Capsicums and chillies are maturing fruit. Most markets prefer capsicums that are fully green or fully coloured. While coloured fruit generally get the best prices, delaying harvest can increase losses. Although capsicums cannot be artificially ripened, they continue to change colour during storage at warm temperatures.
The waxy skin of capsicums lacks either lenticels or stomata. This makes them relatively resistant to water loss. However, only 3% weight loss results in detectable softening. Capsicums harvested in hot weather should therefore be immediately placed in the shade to avoid dehydration and sunburn.
Unlike glasshouse grown fruit, field-grown capsicums usually need to be washed. Capsicums should never be immersed in water, but cleaned with brushes and water jets. Sanitisers can help reduce microbial load and, therefore, storage rots.
Capsicums and chillies should ideally be cooled below 8°C within 24 hours of harvest. Forced air and well-circulated room cooling systems are suitable. Longer delays increase softening and development of rots, particularly in the stem and calyx.
Capsicums are chilling sensitive. However, sensitivity depends on growing conditions, cultivar and harvest maturity. For example, red fruit are less chilling sensitive than green fruit, and healthy capsicums are less chilling sensitive then those grown under stress. Storage life is generally maximised at 2−5°C.