Vol.4, No.9, 443-448 (2013) Agricultural Sciences
Pre-harvest fruit bagging influences fruit color and
quality of apple cv. Delicious
Ram Roshan Sharma1*, Ram Krishna Pal2, Ram Asrey1, Vidya Ram Sagar1,
Mast Ram Dhiman3, Mani Ram Rana4
1Division of Post Harvest Technology, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, India;
*Corresponding Author: rrs_fht@rediffmail.com
2National Research Centre for Pomegranate, Solapur, India
3IARI Regional Research Station, Katrain, India
4Pomologist and Fruit Grower, Baragaon, Kullu, India
Received 9 May 2013; revised 10 June 2013; accepted 15 July 2013
Copyright © 2013 Ram Roshan Sharma et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution Li-
cense, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
An attempt was made to observe the effect of
pre-harvest bagging with spun-bound fabric
bags on color and quality of Delicious apple.
Bagging was done about a month before har-
vesting and removed 3-day before harvesting.
Bagged and non-bagged fruits were stored at
2˚C ± 1˚C and 90% - 95% RH. Observations were
recorded on color and fruit quality attributes
such as total phenolics, AOX activity, fruit Ca
contents, LOX activity, SSC and ascorbic acid
contents at harvest and during storage. Our
studies have revealed that bagged fruits have
better color development (Hunter “a” = 52) than
non-bagged fruits at harvest (Hunter “a” = 38),
which declined slightly during storage. Similarly,
at harvest, bagged fruits contained high amounts
of Ca (5.38 mg/100g) and total phenolics (9.3 mg
GAE/100g pulp) exhibited higher AOX activity
(12.6 µmoles Trolox g1), and had better SSC and
ascorbic acid contents than non-bagged fruits,
and there was a decline in all recorded parame-
ters during storage. Bagged fruits exhibited
lower LOX activity (1.38 µmoles min1 g1 FW) at
harvest than non-bagged fruits (2.14 µmoles
min1 g1 FW), indicating that non-bagged fruits
were more senescent than bagged fruits. Further,
LOX activity increased during storage both in
bagged and non-bagged apples but increase in
LOX activity was slower in bagged apples than
in non-bagged apples.
Keyw ords: Apple; Fruit Bagging; Color; Firmness;
LOX Activity; AOX Activity; Fruit Quality
Apple is considered as one of the most important fruit
crops of the world. In India, it is the 5th most important
fruit crop, which is grown primarily in hilly states like
Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttrakhand,
northern-eastern states and to some extent in hilly re-
gions of south India. From hills, the fruits are transported
to plains for storage or marketing [1]. Red colored ap-
ples are preferred in the market as these attract the con-
sumers. However, at lower elevations, color development
is not adequate, and hence, majority of the farmers use
ethrel (2-Chloroethyl Phosphonic Acid) as the pre-har-
vest foliar spray for color enhancement of the fruits.
Ethrel helps in the development of attractive red color in
apple fruits but it causes several adverse effects. For ex-
ample, it enhances fruit drop, pre-mature leaf-fall, be-
sides, the harvested fruits are of poor keeping-quality,
and such apples need to be harvested at a stretch to get
desirable price in the market [1]. Further,apples suffer
badly from several post harvest diseases and disorders
during storage and transportation, for which several che-
micals and fungicides are used. These chemicals and
fungicides may cause severe health problems to consumers.
Hence, efforts worldwide have been started to find out
some non-chemical approaches to reduce the incidence of
diseases and disorders in fruits including apple [2].
Of several such alternatives, pre-harvest fruit bagging
has emerged as one of the best approaches in different
parts of the world. In this technique, individual fruit or
fruit bunch is bagged on the tree for a specific period to
get desired results. It is a physical protection technique
commonly applied to many fruits, which not only im-
proves fruit visual quality by promoting fruit coloration
but also enhances internal fruit quality [3-8]. Pre-harvest
bagging of fruits has been conventionally practiced for
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. OPEN ACCESS
R. R. Sharma et al. / Agricultural Sciences 4 (2013) 443-448
fruit growing in Japan, Australia and China as well as in
peach, apple, pear, grape and loquat cultivation in order
to optimize fruit quality through reduced physiological
and pathological disorders and for improving fruit col-
oration to increase their market value [5] leading to im-
proved appearance [7]. Several authors have reported
contradictory results for the effects of pre-harvest bag-
ging on fruit size, maturity, peel color, flesh mineral
content and fruit quality, which may be due to differ-
ences in the type of bag used, the stage of fruit develop-
ment when it was bagged, duration of fruit exposure to
natural light after bag removal (before harvesting), and/
or fruit- and cultivar-specific responses [4,9,10]. Hence,
attempts have been made to observe the effects of col-
ored spun-bounded fabric bags on color and quality of
Delicious apple, which is most abundantly grown in India.
2.1. Experimental Site and Fruit Material
This study was conducted in the Division of Post
Harvest Technology, Indian Agricultural; Research Insti-
tute, New Delhi-110 012, India during 2010-2012. In
both the years, “Delicious” apples were bagged on-the-
tree with spun-bounded light-yellow colored fabric bags,
30 days before the expected date of harvesting (15th July)
every year in a private orchard at Kullu, Himachal Pra-
desh (India). Such bags have performed well in terms of
retention of color and other quality attributes in our pre-
liminary studies. The bags were removed 3 days before
the expected date of harvesting. 50 percent fruit on indi-
vidual tree were bagged and rests were not bagged. Each
bag treatment was given to 5 trees with three replications.
Every possibility was ensured for uniform distribution of
bags in the tree-directions and canopy heights. During
the period of bagging, trees were subjected to routine
cultural practices.
2.2. Observations Recorded and
The observations on fruit color, firmness, Calcium (Ca)
content, lipoxygenase (LOX) activity, and fruit quality
attributes such as soluble solid content (SSC), total phe-
nolics, antioxidant (AOX) activity, ascorbic acid (AA)
contents were recorded in bagged and non-bagged apples
at harvest. Then, apples were stored in cold storage (2˚C
and 90% ± 5% relative humidity) for six months. At the
end of 6th month of storage, apples were removed from
cold store and observations were recorded on above-
mentioned parameters.
2.2.1.Determination of Fruit Color
Fruit color in apple peel was measured from 20 ran-
domly selected apples. The parameters CIELab: L*, a*
and b*, were measured with a CR-200b tristimulus re-
flectance colorimeter (Minolta, Osaka, Japan). The pa-
rameter L* indicates brightness or lightness (0 = black,
100 = white), a* indicates chromaticity on a green (-) to
red (+) axis, and b* indicates chromaticity on a blue ()
to yellow axis (+).
2.2.2. Determination of Fruit Firmness
Fruit firmness was determined in 20 randomly selected
fruits with peel on both cheeks, using a texture analyzer
(model: TA + Di, Stable micro systems, UK) using com-
pression test and represented as N (Newton) (Sharma et
al., 2012). Each run was a replicate of 3 samples.
2.2.3. Determination of Total Phenolic Content,
and AOX Activity
Total phenolics of the fruit extracts were determined
by the Singleton and Rossi method [11] with some modi-
fications, and expressed in mg of gallic acid equivalents
(GAE)/100g of extract. Antioxidant capacity was deter-
mined by following CUPRAC method [12], and ex-
pressed as μmol Trolox g1.
2.2.4. Estimation of Ca Concentration in Fruit
Fruit Ca content in bagged and non-bagged fruits were
determined as per procedure of Sharma et al. [13]. After
ashing, the residue was dissolved in nitric acid to a final
solution concentration of 0.16 M. Fruit calcium content
was measured by atomic absorption spectrophotometer.
Samples of affected and normal fruit were drawn from
the storage, and from each fruit, 3 - 4 mm thick longitu-
dinal slices were taken, reducing the total weight of the
sample to 50 - 60 g.
2.2.5. Estimation of Lipoxygenase (LOX) Activity
1) Preparation of Substrate
The substrate was prepared as per the procedure des-
cribed for apple by Feys et al. [14] with slight modifica-
tions. First, linolenic acid (0.1 ml) was dissolved in 1 ml
0.1 N·NaOH solution. To this, 150 μL Triton-X-100 was
added. The solution was emulsified in an Ultra Turrax for
2 min, and diluted to 50 ml with distilled water. Blank was
prepared similarly by using substrate solution. The sub-
strate and the blank were stored at 4˚C in dark until use.
2) Preparation of Crude Enzyme Extract
Crude enzyme extract was prepared at 4˚C, following
the method of Axelrod et al. [15] with minor modifica-
tions. Diced 1 g apple fruit was homogenized in pre-chil-
led pestle and mortar by mixing in ice cooled 10 ml
EDTA. The homogenate was centrifuged at 15,000 × g
for 20 min at 4˚C and supernatant was used for assay of
lipoxygenase activity.
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R. R. Sharma et al. / Agricultural Sciences 4 (2013) 443-448 445
3) Measurement of LOX Activity
LOX enzyme assay was carried out as per the proce-
dure of Axelrod et al. [15] with minor modifications.
Firstly, 50 µL of enzyme extract was added to 2.50 µl of
substrate solution in a cuvette, mixed thoroughly and
absorbance was recorded at 234 nm in a spectropho-
tometer (Double beam UV-VIS spectrophotometer
UV5704SS) for 3 min at 30 sec interval. LOX activity
was expressed as “µmoles min1 g1 FW”.
2.3. Statistical Design and Data Analysis
The data generated for different parameters were
pooled and subjected to analysis as per standard proce-
dures [16]. The significance of the treatments was deter-
mined by developing ANOVA and the means were com-
pared by calculating critical difference (C.D.).
3.1. Effects on Fruit Color
Results of the study have revealed that fruit bagging
has significantly influenced the color development in
apples. Bagged apples with light-yellow bags resulted in
the development of attractive red color over non-bagged
apples (Figure 1). Conversely, the yellow/green color
development was suppressed by bagging. Hunter “a”
value, which is indicative of red color, was much higher
(52) in the bagged apples than non-bagged ones (38),
which slightly decreased during storage (Figure 1). Fruit
color is the basic point of attraction for the consumers.
Attractive color improves the physical appearance of the
fruit, which helps to get better price in the domestic or
export market. Earlier studies have reported that fruit
bagging in apple inhibited color development, however it
has now been established that fruit bagging is an effec-
Figure 1. CIB Hunter “a” values in bagged and non-bagged
Delicious apples at harvest and after 6th month of storage at 2˚C
± 1˚C and 90% - 95% RH. Data are the mean of 30 fruits across
three replications. Vertical bars indicate ± SE.
tive way to promote anthocyanin synthesis and improve
fruit coloration in apples [17,18]. It is believed that bag-
ging increases light sensitivity of fruit and stimulates
anthocyanin synthesis when fruits are re-exposed to light
after bag removal [19,20]. Bagged fruits are capable of
synthesizing anthocyanin when they were exposed to
light for few days before the actual date of harvest [18]).
3.2. Effect on Fruit Firmness, Ca Content
and LOX Activity
Fruit firmness is an important indicator for harvesting
of fruit at appropriate maturity, which also determines
the post harvest life of fruit. In this study, we observed
that fruit bagging has affected the fruit firmness. At har-
vest, bagged fruits had higher firmness (38.6 N) than
non-bagged fruits (32.0 N), and higher firmness was also
maintained during storage of apples, yet it declined
sharply during storage (Figure 2(a)). Only a few studies
have been conducted on this aspect, which revealed that
pre-harvest fruit bagging can influence the fruit firmness
at harvest. For example, Bentley and Viveros [21] re-
ported that fruit firmness of “Granny Smith” apples was
improved by brown paper bags when done at golf-size of
fruit development. However, Hofman et al. [4] reported
that fruit firmness was not affected by white paper bag in
Further, there was a significant effect of fruit bagging
on fruit Ca contents and LOX activity at harvest and
during storage. Bagged fruits also maintained higher
level of Ca (5.38 mg/100 g) than non-bagged fruits (4.58
mg/100g) at harvest (Figure 2(b)), and the LOX activity
in the bagged fruits was much lower (1.38 µmoles min1
g1 FW) than non-bagged fruits (1.82 µmoles min1 g
FW) (Figure 2(c)), which increased sharply with in-
crease in storage period, being maximum at the end of 6th
month of storage (Figure 3). Fruits contain several nu-
trients, which contribute to their quality. Since fruit bag-
ging is usually done in the orchard during fruit develop-
ment stage, hence it may subsequently influence the nu-
trient composition of fruits. For example, Kim et al. [20]
reported that fruit bagging in pear helped in increasing
Ca content but the contents of N and P were not signifi-
cantly affected by bagging. Further, the contents of K, Ca,
Mg were decreased by 9.6 %, 38.9 % and 6.7%, respec-
tively [22]. Similarly, Wang et al. [23] found that Ca
contents in the bagged apple fruits were higher than un-
bagged ones, and the incidence of bitter pit in the bagged
fruits was lower than that in the un-bagged fruits. In con-
trast, bagging in “Keitt” mango reduced the Ca concen-
tration in fruits [4]. However, Amarante et al. [15] re-
ported that pre-harvest bagging of pear did not affect
flesh content of N, P, K, Ca, and Mg. Similarly, Wang et
al. [24] reported no significant effect of bagging on fruit
Ca content in fruit peel of “Huangguan” pear. Lower
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R. R. Sharma et al. / Agricultural Sciences 4 (2013) 443-448
Figure 2. Fruit firmness (a), calcium content (b) and lipoxy-
genage activity (c) in bagged and non-bagged Delicious apples
at harvest and after 6th month of storage at 2˚C ± 1˚C and 90% -
95% RH. Data are the mean of 30 fruits across three replica-
tions. Vertical bars indicate ± SE.
LOX activity in bagged apples indicates that bagged ap-
ples were less senescent than non-bagged apples.
3.3. Effects on Total Phenolic Content and
AOX Activity
Our study has revealed that fruit bagging has signifi-
cantly influenced total phenolics contents, AOX activity
Figure 3. Total phenolics (a) and antioxidant activity (b) in
bagged and non-bagged Delicious apples at harvest and after 6th
month of storage at 2˚C ± 1˚C and 90% - 95% RH. Data are the
mean of 30 fruits across three replications. Vertical bars indi-
cate ± SE.
and fruit eating quality attributes such as soluble solids
and ascorbic acid contents significantly (Figure 3(a)).
Bagged apples contained higher levels of phenolics (9.3
mg GAE/100g pulp) and exhibited higher AOX activity
(12.6 µmoles Trolox g1) at harvest, which decreased
during storage but the level was higher in bagged fruits
(Figure 3(b)). Literature reveals that the effects of bag-
ging on phenolic compounds of fruits have given contra-
dictory information, which may reflect differences in
cultivar, bagging material, date of bagging, period of
bagging, date of bag removal and climatic conditions.
For example, Ju et al. [19] reported that simple phenol
concentration increased with bagging up to 60 days and
then declined in “Delicious” apple. Similarly, Hudima
and Stamper [25] reported that bagging of “Conference”
pears increased some phenolic compounds such as epi-
catechin and caffeic acid in skin. In contrast, Xu et al. [8]
reported that the total phenolic and flavonoid contents in
loquat were decreased by bagging treatments, which
lowered total antioxidant capacity (AOX) of the fruit. Yet,
Wang et al. [23] reported that bagging did not affect
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R. R. Sharma et al. / Agricultural Sciences 4 (2013) 443-448 447
Figure 4. Soluble solids content (a) and ascorbic acid content
(b) in bagged and non-bagged Delicious apples at harvest and
after 6th month of storage at 2˚C ± 1˚C and 90% - 95% RH.
Data are the mean of 30 fruits across three replications. Vertical
bars indicate ± SE.
chlorogenic acid and catechol contents of either fruit peel
or flesh in “Wanmi” peach.
3.4. Effect on Eating Quality Attributes
The ultimate aim of the producer is to produce fruits
of better quality, and consumer also wants to have fruits
of high quality. Eating quality of fruit includes attributes
such as total soluble solids, acidity etc. It appears from
our study that bagged apples had fairly higher level of
soluble solids (13.6˚B) and ascorbic acid content (28.6
mg/100pulp) at harvest than non-bagged apples (Figures
4(a) and (b))., which decreased during storage but was
maintained at a higher level than non-bagged apples.
Several studies have reported increase in fruit quality
attributes following fruit bagging. For example, Bentley
and Viveros [21] reported that fruit sweetness of “Granny
Smith” apples was improved by brown paper bags when
it was done at golf-size of fruit development. Similarly,
improvement in soluble solids has also been reported in
loquat [8], “Red Globe” grapes [26], peach [27], guava
[28], pear [29], mango [30] and litchi [31].
Based on these observations, it can be concluded that
fruit bagging with spun-bounded fabric light-colored yel-
low bags in Delicious apples is quite effective in improv-
ing fruit color and maintaining fruit quality at harvest
and during storage. It is a simple, cost-effective and eco-
friendly technology, which has positive effects on apple
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