (41 and 50ºF). Water loss results in loss of saleable weight and unsightly shriveling.
Anthracnose. Caused by Colletotrichum gloeosporioides and appears as reddish-brown lesions on fruit which develop from chlorotic halos.
Control strategies include minimizing physical injuries during harvest and handling, and using good sanitation practices and good temperature management. As of 2011, no postharvest fungicides are approved by EU or US authorities for use on dragon fruit.
Quarantine Treatment. Hot air treatment to a core temperature of 46.5 ºC (116ºF) and holding for 20 minutes can be used for fruit fly disinfestations caused by Bactrocera spp.
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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.