Knowledge of fruit physico–chemical properties and physiological responses is important for the design and development of appropriate postharvest handling and storage systems to reduce losses and maintain quality. The objective of this study was to investigate the changes in physico–chemical attributes and physiology of 'milk' banana cultivar at three ripening stages (unripe, fully ripe and overripe) under three storage conditions [refrigerated storage, 11°C–12°C and 95.5% RH; warm (room) storage, 20°C–22°C and 82%–85% RH; and 12–h cycle of 28°C/70% RH and 18°C/50% RH, simulating cyclic day/night conditions]. Fruit physico–chemical characteristics (weight loss, firmness, colour, pH, total soluble solids, titratable acidity, sugar:acid ratio and vitamin C) and physiological processes (C2H4 and CO2evolution) varied significantly among storage conditions for each of the three ripening stages tested. The least reduction in fruit weight, highest firmness and peel colour change were found using refrigerated storage compared to the other storage conditions. Refrigerated storage at 11°C–12°C and 95.5% RH offered significant benefits in postharvest handling of 'milk' banana by reducing fruit weight–loss, extending storage life by two weeks, and enhancing fruit vitamin C content during ripening.
Keywords: milk banana, postharvest handling, storage conditions, fruit ripening, fruit quality, respiration rate, ethylene, vitamin C, physico–chemical properties, physiological responses, postharvest handling, postharvest storage, fruit weight, firmness, peel colour