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Introduction:

Pineapple (Ananas comosus) is one of the commercially important fruit crops of India. Total annual world production is estimated at 14.6 million tonnes of fruits. India is the fifth largest producer of pineapple with an annual output of about 1.2 million tonnes. Other leading producers are Thailand, Philippines, Brazil, China, Nigeria, Mexico, Indonesia, Colombia and USA.

Popular Varieties:

State

Varieties mostly grown

Assam & other N.E. states

Kew, Queen, Mauritius

Kerala

Mauritius, Kew, Queen

West Bengal

Giant Kew, Queen

Maturity Indices:

  • Change of shell color from green to yellow at the base of the fruit.
  • Pineapples are non-climacteric fruits and should be harvested when ready to eat.
  • A minimum soluble solids content of 12% and a maximum acidity of 1% will assure minimum flavor acceptability by most consumers

Harvesting Time:

Pineapple plants flower 12-15 months after planting and the fruits become ready 15-18 months after planting depending upon the variety, time of planting, type and size of plant material used and prevailing temperature during the fruit development. Under natural conditions, pineapple comes to harvest during May-August.  The fruit usually ripens about 5 months after flowering. Harvesting is done by manually, semi mechanical and fully mechanized. The harvest operation is done using special devices to draw the fruit from the field by breaking the fruit that shows proper maturity stage and placing them at the edge of the field where they are manually sorted by size. Pineapples are harvested by hand, with the pickers being instructed as to the stage of maturity required. The fruit should be broken off the stalk with a downward motion, or cut with a knife slightly below the base of the fruit. A large canvas picking sack which is strapped over the shoulders is commonly used as a harvest-aid in many parts of the world (Figure 4). Up to 6 fruits can be put in the sack, which is able to be opened from the bottom to allow the fruit to be transferred to a larger field container or padded wagon. The fruit may also be harvested in wooden or plastic field crates.

Packaging:

Proper ways of packaging a pineapple, whether for transport or display, is essential in showcasing an excellent quality product. Pineapples are packaged in corrugated board cartons, crates and fruit crates. Fruits are packed in baskets woven with bamboo strips lined with paddy straw to stand on their stumps and some methods are available.

Compartment Packaging:

The compartment packaging method was developed in South Africa and involves a carton subdivided into rectangular compartments. These compartments are sized according to the size of the type or variety of pineapple to be housed. The bottoms of these compartments are lined with about 10 cm of plastic as a cushion for the pineapples to prevent developing pressure sores. The compartment packaging method is useful for transporting pineapples to be showcased in expositions, as it keeps the integrity of the pineapple intact. However, poor ventilation using this method makes the pineapple more susceptible to mold.

Open Packaging Method:

The open packaging method is a simpler technique, as the pineapples are not separated by compartments. Instead of carton compartments, each fruit is separated using padded battens. Similar to the compartment packaging method, the bottom of the container is lined with plastic cushioning to prevent pressure sore formation. This method is a good alternative to the compartment packaging method, as it provides better ventilation which lessens the risk of developing and promoting mold growth.  Pineapples are packaged in corrugated board cartons, crates and fruit crates. Fruits are packed in baskets woven with bamboo strips. For local markets, the fruits are arranged in baskets (each weighing 20-25 kg.) lined with paddy straw to stand on their stumps.

Storage:

If storing at room temperature, use within two days. Storing at room temperature will increase the acidity level of the pineapple, but will not improve sweetness. To extend the lifespan to three to five days by refrigerating the whole pineapple is stored in a perforated plastic bag. Freshly-cut pineapple can be frozen in juice or syrup, but it will lose some flavor. Place in airtight plastic bags or covered containers with their natural juice and freeze up to 6 months. Canned pineapple can be stored up to one year on the shelf in a cool, dry cabinet.


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