Recommendations for Maintaining Postharvest Quality
Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis
Maturity & QualityMaturity Indices
Jicama (Pachyrhizus erosus) is a warm season legume root crop. It is also called Yam Bean and is a brown skinned turnip-shaped root eaten raw or cooked. Jicama roots can be harvested at various stages of development. Young tender roots (100-150 g) harvested from green plants are found in specialty markets. Fully mature roots, however, weigh from 250-1500 g. Mature roots are characterized by their size and well-developed periderm as well as their starchy-sweet flavor. To favor hardening of the periderm, plant tops are removed mechanically or irrigation is stopped.
Good quality jicama roots should be smooth and firm, with uniform shape and size, be free from mechanical damage to the skin, and have a crisp, succulent, white sweet-starchy flesh. There are no U.S. Grades for jicama. In Hawaii, however, two grades are recognized based on size and freedom from defects (dirt, discoloration, growth cracks, roughness, insect damage, mechanical injury).
Temperature & Controlled AtmosphereOptimum Temperature
The recommended conditions for commercial storage of jicama are to keep roots cool and dry. Jicama roots are very chilling sensitive and roots should be stored at 12.5°C to 15°C (55°F to 59°F) with moderate relative humidity (70-80%). A storage life of 2-4 months can be expected under these conditions, although stem sprouts will develop after about 2 months. Sprout development results in weight loss and especially a loss of juiciness of the pulp. Minimizing mechanical damage to the periderm during harvest will reduce decay incidence during storage.
At 5°C and 10°C (41°F and 50°F) respiration rates increase during storage; rates decrease during storage at temperatures >10°C (50°F). Less mature roots have higher respiration rates.
Jicama produces only very low amounts of ethylene (
Responses to Ethylene
Jicama is not sensitive to ethylene exposure.
No information is available on the potential benefits of controlled atmosphere storage of intact jicama roots. Based on work with other root crops it would not be expected to provide a benefit. On fresh-cut jicama pieces, however, modified atmospheres with 5-10% CO2 reduced decay development and discoloration at 5°C (41°F).
Physiological and Physical Disorders
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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.