Effects of hexanal dip on the post-harvest shelf life and quality of papaya (Carica papaya L.) fruit

Margaret Jesang Hutchinson, John Robert Ouko, Jane Ambuko, Willis Omondi Owino, Jayasankar Subramanian


The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of hexanal on the post-harvest shelf life and quality of papaya (Carica papaya L.) in two agro-ecological zones (AEZs II and IV) among small-holder farmers in Kenya. Hexanal was tested at two concentrations, 1% and 2%, and applied as a dip for 2.5 minutes or 5 minutes on mature green Solo Sunrise and Mountain papaya cultivars. Water was used as control. The experiment was done in a randomized complete block design with three replications; means were compared by Analysis of Variance using GenStat Version 15. Untreated papaya fruits lasted for 9 days whereas papaya fruits dipped in 2% hexanal for 5 minutes lasted for 15 days with ethylene and respiratory peaks delayed by three days (p < 0.05). These hexanal-dipped fruits lost up to 19% of their cumulative physiological weight (p < 0.05) after the entire storage period of 15 days, whereas controls lost up to 35% of their physiological weight over the same period, and were firmer in texture by 37.4% (p < 0.05). Titratable acidity in papaya fruits gradually decreased with time during the ripening period with no significant difference between the treated and the untreated fruits (p <0.05). Total soluble solids, however, increased as the fruit ripened and then declined with no significant differences between the treatments (p <0.05). Dipping the papaya fruits in hexanal had no effect on beta-carotene content but decreased the rate of vitamin C decline with fruit ripening (p < 0.05). The results of this study indicate that the use of hexanal could be a novel and viable option for reducing post-harvest losses of papaya (Carica papaya L.) in Africa, benefitting small-scale farmers as well as large-scale farmers and traders through improved post-harvest maintenance of quality and longer shelf life.


Post-harvest loss, Kenya, hexanal, papaya, shelf life, fruit quality

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