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Historical document

Avocado maturity: a review of harvest indices and how they relate to postharvest quality (AV06014)

Key research provider: HortResearch Ltd
Publication date: October, 2006

This is a final research report from Hort Innovation’s historical archives. Please note that as these reports may date back as far as the 1990s, the content and recommendations within them may be superseded by more recent research.

What was it all about?

The Australian avocado industry, at the time, was aiming to improve fruit quality so that 90 per cent of fruit met or exceeded consumer expectations by 2010. Maturity was one factor that could influence the ability to meet this target. This report reviewed the physiological changes in the fruit during maturation, the influence of maturity on fruit quality, maturity standards in the main avocado producing countries, and technologies for assessing maturity. This information could then be used by key industry groups to develop maturity-based strategies for improving fruit quality.

Key recommendations:

  • Determine the main causes of poor quality in the marketplace. If these problems are related to maturity, then it needs to be established if this is because of non-compliance of current maturity standards or because the current standards are inadequate
  • Determine the components of quality that are important to consumers and influence purchasing behaviour
  • Review the minimum maturity standard (21% per cent) in the light of the significantly higher standards in other countries, and in particular the suggested move in California from 20.8 to 23 per cent
  • In the medium term, develop new harvest indices that determine immaturity and overmaturity more accurately and reliably, so that growers and marketers can more confidently supply acceptable quality fruit to early and late season markets.

This report demonstrated that maturity affects the postharvest quality of avocados. However, it remained to be established if maturity was a key cause of poor quality in Australian markets, or if it was caused by other pre- and postharvest factors. This report also highlighted that the current minimum dry matter standard has a number of limitations, especially in prediction of the sensory quality of avocados. Despite these limitations, the dry matter standard was better than no standard, and its utilisation within industry was urged to be continually refined and evaluated until new maturity standards were developed.

Related levy funds

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Funding statement:
This project was funded by Hort Innovation (then Horticulture Australia Limited) with the voluntary financial support of the avocado industry.

Copyright © Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited 2007. The Final Research Report (in part or as whole) cannot be reproduced, published, communicated or adapted without the prior written consent of Hort Innovation (except as may be permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)).