Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/7/2001
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary: Fruit firmness in blueberry plays a role in consumer perception of fruit quality, and in the long run, in marketability and consumer demand. Firm fruit is better suited to withstand both mechanical harvesting and subsequent shipping than is softer fruit, and fruit of firmer cultivars can be left on the bush longer than fruit of soft cultivars, allowing more flexibility in timing of harvests. Fruit firmness was assayed in 88 highbush blueberry cultivars (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) including some cultivars with wild species ancestry. There were significant differences in the firmness among the various cultivars. Species background was not consistently related to firmness; however, cultivars with higher firmness values often possessed a higher percentage of ancestry of a species called V. darrowi and/or rabbiteye blueberry. Conversely, those cultivars with softer than average fruit often possessed higher percentages of lowbush ancestry. This information may help to identify sources of breeding material for increased firmness in highbush blueberry hybrids, and ultimately should result in firmer, better quality blueberry fruit for the consumer.
Technical Abstract: Eighty-eight highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) and species-introgressed blueberry (V. x corymbosum L.) cultivars were evaluated for fruit firmness in the 1998-2000 growing seasons using a FirmTech 1 automated firmness tester. Significant differences were observed among cultivars. An average firmness of 136.6 g/mm of deflection (g/mm dfl.) was observed across all studied cultivars, and a range of 80.4 g/mm dfl. ('Herbert') to 186.5 g/mm dfl. ('Misty'). Species ancestry was not consistently related to firmness; however, cultivars with higher firmness values often possessed a higher percentage of V. darrowi Camp and V. ashei Reade ancestry. Conversely, those cultivars with softer than average fruit often possessed higher percentages of lowbush (V. angustifolium Ait.) ancestry. This information may help to identify sources of breeding material for increased firmness in highbush blueberry hybrids.