Effect of postharvest biofumigation on fungal decay, sensory quality, and antioxidant levels of blueberry fruit


Postharvest decay, caused by various fungal pathogens, is an important concern in commercial blueberry production, but current options for managing postharvest diseases are limited for this crop. Four plant essential oils (cinnamon oil, linalool, p-cymene, and peppermint leaf oil) and the plant oil-derived biofungicides Sporan (rosemary and wintergreen oils) and Sporatec (rosemary, clove, and thyme oils) were evaluated as postharvest biofumigants to manage fungal decay under refrigerated holding conditions. Hand-harvested Tifblue rabbiteye blueberry fruit were inoculated at the stem end with conidial suspensions of Alternaria alternata, Botrytis cinerea, Colletotrichum acutatum, or sterile deionized water (check inoculation) and subjected to biofumigation treatments under refrigeration (7 °C) for 1 wk. Sporatec volatiles reduced disease incidence significantly (P < 0.05) in most cases, whereas other treatments had no consistent effect on postharvest decay. Sensory analysis of uninoculated, biofumigated berries was performed utilizing a trained sensory panel, and biofumigation was found to have significant negative impacts on several sensory attributes such as sourness, astringency, juiciness, bitterness, and blueberry-like flavor. Biofumigated fruit were also analyzed for antioxidant capacity and individual anthocyanins, and no consistent effects on these antioxidant-related variables were found in treated berries. Because of limited efficacy in reducing postharvest decay, negative impacts on sensory qualities, and failure to increase antioxidant levels, the potential for postharvest biofumigation of blueberries under refrigerated holding conditions appears limited.

Postharvest Biology and Technology, 85