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Irrigation Agency


Ripening of Fruit

Expert Talk

There is a rumor on the Internet that “Eating bananas with a green head and tail can cause cancer” and “Bananas with a green head and tail, yellow in the middle with no spots, are ripened by drugs and may cause cancer.”

This is false, because the harvesting and storage conditions of fruit are determined by their differing characteristics. For transportation and storage, some fruit must be harvested immaturely and then be subject to accelerated ripening, while others must be harvested after they are ripe and do not need to be ripened; whether ripening is necessary depends on whether the fruit is a non-climacteric fruit or a climacteric fruit.

Non-climacteric fruit

This refers to a process of immature fruit ripening when there is no obvious change in respiration rate. It includes grapes, cherries, grapefruit, oranges and strawberries. The ripening of this kind of fruit is not accelerated, it matures slowly and so it is usually harvested after maturing.

Climacteric fruit

This refers to a process of immature fruit ripening when the color, aroma and texture change significantly, and the respiration rate also increases. Common fruits include bananas, mangoes, papayas and sago. They vary significantly in terms of storage time and are best eaten around peak respiration rate.

As such, bananas are a post-ripening climacteric fruit. Although they can mature naturally on the tree or after harvesting, it takes a long time and maturity is inconsistent. Moreover, mature bananas are not easy to transport and store as the peel cracks easily, so they are generally harvested when not ripe and then artificially ripened. Artificial ripening uses ethylene gas to precipitate banana after-ripening and ethylene is a plant hormone and a natural product of fruit, which naturally volatilizes and dissipates. It does not exist in bananas and does not cause cancer.

Reference: Farmer’s Friend Monthly, Volume 68, Issue 10
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