Balangon bananas take about 23 to 28 days from harvest to reach Japan since the fruit have to be assembled from small and scattered farms, hence the problems of premature ripening and crown rot. The effectiveness of vacuum packaging in retarding ripening and in controlling crown rot has not been documented for organically-grown Balangon bananas. Balangon bananas harvested from farms in Don Severino Benedicto, Negros Occidental, Phillipines, were washed three times in tap water, then packed (wet packing) in a 13-kg capacity corrugated fibreboard carton lined with 0.05 mm thick low density polyethylene (LDPE) bag, and vacuum-packed using an ordinary vacuum cleaner. Bananas treated with 1% sodium bicarbonate were also subjected to vacuum packing. Packaged bananas were then loaded in refrigerated vans (13.0–13.5 °C), transported to Manila and then to the UPLB-PHTRC laboratory for simulated domestic and international shipments which took about 25 days from harvest until the bananas reached Japan. Bananas were then taken out of the sealed LDPE, allowed to equilibrate at 18 °C, treated with 2500 µL/L ethephon, and held at 23 °C for ripening. During the 25-day holding at 13.0–13.5 °C, bananas that were vacuum-packaged remained green. In the control (not vacuum-packaged), a few fingers in each hand started to ripen. The most significant effect of vacuum packaging in combination with 13 °C storage was the control of crown rot, particularly when bananas started to ripen. With vacuum packaging, the incidence of crown rot at the ripe stage was 2.8% compared with 55.7% in the control. Sodium bicarbonate did not control crown rot alone, nor contribute to the reduction caused by packaging and vacuum associated with the control of decay was the high visual quality rating of the fruit. Extended storage under vacuum-packed conditions did not significantly affect the physico-chemical and sensory attributes of bananas at the ripe stage.
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