Vol 117 (2004): Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society
Handling & Processing

Postharvest peel pitting in citrus is induced by changes in relative humidity

Fernando Alferez
University of Florida
Published December 1, 2004
  • water relations,
  • grapefruit,
  • tangerine,
  • physiological disorder


Peel pitting at non-chilling temperatures remains an important problem during postharvest handling and storage of several citrus species, including Spanish 'Navelina' and 'Navelate' oranges and Florida 'Marsh' grapefruit and 'Fallglo' tangerines. The disorder is characterized by sunken areas on the flavedo and collapse of oil glands, followed by browning in advanced stages. Postharvest peel pitting results in decreased external quality and reduced value for fresh market fruit. Although the cause for this disorder is unknown, recent work demonstrated that altering peel water status through sudden changes in relative humidity during postharvest handling and storage can promote peel pitting. A period of low humidity followed by storage at high relative humidity triggered peel pitting. It was of interest to define threshold conditions necessary to promote peel pitting at harvest and during postharvest handling and storage. Studies were conducted to determine the effect of cumulative hours of dehydration before storage at high relative humidity on peel pitting, and to associate climatic conditions at the time of harvest with the incidence and severity of peel pitting. The results demonstrated that 3 hours of storage at low relative humidity induced peel pitting, and harvesting fruit when relative humidity was high greatly reduced the disorder.