Claudia Moggia Lucchini "It is necessary to agree on an objective measure of firmness, at the field and industry level"

The award-winning researcher, professor, and head of the Postharvest Unit of the Center for Plant Genetic Improvement and Phytomedics of the University of Talca, Claudia Moggia, has a long experience in studies and research aimed at the behavior of fruit, mainly in its qualities of firmness and postharvest life.

Much of his scientific work has been devoted to research on the post-harvest physiology of the fruit, observing and measuring the physiological, morphological and biochemical factors that condition softening and dehydration in blueberries during refrigerated storage.

Claudia Moggia will participate in the round table: "Firmness of the fruit, economic importance, factors and management", that will be developed in the X International Seminar of Blueberries the 19 of April in Monticello, together with the researchers and experts, Bruno Defilippi, of the Institute of Agricultural Research INIA; Reinaldo Campos, from Universidad Andrés Bello UNAB; and Pablo A. Kiger, of Driscoll's.

The 95% of fresh shipments from Chile are made by sea, so the fruit can take between 20 and 50 days to reach the final consumer. This reality, together with its high perishability, makes arrival quality one of the most relevant characteristics to ensure the economic returns of the industry. In the process, the fruits can suffer decay, physiological disorders, dehydration, softening and weight loss, among other alterations, being especially susceptible to mechanical damage (or impact), due to blows or poor handling. This damage, which is also known as internal browning or grinding, is not immediately visible and becomes an excessive softening of the fruit, reducing its quality and post-harvest life, and therefore, its final value.

The professor of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences of the University of Talca, has developed investigative works in the use of diverse packaging for the fruit, in modified atmosphere or without it; in measurements of the most suitable harvest times and times; in the level of impact of the different surfaces or materials on the fruit, at the time of packaging; and in the multiple edges that affect the qualities of firmness that are required in the destination markets. His studies have covered organic and conventional crops of different varieties of blueberries and produced in different climatic regions.

It is very important to deepen the knowledge regarding this topic and to know about the studies of the researchers, or to know about the experts, since the blueberries mature sequentially inside the plant, so it is very likely that the soft fruits, and therefore more susceptible to damage, have a physiological age greater than firm fruits. This, together with the fact that the harvest index is based only on the blue color, can result in commercial collections that mix visually similar but physiologically different fruit, increasing the variability in postharvest.

In her published articles, Claudia Moggia argues that "At the moment, there is no methodology that allows the firmness of blue fruit to be differentiated in the field and at the production level. If it is achieved, it would improve the homogeneity of the fruit in the export units, decreasing the instances of rejection".

In addition, the academic states that "within the fresh blueberry industry, there is a need to reach an objective measure of firmness, at the field and industry level, which allows us to define the limits between a soft, medium or firm fruit, achieving a common language with the recipients of our fruit abroad".

Claudia Moggia Lucchini is an agronomist and holds a degree in agronomy from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso; with studies in Horticulture and Poscosecha in the Oregon State University of the USA; and Food Science and Technology at the University of Lleida, Spain.

Source: Martín Carrillo O. - Blueberries Consulting

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