Submitted to: International Journal of Fruit Science
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/10/2011
Publication Date: 10/3/2012
Publication URL: handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/58559
Citation: Lewers, K.S., Luo, Y., Vinyard, B.T. 2012. Strawberry breeding selections for postharvest fruit decay. International Journal of Fruit Science. 13:126-138. Interpretive Summary: Strawberry fruit are highly perishable and have a short storage life. For growers, fruit rot that occurs in the field before harvest decreases strawberry yield. For consumers, fruit rot that occurs after fruit are harvested decreases fruit quality. Using weather data collected in the strawberry field, we determined that weather conditions just a few days before harvest can affect strawberry storage life as well as fruit rot that occurs in the field and during storage. Rain increased fruit rot in the field but did not affect storage life; humid air in the field affected storage life but did not affect rot in the field. These findings can be used by strawberry researchers to develop new varieties that have reduced fruit rot in rainy humid weather, and by strawberry growers to reduce fruit rot in the field and in storage.
Technical Abstract: Fruit from the annual replicated yield assessments for the USDA-ARS strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa Duchesne ex Rozier) breeding program at Beltsville, MD in 2010 were evaluated for postharvest decay development after storage at 5 °C. A statistically significant correlation between percentage decay of fruit in the field and percentage decay of fruit from post-harvest evaluation was observed when data were analyzed on a genotypic mean basis (37%) or a field plot basis (25%) across all harvests. Analysis of the same data on a plot by harvest combination basis resulted in a statistically significant correlation for only one harvest date. While significant, the level of correlation on a genotypic mean basis is not strong enough to dismiss the need for post-harvest evaluation. The percentage postharvest decay increased over harvests, while the percentage decay at harvest, in the field, did not. Weather data from 2010 indicated that field conditions just a few days before harvest can affect percentage decay at harvest differently than percentage decay in postharvest storage; rain events increased percentage decay in the field but not postharvest decay, while dry air decreased percentage decay postharvest but not decay in the field. These findings suggest that, in some environments, conditions after flowering can have a more significant role in strawberry fruit decay than previously has been reported.