Postharvest handling of banana fruit

Banana is a famous and daily used fruit in our daily diet. Banana fruit is grown in tropical areas of Pakistan. The lower areas of Sindh are major growing areas for banana fruit. Banana tree lifespan is ranged from 9-12 months. From the stage of the harvest of banana fruit to the end of delivery to the consumer is called shelf life. The whole supply chain needs to be improved in Pakistan. Banana fruit is harvested before ripening. Banana fruit is harvested from the green maturity stage and transferred into the ripening process. In this article, I will discuss the postharvest handling from the stage of the harvest to the consumer end. The whole article will be discussed in the following outlines,

  • Harvesting of banana fruit
  • The ripening process of green banana fruit
  • Ripening of green bananas at home
  • From market to consumer end
  • Postharvest diseases of banana fruit
  • Conclusions

Harvesting of banana fruit

Harvesting of banana is done after 120-140 days of flowering. Botanically, the banana tree is a rhizome-like structure that proliferates the pseudostem with bigger and larger leaves and inflorescence just emerges out from the center of the stem of the banana tree. Before harvesting of banana fruit, there are the following things are should be taken under consideration,

  • When the banana bunch is ready with enough size that each finger has curvy sharp edges with mature green color.
  • When the heart appears and the remaining unnecessary portion bear with it.

The heart is a portion that has male flowers and another unfertile portion of the flower, which hangs like a pendulum. Before cutting the whole bunch, hands are covered with cushion type or soft material so that during carrying abrasions and damage may not happens to banana fruit. There is a big difference in harvesting banana fruit in Pakistan and other developed countries. In Pakistan, bunches are harvested and put-on bear land and they do not put any cushion type material between hands. During transportation, the banana is packed with its layers and there is no relaxation for the bottom bananas. While in other countries, where banana fruit is harvested at the green stage it is well-managed until the packaging.    

Note: you may be confusing with banana tree structure, like heart, inflorescence, hands, fingers, and bunch. As I have mentioned above that inflorescence appears from the center of the banana tree and hangs like a pendulum. From that inflorescence, its distal portion bears the actual banana fruit, all these fruits called a bunch. Bunch is divided into 3-4 hands which contain 12-15 fruits called fingers. The basal portion of the inflorescence is called the heart with pink color in the banana tree.  

Ripening of green banana fruit

When green banana fruit is brought up to the processing rooms or locally in Pakistan, banana fruit takes it upon trucks to the cold storage where the fruit is held in cooling room temperature with 58-degree Fahrenheit temperature and after that fruit bunches are shifted and exposed to the smoke-filled room. In cold storage, banana fruit takes 4-6 days to become a ripen banana. Then further ripe banana is passed out through retailers to the market where it finally comes to consumers as a ripe banana. This procedure is used by local cold storage in Pakistan for the ripening process whereas, in developed countries like a brand named Dole use the specific method, they use the perforated boxes and use ethylene ripener for the ripening process.

Ripening of green banana fruit at home

If someone has green banana fruit, want to make a green banana to yellow ripe banana. Then here this principal idea will lead to the ripening process of banana fruit. You can dig out the bare land and make a smoke creating source and place the green banana fruits inside and put the smoke creating the object and cover this hole. Wait for 3-4 days for complete ripening.

Commercially, a banana is ripened with a gas named ethylene. So, if we put something which produces the ethylene gas naturally then it will be good but for a smaller amount of banana fruits. Generally, in fruit stores in the market different fruits arranged side by side but one fruit is kept so lonely away from other fruits and vegetables that is apple. Apple is a natural ethylene producer and gets senescence (the process of aging in fruit) so quickly. If we keep two apples with green bananas in a zip bag and put it for few days then bananas will ripen but the ripening process will be so slow because ethylene produces is in less amount.  

Banana fruit from market to consumer

There is a question that arises that how many days a ripe banana fruit can survive? So, you may have noticed one thing in summer, fruit shelf life is lower and it gets deteriorate in 3-4 days whereas in winter fruits and vegetables survive more days than summer. Therefore, in summer refrigerator gives the more ideal and natural shelf life whereas a room temperature in winter gives the same result for shelf life.

So, the ripe banana will be surviving 3-4 days in summer at ambient temperature whereas in winter banana fruit can survive up to 10-12 days.

Postharvest diseases of banana fruit

When banana fruit is harvested from the producer end and then till the end until the ripening process, it may attack by different diseases. Fungal diseases are very common. Anthracnose of banana is very common in which banana fruit peel gets black and less attractive in appearance. Generally, banana fruit’ peel is susceptible, and the inside pulpy area remains safer but in case of severe attack inoculum can get inside and the pulpy area become blackish.

There are other fungal diseases like crown rot, cigar end rot, and black spot rot or finger rots that can make the banana fruit peel less attractive. There is another thing that can be seen in the ripe banana that sometimes banana fruit is so soft and watery from pulp and its peel is thin from specific areas and different abrasion patches create on fruit peel. This is happening during transportation when the vehicle is overloaded and those bananas from the bottom side damaged and get soft before ripening.

Conclusions

  • Postharvest handling of banana fruit is a very crucial step.
  • About 30-40% of the fruit is washed out due to poor postharvest handlings.
  • Harvesting of banana fruit is done after 3-3.5 months of flowering.
  • Taller species gets more time than dwarf varieties for harvesting the banana fruit.
  • You can also plan a simple setup for the ripening green bananas.
  • Ripening is generally done within a week after which a ripe banana is used to send to market.
  • Banana survives fewer days in summer than winter.
  • There are many fungal diseases that are very common in banana fruit.

I hope this article was very helpful for the postharvest handling of banana fruit. Keep commenting regarding the topic and stay tuned!

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