11.4 Maturation and ripening

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Several processes take place as fruit ripen to become edible and then senesce. They may take place while fruit are still attached or after harvest. Fruit are regarded as ready to harvest once they ‘mature’ because they are then capable of normal ripening off the plant. Tomato, banana and avocado are examples of fruit that can be mature at picking yet totally inedible until subsequent ripening processes have occurred. In contrast, strawberries, oranges, boysenberries and grapes are examples of fruit that need to stay on the tree or vine until ready to eat in order to have their desired eating characteristics. Underlying differences in their physiology are outlined below.