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February / March 2023

Avocados travel better with ice

SA Fruit Journal: February / March 2023

A series of studies into controlled and balanced atmosphere technologies and procedures has highlighted dry ice as an excellent travel companion for avocados. By Dr Frans Kruger

During storage, the respiration rate of avocado fruit is influenced by a range of factors such as pre-harvest quality, maturity, storage temperature, storage atmosphere and the application of ethylene inhibitors. To ensure the optimal storage atmosphere, controlled atmosphere (CA) methodology was developed in the early 1990s, and South African avocados were first exported under CA conditions in 1995. Since then, it has become an established industry practice.

Generally, CA conditions entail a ratio of 6% CO2 and 4% O2. However, maintaining this balance is a specialised and costly exercise. In the 2018 season certain service providers in search of alternatives, started using balanced atmosphere (BA), where the CO2 is allowed to passively build up to 8%. This level is maintained for the duration of the containerised portion of the export journey. The O2 is not regulated but settles at approximately 13% when CO2 is set at 8%.

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