Extending Tomato Shelf Life With Rice Straws

A postharvest technology developed by Mariano Marcos State University. Tomatoes if harvested properly and stored inside boxes with rice straws last for 60 days. This is a pretty good trick during oversupply from January to April. Farmers can sell their produce during off season when the price is expected to be higher.

Here it goes. Get a corrugated box of good condition. Lay 2-3 centimeters of dried rice straws. Arrange a single layer of mature green tomatoes. Put rice straws again and repeat until covered to the top. Set straws as top layer.

Remember! Tomatoes should be in mature green stage. Harvested in the morning. Free from bruises, diseases and ripes.

I see three basic conditions why this simple but useful technique works.

1) The sealed carton somewhat creates a reduce air and cold condition which ultimately slows down tomatoes physiological processes, retarding ripening and rot.

Of course the farmer should try their best to protect the carton itself. It should be stored in dry, cool and well ventilated area. Leaving it under the shine of sun is an effort wasted.

2) Mature green stage and free from damages. We all know, trying to prolong shelf life of red ripe fruit is futile. We choose mature, green and hard and try to slow down the ripening rate. The period from green to soft red is stage is the shelf life. The longer, the better.

We exclude ripe and damaged fruits not only because they ripe and rot easily. Ripe tomatoes and damaged parts release a ripening hormone called ethylene.

3) Rice straws also serve as cushion, preventing damage in between tomato layers. Improperly arranged straws won’t work well as intended.


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