Postharvest Diseases of Fruits & Vegetables

Postharvest diseases affect fruits and vegetables after harvest. Fungi and bacteria are very opportunistic and readily invade fruits and vegetable crops by way of insects, mechanical damage during harvest and through improper storage conditions. All fruits and vegetables eventually succumb to decay in one form or another, but practicing proper handling and storage increases shelf life so less food is wasted.


Antracnose is often found on ripe or overripe fruits, such as bananas, papayas and mangoes. Wet, warm conditions are favorable to anthracnose development. Symptoms include rapidly enlarging brown areas that become ragged-edged, black lesions.

Rhizopus Rot

Rhizopus rot is common on peach, cherries and strawberries, appearing first as small brownish lesions, and later as fluffy white fungus that develops into a dark gray to black mass as the fungus produces spores.

Bacterial Soft Rot

Bacterial soft rot affects potatoes, leafy vegetables, carrots, onions, tomato and onions, among others. According to University of Georgia Extension, soft rot causes more produce loss than any other bacterial disease. Soft rot disease results in infected tissues becoming soft, slimy and putrid.

Grey Mold Rot

Grey mold rot is a common postharvest disease of grape, apple, pear, strawberry and leafy vegetables. The symptoms of grey mold rot vary depending on the fruit or vegetable. For example, grey mold infection of apple, in its advanced stage, often appears like a baked apple, with lightened, mushy skin and sweet fermented odor. Strawberries infected with grey mold become covered with gray powdery fungal spores.

Watery Soft Rot

Watery soft rot, also known as Sclerotinia disease, is a postharvest pathogen of produce such as leafy vegetables and carrots. This disease leads to watery breakdown of infected tissues.

Keywords: postharvest diseases, decay of crops, harvest diseases

About this Author

Marie Roberts is a freelance writer based in north central Florida. She has a B.S. in horticultural sciences from the University of Florida. Roberts began writing in 2002 and is published in the "Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society."