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Reducing chilling injury and decay in stored sweet basil

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image of Israel Journal of Plant Sciences

Storage of greenhouse-grown sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) at temperatures below 12 �C results in chilling injury (CI), expressed as leaf browning, necrosis, and decay, followed by leaf abscission upon transfer to higher temperature. Storing basil at temperatures above 12 �C might result in soft rot caused by Botrytis cinerea and Erwinia carotovora, accompanied by increased leaf abscission. Ethylene is involved in the induction of leaf abscission. At a storage temperature of 12 �C, severe CI and decay may occur if the basil is harvested early in the morning, while these are markedly reduced if harvest is delayed to afternoon or evening. Postharvest hot-air treatment consisting of 38 �C for 8 h applied to afternoon- or evening-harvested basil markedly reduced its susceptibility to CI and decay, and enabled storage of some basil cultivars at 9 �C, a temperature which normally results in substantial injury. Harvesting of basil before noon should be delayed to at least 4 h after sunrise, and heat treatment (HT) at 38 �C should be performed for only 4 h since longer exposure may damage the leaves. Basil shoots from plants that had been harvested multiple times were more susceptible to CI injury and decay than those from first or second harvest. This susceptibility could be markedly reduced by applying HT to afternoon- or evening-harvested basil. HT applied to basil stem sections after their inoculation with B. cinerea conidia inhibited infection, whereas HT applied before the inoculation was ineffective, suggesting a direct inhibitory effect of HT on fungal development rather than increased host resistance.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Postharvest Science of Fresh Produce, Agricultural Research Organization, The Volcani Center ; 2: Department of Postharvest Science of Fresh Produce, Agricultural Research Organization ; 3: Department of Postharvest Science of Fresh Produce, Agricultural Research Organization, The Volcani Center, Bet Dagan 50250, Israel


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