(April 29) Peaches, plums and nectarines aren’t the only fruit that can benefit from a comprehensive ripening program.

The California Avocado Commission, Santa Ana, is continuing its Ripe Max! program, encouraging retailers to offer avocados at several degrees of ripeness.

This year, the commission is testing a half-moon bin display for the packaged salad section, says Jan DeLyser, vice president of merchandising.

“The cooler temperatures in that part of the department will allow retailers to keep the ripe and ready-to-eat avocados at the perfect stage of ripeness for their impulse shoppers,” DeLyser says.

Mission Produce Inc., Oxnard, Calif., can pack a box of avocados to a specific degree of ripeness thanks to a Sinclair SIQ machine that “taps” a piece of fruit several times as it rotates on the packing line. The tapping measures the pressure of the fruit, which indicates its degree of ripeness, says Ross Wileman, vice president of sales and marketing.

The fruit then is packed according to its ripeness level, thus avoiding “checkerboarding” — the presence of several ripeness levels in the same box.

The California Pear Advisory Board, Sacramento, has a short video and a brochure for produce employees that tells how to handle and ripen bartlett pears, says Chris Zanobini, executive director.

The board has named a national ripening adviser, Dennis Kihlstadius, who visits retailers and conducts technical audits and seminars.

Zanobini says retailers can increase movement on pears from three to nine times by offering pears at several stages of ripeness.