Submitted to: Postharvest Biology and Technology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 16, 2007
Publication Date: April 23, 2008
Citation: Lester, G.E., Saftner, R.A. 2008. Marketable quality and phytonutrient concentrations of a novel hybrid muskmelon intended for the fresh-cut industry and its parental lines: Whole-fruit comparisons at harvest and following long-term storage at 1 or 5 deg C. Postharvest Biology and Technology. 48(2):248-253.
Interpretive Summary: Muskmelon fruit with typical quality attributes combined with a relatively long shelf-life (up to 5 weeks) is required for overseas surface shipments to supply the fresh-cut industry during lags in U.S. production. Currently it appears that one such melon hybrid exists. The Seminis Seed Co. hybrid, a cross between an ultra-firm netted melon genotype and a commercial muskmelon cultivar genotype, has relatively low moisture loss, decay-related disorders and senescence (MDA) attributes. This makes it suitable for long-term surface shipment and relatively superior piece yield (fruit size), quality-related orange hue, firmness and sweetness attributes and health-related bioactive compound contents, making it likely suitable for fresh-cut processing and marketing.
Year-round demand for fresh-cut produce, such as muskmelon (Cucumis melo L. Reticulatus group) fruit, can include importation of whole-fruit from as far away as Chile; requiring expensive air shipments. Surface shipments would reduce these transportation expenses, but would also require a longer shelf-life fruit than what is now commercially available to withstand the shipping/storage time frame of up to five weeks prior to fresh-cut processing. Current muskmelon cultivars have a fruit storage life of up to two weeks. The purpose of this study was to compare a novel hybrid with its muskmelon parental lines (ultra-firm female × commercial muskmelon cultivar type male) for whole-fruit horticultural marketable quality and phytonutrient attributes following up to five weeks at 1 or 5 degrees C. At harvest, repeated over two-years, whole hybrid fruit were larger (33% to 37% heavier) than its parental lines, and had an external firmness equal to its female parent. The external and internal firmnesses of the female parent averaged 4.5-fold and 3.6-fold firmer, respectively, than those of the male parent. Compared to its male parent, the internal tissue of hybrid fruit following five weeks at 1 or 5 degrees C had more intense orange chroma, due to higher concentrations of beta-carotene, was sweeter (relative sweetness), had a 7-fold higher concentration of 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (folic acid), fewer internal disorders, and reduced senescence. The aforementioned tissue firmness of hybrid fruit would make it highly suitable to withstand surface shipments of up to 5 weeks; and the aforementioned quality characteristics would make it likely preferable to consumers both taste-wise and nutritionally as a fresh-cut product.