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Recommendations for Maintaining Postharvest Quality


Adel A. Kader
Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis

Maturity & Quality

Maturity Indices

Tamarillos reach horticultural (commercial) maturity at 21-24 weeks after anthesis, depending on cultivar and production area. Attainment of full red or yellow color (that is characteristic of the cultivar) is the primary maturity index. A minimum soluble solids content of 10% may also be used.

Quality Indices

  • Tamarillos must be harvested as close to full-ripeness as possible to assure good flavor for the consumer
  • The average content of total sugars (sucrose + glucose + fructose) is 6% and of total acids (mainly citric acid) is 1.8% (fresh weight) in a ripe tamarillo fruit, which explains its acidic (sour) taste
  • Size, shape and color uniformity, freedom from defects and decay

Maturity & Quality Photos

Title: Quality (1)

Photo Credit: Adel Kader, UC Davis 

Title: Quality (2)

Photo Credit: Adel Kader, UC Davis

Temperature & Controlled Atmosphere

Optimum Temperature

3-4°C (37-39°F)
Storage potential = 6-10 weeks.

Optimum Relative Humidity


Rates of Respiration

10-12ml CO2/kg·hr at 20°C (68°F); non-climacteric respiratory pattern.
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

Less than 0.1 µl/kg·hr at 20°C (68°F).

Responses to Ethylene

Ethylene treatment hastens senescence and stimulates respiration rate but does not improve eating quality of tamarillo fruits.

Responses to Controlled Atmospheres (CA)

No published information.


Physiological and Physical Disorders

Chilling Injury. Symptoms include brown discoloration, surface pitting, and increased susceptibility to decay. The minimum safe temperature is 3-4°C (37-39°F), depending on cultivar and storage duration.

Pathological Disorders

  • Bitter rot, caused by Glomerella cingulata (Stonem.), is the main postharvest disease of tamarillos
  • An effective preharvest integrated pest management program greatly reduces postharvest decay problems
  • A hot water dip at 50ºC (122ºF) for 8 minutes effectively controls quiescent infections by Colletotrichum spp

November 2000

Use of Materials

The UC Postharvest Technology Center grants users permission to download textual pages (including PDF files) from this World Wide Web site for personal use or to reproduce them for educational purposes, but credit lines and copyright notices within the pages must not be removed or modified.

Except for these specified uses, no part of the textual materials available on the UC Postharvest Technology Center Web site may be copied, downloaded, stored in a retrieval system, further transmitted or otherwise reproduced, stored, disseminated, transferred or used, in any form or by any means, except as permitted herein or with the University of California's prior written agreement. Request permission from UC Postharvest Technology Center. Distribution for commercial purposes is prohibited.

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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