Location: Horticultural Crops Research
2013 Annual Report
Our approach to a solution: The goal of the project is to develop genetic information hastening the development of the horticulturally superior BR cultivars with improved sensory quality that will fuel industry growth. The role of Ohio State researchers is to determine the quality traits that matter most to consumers using analytical, sensory and in-depth consultation techniques. We manage a replicated planting of advanced BR selections for use in sensory evaluation and consumer efforts. We also act as one of four hosts for segregating populations of BR breeding stock used to identify important horticultural and fruit quality BR genes and to study their stability in differing environments. Finally, we are involved in outreach efforts.
Progress this year: Our first consumer testing will occur in 2014 as plants mature to bear a sufficient quantity of fruit. Nevertheless, we have developed the post-sensory evaluation interview protocols and are preparing for consumer focus groups in order fully understand consumer attitudes and habits in relation to potential BR purchases. We are also exploring messaging techniques to improve BR market share. Survey instruments and protocols to ascertain purchasing incentives of larger buyers (processors, retail grocery chains, etc.) have also been developed. We have developed a project website that introduces PIs and their projects, and connects participating growers, berry organizations and berry social media in relation to the project. We have used this tool to post research and presentations and papers developed. To engage website users in a richer way, we are also completing and posting videos from grant PIs describing their background and their research and its relevance. A photo database is also being posted to the site along with consumer information and tips. Fruit was harvested from the advanced selection plot and processed for sensory evaluation by trained panelists later this year. We have also explored several analytical techniques for extracting and evaluating flavor compounds present in these fruit and have developed an analytical library of over 30 flavor compound standards. We collected horticultural performance data on over 250 genotypes within the breeding populations and harvested fruit samples that will be analyzed for quality traits by NC-based grant participants. Finally, we established over 50 additional breeding population genotypes produced by the USDA NCGC in 2013.
The potential importance of our efforts: By fully integrating flavor compound identification, trained sensory evaluation, consumer preference studies and an in-depth exploration of consumer perspectives, this sub-project will add depth to the genetic studies undertaken by our colleagues and will be immediately useful to breeders engaged in developing tomorrow’s superior cultivars that will drive increased BR production and industry growth.