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Recommendations for Maintaining Postharvest Quality


Adel A. Kader

Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis

Maturity & Quality
Maturity Indices
  • Change in fruit shape (fullness of the cheeks)
  • Change in skin color from dark-green to light-green to yellow (in some cultivars). Red color on the skin of some cultivars is not a dependable maturity index
  • Change in flesh color from greenish-yellow to yellow to orange
Quality Indices
  • Uniformity of shape and size; skin color (depending on cultivar); flesh firmness
  • Freedom from decay and defects, including sunburn, sapburn, skin abrasions, stem-end cavity, hot water scald, chilling injury, and insect damage
  • Changes associated with ripening include starch to sugar conversion (increased sweetness), decreased acidity and increased carotenoids and aroma volatiles
  • There are large differences in flavor quality (sweetness, sourness, aroma) and textural quality (fiber content) among cultivars

Maturity & Quality Photos

Title: Ataulfo Maturity & Ripeness

Photo Credit: Adel Kader, UC Davis

Title: Maturity

Photo Credits: Marita Cantwell and Adel Kader, UC Davis

Temperature & Controlled Atmosphere
Optimum Temperature

13°C (55°F) for mature-green mangoes

10°C (50°F) for partially-ripe and ripe mangoes

Optimum Relative Humidity


Rates of Respiration Production
Temperature 10°C (50°F) 13°C (55°F) 15°C (59°F) 20°C (68°F)
ml CO2/kg·hr 12-16 15-22 19-28 35-80

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 Production
Temperature 10°C (50°F) 13°C (55°F) 15°C (59°F) 20°C (68°F)
ul C2H4/kg·hr 0.1-0.5 0.2-1.0 0.3-4.0 0.5-8.0
Responses to Ethylene

Exposure to 100 ppm ethylene for 12 to 24 hours at 20 to 22°C (68 to 72°F) and 90-95% relative humidity results in accelerated and more uniform ripening of mangoes within 5-9 days, depending on cultivar and maturity stage. Carbon dioxide concentration should be kept below 1% in the ripening room.

Responses to Controlled Atmospheres (CA)
  • Optimum CA: 3-5% O2 and 5-8% CO2
  • CA delays ripening and reduces respiration and ethylene production rates
  • Postharvest life potential at 13°C (55°F): 2-4 weeks in air and 3-6 weeks in CA, depending on cultivar and maturity stage
  • Exposure to below 2% O2 and/or above 8% CO2 may induce skin discoloration, grayish flesh color, and off-flavor development
Physiological and Physical Disorders

Sapburn. Dark-brown to black discoloration of mango skin due to chemical & Physiological injury from exudate (sap) from cut stem.

Skin abrasions. Abrasions due to fruit rubbing against rough surfaces or each other result in skin discoloration and accelerated water loss.

Chilling injury. Symptoms include uneven ripening, poor color and flavor, surface pitting, grayish scald-like skin discoloration, increased susceptibility to decay, and, in severe cases, flesh browning. Chilling injury incidence and severity depend on cultivar, ripeness stage (riper mangoes are less susceptible) and temperature and duration of exposure.

Heat injury. Exposure to temperatures above 30°C (86°F) for longer than 10 days results in uneven ripening, mottled skin and strong flavor. Exceeding the time and/or temperature combinations recommended for decay and/or insect control, such as 46.4°C (115.5°F) water dip for 65-90 minutes (depending on fruit size) causes heat injury (skin scald, blotchy coloration, uneven ripening).

Internal flesh breakdown (stem-end cavity). Flesh breakdown and development of internal cavities between seed and peduncle. This disorder is more prevalent in tree-ripened mangoes.

Jelly-seed (premature ripening). Disintegration of flesh around seed into a jelly-like mass.

Soft-nose. Softening of tissue at apex. Flesh appears over-ripe and may discolor and become spongy. This disorder may be related to calcium deficiency.

Pathological Disorders

Anthracnose. Caused by Colletotrichum gloesporioides, begins as latent Disorders infections in unripe fruit and develops when the mangoes begin to ripen. Lesions may remain limited to the skin or may invade and darken the flesh.

Diplodia stem-end rot. Caused by Lasiodiplodia theobromae, affects mechanically-injured areas on the stem or skin. The fungus grows from the pedicel into a circular black lesion around the pedicel.

Control Strategies
  1. Careful handling to minimize mechanical injuries
  2. Hot water treatment: 5-10 minutes (depending on fruit size) dip in 50°C ± 2°C (122°F ± 4°F) water
  3. Postharvest fungicide (imazalil or thiabendazole) treatment alone or in combination with hot water treatment
  4. Maintaining optimum temperature and relative humidity during all handling steps

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

Disorders Photos

Title: Anthracnose (1)

Photo Credit: Don Edwards, UC Davis 

Title: Anthracnose (2)

Photo Credit: Don Edwards, UC Davis 

Title: Anthracnose Stem End Rot

Photo Credit: Don Edwards, UC Davis 

Title: Brushing Damage

Photo Credit: Queensland DPI 

Title: Chilling Injury (1)

Photo Credit: Don Edwards, UC Davis 

Title: Chilling Injury (2)

Photo Credit: Queensland DPI

Title: Compression Damage

Photo Credit: Queensland DPI

Title: Heat Damage (1)

Photo Credit: Beth Mitcham, UC Davis 

Title: Heat Damage (2)

Photo Credit: Beth Mitcham, UC Davis 

Title: Hot Water Scald

Photo Credit: Queensland DPI

Title: Jelly Seed

Photo Credit: Queensland DPI

Title: Lasiodiplodia Rot

Photo Credit: Don Edwards, UC Davis 

Title: Lenticel Spotting

Photo Credit:

Title: Sapburn Injury

Photo Credit: Queensland DPI 

Title: Stem End Cavity

Photo Credit: Queensland DPI

Title: Stem End Rot

Photo Credit: Don Edwards, UC Davis 


February 1997

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The information in this fact sheet represents our best understanding of the current state of knowledge at the time of the latest update, and does not represent an exhaustive review of all research results. Links to any of these UC Postharvest Technology Center pages are permitted, but no endorsement of the linking site or products mentioned in the linking page is intended or implied by such a link.

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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