Post Harvest Management: Papaya

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Exports of Papaya to Canada, USA, and Europe have increased tremendously. However, to remain in the market, we must maintain the high quality of the produce.

There are two (2) varieties of Papaya grown in Jamaica:

The West Indian or Puerto Rican Red/Yellow variety ranging in size from 7.5 to 50 cm and weighing as much as 4.5 kg.

The solo sunrise variety, an improved high quality type, ranging in size from 12 to 15 cm, and weighting 250-500 grams.

The solo sunrise variety is preferred for the fresh fruit trade as they are perfectly sized for individual servings or small households. In addition, the fruit has a reddish-orange flesh which is firm, sweet, and very flavourful. It is attractively smooth and Pear-shaped

The following practices must be carried out in order to maintain the quality of the fruit for the export market:

Harvest the fruits at the right stage, depending on the market destination. For the overseas market, harvest when it is 10-15% yellow, or when a yellow colouration begins to develop in the fungible (base) of the fruits.

The fruits should be hand-picked with the pickers wearing gloves in order to prevent bruising by the fingers.

The fruit can be twisted and levered upwards in order to break it from the main stem or a short knife should be used to cut the fruit stem. Do not break off the stem too close to the fruit as this will damage the tissue at the stem -end of the fruit, and lead to spoilage.

The fruit should never be allowed to drop to the ground during picking, as cuts and bruises result in rapid development of decay and ripening.

The paw-paw is highly perishable and should be handled carefully. Rough handling results in bruising and sometimes internal damage which lowers the market value.

Throwing of paw-paws should never be practiced. This results in bruising and sometimes internal damage when the fruit is accidentally dropped.

The fruit must be carefully placed in field crates or boxes.

The sides and bottoms of containers used to transport the fruit from the field to the pack houses, or to the fresh market, should be lined with banana leaves, shredded paper, or tissue-like paper. This is for protection from the normal hazards of transportation.

When packing the fruits for the market, they should be placed in a single layer on their bases with the tip or apex pointing upwards. Remember these fruits should be packed with soft paper material to keep the level of bruising to a minimum, and so prolonging the storage/shelf life of the fruits

If you are packing for export, only pack eight (8) to sixteen (16) per one piece of ventilated fiberboard carton of 4.5 kg net, depending on the size of the fruit.

If Temporary storage is necessary, the packaged fruits should be stored in a cool well-ventilated environment. If longer storage is needed, then store at 10-13ºC and 85-90% RH which will extend the life of the fruit from ten (10) days to a maximum of three (3) weeks.

If stored at room temperature (25ºC) fruits will ripen within 7-10 days.

Remember that only good quality produce should be placed on the export market in order to compete with other countries, and obtain a good price for our efforts