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Vegetable Production - Postharvest Handling


Tomatoes and other vegetables
Tomatoes and other vegetables have specific criteria for optimal longevity for post-harvest storage.

How you harvest and handle your produce directly affects freshness and flavor. For most vegetables, rapid cooling after harvest slows deterioration, and high humidity prevents moisture loss. Different vegetables respond differently to the cooling method used, storage conditions required, and the temperatures where injury may occur. There are several ways to assure that the vegetables grown will maintain their freshness and quality, including cooling, harvesting and handling, washing, and storage conditions.







Cooling method and handling factors recommended to maintain quality and shelf life

Crop Recommend Cooling Methods Crop Handling-Storage Factors
Air Water Water Vacuum Temp. (F) Relative Humidity (%) Storage Life* Chilling Injury**
Asparagus   +   + 32-36 95 1-2 w L
Beans + +     40-45 90-95 7-10 d M
Broccoli     +   32 90-95 1-2 w I
Cabbage +       32 90-95 1-3 m I
Other Brassicas + + + + 32 90-95 2-5 w I
Cantaloupe +   +   36-40 85-90 4-14 d M
Cucumber + +     50 90-95 1-2 w H
Eggplant +       50 90-95 1 w H
Endive       + 32 90-95 2-3 w I
Lettuce     + + 32-36 95 1-2 w I
Onions +       32 65-70 1-6 m I
Other Leafy Greens   + + + 32-36 95 1-2 w I
Peppers +     + 45-50 90-95 2-3 w M
Potatoes +       40-45 90 4-8 m L
Root Crops +       32-36 90-95 2-6 m I
Summer Squash + +     50 90-95 4-7 d H
Sweet Corn + + +   32 90-95 5-7 d I
Sweet Potato +       55-60 85-90 3-5 m VH
Tomato +       55-65 85-90 4-14 d M-H
Watermelon   +     45-50 95-90 3-4 w M
Winter Squash +       50-55 50-70 2-6 m M

*Storage life are days (d), weeks (w), or months (m) under the best conditions.

**Chilling injury sensitivity: I-insensitive; L-low; M-moderate; H-high; VH-very high. Sensitivity varies with stage of maturity for some vegetables.

Information from USDA Handbook 66 (www.ba.ars.usda.gov/hb66/contents.html).