Throughout the year our technical team continuously runs tests on samples of our fruit. Prior to and during harvest they carry out maturity testing, this involves sampling each variety across all of our farms, every single orchard will be sampled on a regular basis until the date we harvest the fruit.
Once the fruit is in our stores, the team will then start store monitoring, continuing sampling the fruit monthly from sample hatches in the stores to gauge how it is kept over time until the stores are opened, and the fruit is processed through the packhouse.
To begin this process the team visually checks each fruit in a sample for foreground and background colour, gauge an average size profile, and looks for any pests, diseases, and disorders.
They then move onto the destructive tests starting with a pressure/firmness test in kg, this is done using a penetrometer which provides them with an average pressure over a certain number of fruits in a sample. Overtime pressures will decrease as the fruit matures and during its storage time.
The next step is to carry out a brix/sugar test using a refractometer, this will provide a reading from each fruit where they can get an average of the brix level in the sample, as the fruit matures the brix readings increases showing the fruit is maturating.
During harvest the team will also include a starch test, where the fruit is cut into halves and dipped into a potassium iodide solution, this will give the fruit a black pattern, the darkness and pattern from the solution shows the amount of starch present in the fruit. During harvest as the fruit ripens its starch levels convert into sugars, this allows us to ensure we pick the fruit at the optimum time.