Maturity at harvest is the most critical factor influencing post-harvest life, especially for fruit like apples and pears, that are sensitive to a vegetal hormone called ethylene, which accelerates their ripening process. Preventing the negative effect of ethylene in the orchard is key to harvesting the best quality fruit and minimizing post-harvest waste.

Delaying harvest is a normal practice used by growers to gain cover color and larger size. Gaining control over how and when fruit ripens, and expanding the harvest window for optimal color, size and firmness without the worry of over maturity can be achieved with the pre-harvest application of Harvista, an AgroFresh solution.

Many products emit ethylene, a natural plant hormone, as they start to ripen, which signals the surrounding fruit to ripen until decay. Harvista provides a powerful solution for growers to control ethylene sensitivity and regulate pre-harvest ripening. The active ingredient in Harvista, 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP), is similar to ethylene structure and prevents ethylene binding to receptor sites. Protected against both internal and external sources of ethylene, fruit matures more slowly.

When applied seven to ten days, or even just a few days, before harvest, it allows growers to gain an extended harvest window with excellent protection against ethylene effects. Additionally, Harvista has a favorable environmental profile and leaves no residue of 1-MCP on fruit. It acts at very low use rates thanks to its specific mode of action.

One of the first physiological responses to the ethylene perception inhibition by Harvista is a reduction in ethylene biosynthesis (Figure 1). As a result, the ripening processes regulated by ethylene will be slowed down, including fruit softening and starch degradation, among others. Fruit treated with Harvista will have more time to be harvested at the best maturity for optimal post-harvest life.

Growers in the in USA, Israel, Turkey, South Africa, Chile, Argentina and Australia are benefitting from the proven effects of Harvista technology. Harvista is currently under registration in Europe, Brazil, and New Zealand. Use is growing every year on key varieties such as Gala, Reds, Golden, Fuji, Honeycrisp apples and Williams, Abate and Coscia pears among others.

An innovative application system
Various application methods for Harvista allow for very low doses of 1-MCP to reach the fruit, as well as provide easy, efficient and environmentally-friendly options for growers. The spraying method optimizes the use of water and active ingredient, and limits drift, allowing the best coverage of the canopy. Self-application kits are available for use with existing equipment, so growers can time application based on the needs of their operations, helping them control fruit quality and labor management. Technical support by AgroFresh is always available to growers seeking help with application, best practices or customized recommendations.

Proven results in the Southern Hemisphere
Argentinean growers have integrated Harvista as a critical tool in their pre-harvest quality management for apple and pear varieties growing in warm regions and suffering from fast ripening. For key apple varieties such as Galas and Red Delicious, Harvista allows firmness retention, slower starch degradation, fruits drop reduction, maintenance of the right background color, less stem cracking in Gala and less water core development in Red Delicious. Furthermore, because of the slow ripening pattern controlled by Harvista, harvest can be delayed, providing extra days to increase size and develop color when weather conditions are not ideal.

In the case of pears, Williams is the most important variety for the Argentinian industry. Being a summer variety, its ripening is highly regulated by ethylene at harvest. Harvista applied near harvest has been proven to slow down the ripening process. A harvest delay also provides significant fruit size increase.

Positive economic impact for fruit growers and packers
Since its inception, AgroFresh has cultivated a deep understanding of pre-harvest factors, ripening patterns, the role of ethylene and crop needs that drive innovation and support growers’ returns on investment. Growers can maximize their yield of premium quality fruit at optimum size and color. They can also organize the harvest according to manpower constraints and weather conditions, especially during hot summers.

Storage facilities can also benefit from Harvista. They can better plan the room filling and receive fruit of homogenous best quality with the greatest storage potential. Combined with SmartFresh technology, this can contribute to maximize packout and reduced waste.

AgroFresh continues to pioneer new uses for Harvista, such as applications on blueberries prior to harvest and on cherries during blossom to increase fruit set.