An avocados dry matter directly influences the shelf life of your product. Dry matter is the solid content within the avocado minus its water content, and it’s known as an indicator of mature fruit. Measuring the dry matter in your harvest has become one of the most reliable methods to indicate avocados ripeness. Making avocado harvesting much more straightforward for these climacteric fruits.
Let’s have a closer look at how and why measuring dry matter has become so important for avocado harvesters across the globe.
Why Dry Matter is Crucial to a Prosperous Harvest
As your fruit matures its dry matter percentage increases and its oil content creeps higher which creates the avocados signature creamy buttery texture. Although the higher this content is the shorter its self life will be, the mouthfeel and texture of your avocados will be higher in quality.
It’s typically found that the earlier the season the lower this occurrence and amount of dry matter will be found in your fruit. So, as the season progresses, dry matter will increase and days of shelf life will decrease.
This dry matter is made up of all of the carbohydrates, vitamins, proteins, fats, fibers and sugars found in the fruit. And has been proven to be an accurate measurement of flavour and customer satisfaction.
While the level of oil in your fruit is a typical indicator of its maturity, it’s not an easy estimate to measure. 11.2% oil content is considered the minimal level to pinpoint the avocados maturity and the higher the oil content, the better the fruit tastes. While leaving avocados on the tree longer would allow more oil to be produced it would leave no time for transport and storage. Which is where the measurement of dry matter comes into play. There is a collearted link between the fruit’s oil content and dry matter, so by using this more reliable measurement it can become easier to pinpoint exactly when your harvest machines is at its ripest.
How is Dry Matter Measured?
The measurement of (dry weight / wet weight) x 100 = % dry matter is the typical conventional method that’s used by most farmers. This is achieved by weighing your sample piece, which is the ‘wet weight’, before then drying it in an oven or microwave until all the moisture has evaporated. It’s then weighed again to measure its ‘dry weight’.
New methods that use near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy is another up and coming method that is non-destructive while still presenting an accurate reading. These low-cost machines can give you results instantly, whether that’s in your field or your packing houses.
Conditions that Need to be Met in Order to Accurately Use the Dry Matter Method
If you want an accurate reading from your product there are a few conditions that need to be met in order to achieve this. With any testing it’s important to evaluate many trees, not just one, picking the least ripe looking fruit and measuring at its widest part (as the distribution of dry matter is not spread evenly throughout the fruit).
No matter which method of measurement you’re using, these tests should be taken in the morning, when your fruit is the most hydrated. If you are conducting your measurement through the conventional standard you should wrap your sample fruit in plastic to prevent any loss of moisture for its wet weight measurement.
Tips During Harvesting and Storing
After determining when it’s the best time to harvest your fruit with its dry matter content in mind there are a few extra tips that can help in attaining this desired content matter.
Harvesting your fruit when it’s dry can decrease the occurrence of rot on your fruit. This being said you shouldn’t be harvesting in hot weather or warmer temperatures where the fruit can’t be cooled down immediately.
Once harvested your fruit should be kept in the shade until it can be cooled down in storage no more than a day later. Hass avocados should be cooled to 4°C to 5°C and other varieties to 6°C to 8°C to ensure storage for up to four weeks and two weeks.
Your Best Harvest Awaits
Now that you know the importance of your harvests dry matter content it’s time to go out there and achieve the best produce possible. Contact Galaxy Group for the best avocado harvesters available on the market.