Ethylene and Role of Ethylene in Fruit Ripening

Role of Ethylene


  • Ethylene is a gas released by some fruits and vegetables that causes produce to ripen faster. Some fruits and vegetables are more sensitive to ethylene than others
  • Ethylene is a natural plant hormone that the fruit itself emits as it ripens.
  • Ethrel or ethephon (2-chloroethane phosphonic acid).(Role of Ethylene)
  • Exposure of unripe fruit to a miniscule dose of ethylene is sufficient to stimulate the natural ripening process until the fruit itself starts producing ethylene in large quantities.
  • The use ethylene to promote ripening is permitted under.

Agri Exam Important 10000 Agriculture MCQ

The Role of Ethylene in Fruit Ripening

  • Most fruits produce a gaseous compound called ethylene that starts the ripening process.
  • Its level in under-ripe fruit is very low, but as fruit develop, they produce larger amounts that speed up the ripening process or the stage of ripening known as the ―climacteric.
  • The level of ethylene and rate of ripening is a variety-dependent process.
  • Some apple varieties such as McIntosh, produce prodigious amounts of ethylene and are difficult to store once this occurs.(Role of Ethylene)
  • When harvested after the rapid rise in ethylene, they quickly soften and senesce in storage. Other varieties have a slower rise in ethylene and slower ripening rate.
  • For apples that will be stored longer than two months, it is imperative to harvest them before the level of ethylene begins its rapid increase.
  • Plums and peaches are also sensitive to ethylene and will continue to ripen after harvest in response to this hormone.
  • Some varieties of plums, such as Shiro, ripen very slowly since ethylene production is suppressed.
  • With these suppressed-climacteric types, fruit may remain under-ripe if harvested too early. Other plum varieties such as Early Golden ripen very rapidly.
  • In this case, harvest should be timed more precisely so that fruit are not over-ripe when they reach the consumer.(Role of Ethylene)
  • To measure ethylene, expensive instruments are needed.
  • This is often done by specialized labs and sometimes by Cooperative Extension to determine if fruit in a general region are still at a stage where they can be stored long term.
  • Cheaper methods can be used to measure stage of ripeness, but are not as precise as measuring the level of ethylene in fruit.
  • Methods of controlling ethylene in fruit include preharvest application of amino vinylglycine (ReTain), postharvest application of 1-methylcyclopropene (SmartFresh), cold storage, controlled atmosphere storage, and ethylene scrubbing or removal.

Ethylene Sensitive:

Apples, Asparagus, Avocados, Bananas, Broccoli, Cantaloupe, Collard, Greens, Cucumber, Eggplant, Grapes, Honeydew, Kiwi, Lemons, Lettuce, Limes, Mangos, Onions, Peaches, Pears, Peppers, Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Watermelon.(Role of Ethylene)

Ethylene Producers:

Apples, Avocados, Bananas, Cantaloupe, Kiwi, Peaches, Pears, Peppers, Tomatoes.

Not Ethylene Sensitive:

Blueberries, Cherries, Beans, (Snap) Garlic, Grapefruit, Oranges, Pineapple, Potatoes, Raspberries, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Yucca.(Role of Ethylene)

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