There is a misconception that nectarines destined for air freight can or should be harvested significantly more mature. Transit temperatures for air-freight fruit vary depending on circumstances. However, in most cases air and fruit pulp temperature recordings on air-freight fruit have indicated that fruit can be subjected to approximately 16 °C for two days. Ripening will therefore occur during air freight and fruit harvested at advanced maturity may become overripe during transit. For this reason it is best to harvest approximately 1 to 2 kg softer than the maximum flesh firmness (in the upper half of the maturity window).
Packing and cooling
Standard packaging should be used (refer to cultivar specific information). Fruit must be placed under forced-air cooling and cooled to below 3 °C before air freight. This is important since ripening will be retarded compared to uncooled fruit. Condensation will occur on the fruit upon removal from the cold stores, but since the fruit will be marketed within a week, decay that is normally associated with wet fruit should not be a problem.