Ship ripening is a recurrent problem for plantain exported to England, from Dominica. In this study, bunches were harvested at different ages, ranging from 6/2 to 13 Vi weeks after shooting. The maturity grade of each hand was scored visually (from thin to % full). The caliper grade of the central finger in each hand was also recorded. Fruit were stored at 10°C, for 10 days, followed by storage at 21°C. All fruit were inspected every other day, for signs of ripening. Hands that were proximal on the bunch (first hand to set) demonstrated a significantly shorter shelf life than hands from the middle or distal end of the bunch. There was an increase in shelf life for a decrease in the age at which bunches were harvested (P < 0.001). This relationship was also found to be linear (P < 0.001). Shelf life decreased linearly, as caliper grade and maturity score increased (P <0.001). The r values were highest for the bunch age/shelf life relationship (0.8311 for bunch age, compared to 0.64944 for caliper grade and 0.6575 for maturity grade), indicating that this was the most reliable indicator of shelf life. These results indicate that farmers should harvest bunches at 10 weeks (predicted shelf life 26 days, with a 95 % confidence interval of 6.3 days) after shooting, when shipping plantain to the U.K. by sea.


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