CherryTech: Can We Improve Postharvest Management to Prevent Fruit Deterioration?

CherryTech: Can We Improve Postharvest Management to Prevent Fruit Deterioration?

Which practices in the orchard are crucial for a good postharvest? Are we doing things right, or can we improve in the packing process? What aspects should we pay attention to during postharvest? These and many other questions will be analyzed, debated, and answered in the forum titled "Postharvest: Key Points and Management Experiences to Prevent Fruit Deterioration" at CherryTech.

The event will take place on June 29 at the Sun Monticello Conference Center, 60km from Santiago, Chile, where renowned specialists will offer three master classes and later, they will moderate three forums that will address topics about nutrition, new varieties, and postharvest. The postharvest forum will be led by Jordi Casas, Advisor and Consultant in deciduous fruit trees, Founder and Technical Director of Caducos Spa.

“In the case of exporter countries, like Chile, postharvest is crucial for any fruit that is sent overseas. It’s not just about production and on-field aspects; postharvest is vital because the majority of our markets are distant, with travel times of over 20-30 days. Therefore, it’s important that our fruit meets the basic quality standards, which are higher than those required by markets closer to the source or with production closer to their markets, such as Europe or North America. Given Chile’s distance from its markets, it needs to have high-quality fruit and optimal postharvest management, including good cold chains, well-evaluated and directed modified atmospheres, as well as appropriate maturity timing. Postharvest is a key topic, and I believe the panelists fully meet the expectations. The discussion will be very interesting,” explained Jordi Casas.

Regarding cherry-specific postharvest practices, the specialist referred to the advancements that have been made to extend the fruit’s ideal conditions for reaching its destination: “Cherries have a very short postharvest life compared to other exported fruits. In fact, only a few years ago, they managed to overcome the reliance on air transport through modified atmospheres, extending the shelf life of cherries from one week to 30 days or more in some varieties. Cherries have a high respiration rate, making postharvest work even more challenging.”

The postharvest panel will also include three renowned experts in the field: Jéssica Rodríguez, Postharvest Advisor at Trío Kimün; Héctor García, Co-founder and General Manager of Laboratorios Diagnofruit; Sebastián Johnson, Manager of industrial projects at Johnson; Juan Puntí, Production and Postharvest Manager at export company Prize.

Postharvest forum panelists

“When it comes to the forum and the participants, I believe there is a good combination. On one hand, we have Jessica, who is very practical and focused on postharvest associated with plants and has a good understanding of orchards. Sebastián covers everything from orchard postharvest to the beginning of processing, including the entire dehydration chain. Héctor García contributes, without a doubt, in the phytopathological aspects. And I complement all these areas with my commercial perspective,” noted Juan Puntí.

But why is it relevant to analyze postharvest in cherry production? Panelist Héctor García explains it simply and clearly: “There are fruit species that require simpler postharvest processes, while others are more complex. I believe cherries fall into the complex category. Specialized lines, the use of fungicides, sanitization, and other aspects make postharvest a key part of the export process. However, aligning postharvest with preharvest is a challenge that I think has not been fully consolidated across the industry. Addressing it today is simply indispensable for obtaining a high-quality product.”

Without the described processes, Garcia explains, it would not be possible for cherries shipped to China, the main export destination and one of the farthest, to withstand the long travel times without losing their quality. If the industry is considering entering markets like India, where maritime transport from Chile can take a week longer than to China, it becomes necessary to further refine postharvest techniques and handling of the fruit.

“In fruit production, no area is more important than the other; they are all part of a chain of events. In our marketing system, postharvest has a longer duration to reach the consumer with cherries. Therefore, optimal procedures and management are crucial to maintain the quality that undoubtedly starts in the orchard. It will be very interesting to contribute to the forum’s discussion at CherryTech with a group of professionals who have technical and practical experience, analyzing procedures and practices to maintain cherry quality until it reaches the final consumer,” stated Jessica Rodríguez.

Finally, Sebastián Johnson, takes a critical look at the industry and emphasizes the need for a quantitative analysis rather than a qualitative one for this important cherry production process.

“Do we perform postharvest perfectly? Do we do the things that depend on us perfectly, or do we sometimes hire people and train them just before the harvest starts? Do we have a number of tractors in the field that may not always be the ones cherries need, but rather the ones we have or decide based on the cheapest truck instead of the one cherries require? There is still a long way to go when it comes to postharvest. Our number one enemy is time, more than metabolism, more than dehydration. The moment you pick cherries from the tree, they begin to die. In Chile, we often evaluate and measure postharvest using words, adjectives, and if we consider that time is our main enemy, the first thing we should do in postharvest is to replace words with numbers, just like they do in the agricultural field, where they talk about the quantity of branches, units, everything is numbers,” warned Johnson.

With different perspectives and expertise on postharvest, the CherryTech forum will undoubtedly be a must-attend event featuring the most important specialists in the field. For all the details and ticket sales for the cherry technical event, please visit www.cherrytechconvention.com.

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