Mechanical damage resulting from excessive impact force during handling and other postharvest operations from harvesting to consumption is a critical quality problem in fresh produce marketing. The study investigates the impact of bruise damage, storage temperature, and storage period on the physiological responses of Omani pomegranate fruit cultivar ‘Helow’. Fruits were subjected to low (45°; 1.18 J) and high (65°; 2.29 J) impact levels using a pendulum test by hitting the fruit on the cheek side. Bruised and non-bruised fruit were stored at 5 and 22 °C for 28 days. Bruise measurements, water loss per unit mass, water loss per surface area, firmness, fruit size measurements, geometric mean diameter, surface area, fruit volume, color parameters, respiration rate, and ethylene production rate were evaluated. Bruise area, bruise volume, and bruise susceptibility of damaged pomegranate fruit were increased as impact level, storage duration, and storage temperature increased. Pomegranates damaged at a high impact level and conditioned at 22 °C showed 20.39% weight loss on the last day of storage compared to the control and low-impact-bruised fruit. Firmness and geometric mean diameter were significantly (p < 0.05) reduced by bruising at a high impact level. Impact bruising level and storage temperature decreased lightness, yellowness, browning index, and increased redness over time. Furthermore, the respiration rate was five times higher in the non-bruised and low- and high-impact-injured fruit stored at 22 °C than that stored at 5 °C. The ethylene production rate recorded its highest value on day 21 in high-level-impact-bruised pomegranate fruit. The bruise susceptibility was strongly correlated with the majority of the studied parameters. This study can confirm that bruising can affect not only the visual quality characteristics but also the physiological attributes of pomegranate fruit; therefore, much care is required to preserve fresh produce and avoid any mechanical damage and losses during postharvest handling.
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