​​As part of the Ministry of Agriculture’s work to reduce food loss, it has funded research and found out: What is the ideal point in the maturation and ripening process for harvesting mangoes?


The later the mango is harvested, the riper it is, tastier and beloved by consumers • The ripening indices will serve in the practice of determining the recommended timing for harvesting each one of the varieties, will help consolidate an internal standard for quality and will minimize the loss of prematurely-picked fruit

Who hasn’t bought a juicy-looking mango which, to all appearances, looked ripe, only to find once it’s been cut, that the fruit is pale in color or tasteless. A new experiment conducted by the Department of Fresh Produce Storage at the Upper Galilee Knowledge Center (MIGAL) Kiryat Shemona, funded by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Plants Production & Marketing Board, sets the timing of minimum ripening for harvesting mangoes in order to bring a ripe, sweet and juicy product thereby preventing sale of immature fruit. The study was conducted as part of the Ministry of Agriculture’s work to reduce food loss. The ripening indices will serve to determine the recommended timing for harvesting each one of the varieties, will help consolidate an internal standard for quality and will minimize the loss of prematurely-picked fruit.

Mango is cultivated in Israel to produce approximately 45,000 tons in the area surrounding Lake Kinneret, in the Beit She’an Valley and in the Arava, where half of the fruit is sold for domestic consumption and the other half is sent for export. The recommended harvesting season is July-October. However, many farmers choose to harvest the fruit as early as June, while still premature, in order to benefit from the high prices they can get early on in the season. The result is a scent and flavor misrepresenting the variety on offer - and dissatisfied consumers.   

The study took place in three of the varieties popular in Israel (Shelly, Maya, and Keitt). Each variety gets harvested at three to four different timings according to to the dates on which the farmers have harvested their fruit. About half of the fruit sampled were tested at the harvest date to define their state of maturity. The second half of the fruit underwent a process of artificial ripening and storage until the end of their shelf life, at which time the fruit were tested again and underwent tasting tests. 

For all varieties, the finding was that the fruit’s flavor progressively improved the later it was harvested. The tasters detected an increase in the fruit’s sweetness, its juiciness, flavor and aroma the later the harvest date. The tasters gave low grades to mango harvested during the first picking date. The survey results also indicated that despite the fact that the ripening rate and the color change were quick after about a week on the shelf, the fruit harvested in the first, early  picking was inferior compared with the later-picked fruit. 

Market Research Manager in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Zippi Friedkin: “Setting an internal quality standard for mango will help define the appropriate timing for harvesting each one of the varieties, thereby reducing the amount of prematurely-picked fruit. Fruit harvested at the wrong time undergoes a period of artificial ripening while in storage, which accelerates its softening and changes its color to appear ripe and ready for consumption. These fruit are put on offer to consumers at a premium price however their flavor is inferior to the fruit picked at the right time. Premature picking may disappoint the consumer and increase the rate of food loss in the consumer segment”.