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Postharvest Care


Post-harvest handling is as important as the growing of the crop. A high quality, mature, fresh pepper is firm, bright, and has a fresh, green calyx. Fruit should be cooled quickly after harvest. The best time to harvest is in the early morning when temperatures are cool and plants are well hydrated.

Store sweet peppers between 45 to 55°F, and 90 to 95% humidity. Peppers are sensitive to chilling injury and disease development below 45°F. Temperatures above 55°F encourage ripening and spread of bacterial soft rot. Pre-packaging peppers in plastic films helps retain moisture and can prolong the storage life up to a week longer than non-packaged peppers.


Store eggplant between 45 to 55°F, and 90 to 95% humidity. Eggplants are sensitive to chilling injury below 50°F; however, sensitivity varies with variety, maturity, and size of fruit. Eggplant quality degrades quickly after 7 to 10 days of storage.


Store mature green tomatoes at 55 to 60°F, and ripe fruit at 45 to 50°F. Firm ripe fruit can be stored 3 to 5 days. Relative humidity should be kept at 90 to 95% to maintain quality and limit water loss. Tomatoes are sensitive to chilling injury below 50°F if held longer than two weeks, and below 41°F if held longer than 6 to 8 days. Chilling injury may result in failure to ripen evenly and cause premature softening and decay. For even ripening, keep temperatures at 65 to 70°F with 90 to 95% relative humidity. For slower ripening (in transit) keep temperatures at 57 to 61°F.

For further detail on proper storage, handling and ripening techniques, refer to the publication recommendations for Maintaining Postharvest Quality, available through the UC Davis California (see links below).