Why do they harvest mangoes before the fully mature-green stage?


We are a marketing company specializing in the marketing of tropical and subtropical fruit. A question we have been faced with during the past few seasons is the following: Mango producers are picking "immature" fruit and "color" it in ethylene rooms. The reason for this is to "catch" the new season market early and thereby getting very good prices! However, the perception amongst certain mango producers is that this fruit, which is artificially colored, causes the consumers to become "mango averse" later in the season: this they base on the "fact" that these immature fruit, whilst good color, never ripens properly! Your input will be much appreciated! (S.H.)


It is true that harvesting mangoes before the fully mature-green stage (based on fullness of the cheeks and skin color changes from dark-green to light-green or yellowish-green), then ripening them with ethylene treatment will result in inferior flavor quality (based on sweetness of taste and aroma development). If consumers buy such mangoes once, they are not likely to buy mangoes again for a while. Thus, mangoes should be harvested at the mature-green or breaker stage (yellowish-green ground color) to ensure good flavor when ripened. Exposure to 100ppm ethylene for 24 to 48 hours at 20C and 90-95% relative humidity induces faster and more uniform ripening of these mangoes to good flavor quality. During ripening flesh color becomes darker yellow to orange and softens, starch is converted to sugars and acidity declines (decreased sourness and increased sweetness), and odor-active volatiles are increased resulting in good aroma. For more information on postharvest handling of mangoes, go to our website and look under the Produce Facts Section.

-Adel Kader