The ‘Khenizi’ date palm is one of the most recognized date palm cultivars. It is commonly consumed at the Bisr, Rutab, and Tamr stages of ripening; however, the fruit has a short shelf/storage life at this stage of maturity even with refrigeration. Preharvest application of a natural elicitor chitosan (Ch) has been reported to have positive influences on quality and shelf life of many fruits; however, synergetic effects of Chand other natural elicitors have not been investigated. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the synergistic effect of preharvest spray treatments with Ch 1% in combination with calcium chloride (Ca) 3% and salicylic acid (SA) 2 mM on ‘Khenizi’ date fruit quality and storage life. Fruit quality parameters, including physical and physiochemical characteristics, phytochemical content, and bioactive properties, were determined at harvest time and during cold storage at 2 °C for 60 days for 2 months. Our results revealed that a combination of these elicitors had significantly influenced the fruit quality during storage compared with control. For instance, Ch+SA and Ch+Ca+SA treatments improved total phenolic content (TPC), and the antioxidant activity at harvest and at specific times during the postharvest storage period. Furthermore, Ch+SA+Ca treatment significantly delayed senescence in treated fruits during cold storage for 45 days as compared with other treatments and the control. In addition, Ch+Ca-treated fruits had the lowest weight loss after 45 days of cold storage. Ch+SA treatment had the lowest microbial counts as compared with other treatments, including the control. The significance of this study is that it provides evidence that a combination of these elicitors has the potential to improve fruit quality at harvest, as well as during postharvest storage Future studies should be directed to fine tune the concentrations and combinations that may have commercial applications.
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