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Canopy position and cold storage duration affects mealiness incidence and consumer preference for the appearance and eating quality of ‘Forelle’ pears

Cronje, Arina, Crouch, Elke M., Muller, Magdalena, Theron, Karen I., van der Rijst, Marieta, Steyn, Willem J.
Scientia horticulturae 2015 v.194 pp. 327-336
air, appearance (quality), canopy, cold storage, color, consumer preferences, ethylene, firmness, flavor, fruit quality, harvesting, pears, ripening, storage time, texture, titratable acidity, total soluble solids, trees
The position of fruit within the pear tree canopy may affect fruit quality characteristics. The objective of this study was to determine whether outer and inner canopy ‘Forelle’ pears differ in quality attributes and how these differences relate to consumer preference when stored for 9, 12 and 16 weeks at −0.5°C in air and ripened for 7 days at 20°C. Fruit firmness, size, colour, total soluble solids concentration (TSS), titratable acidity (TA), internal ethylene concentration, dry matter concentration (DMC) as well as the incidence of mealiness were determined after each cold storage period and subsequent ripening. The flavour and texture of the pear samples were assessed by a trained panel and consumer groups scored pears for eating quality and appearance. In 2011, inner canopy pears that were cold stored for 12 and 16 weeks and ripened were preferred for eating quality. Mealiness was generally low in inner canopy pears and significantly lower than in outer canopy pears. Mealiness was low for both canopy positions after 16 weeks cold storage plus ripening. While the preference for inner canopy pears after 12 weeks storage may relate to the lower incidence of mealiness, reasons for the preference after 16 weeks cold storage are uncertain. In 2012, the incidence of mealiness in outer canopy pears was double that of inner canopy pears, which may explain the general consumer preference for inner canopy pears. The canopy position effect was less in 2012 when fruit were picked at more optimal firmness (±6.4kg) compared to harvesting at pre-optimum firmness (±7.9kg) in 2011. Mealiness levels decreased from 9 and 12 weeks cold storage to 16 weeks cold storage in 2012. This study therefore supports the mandatory 12 weeks cold storage period at −0.5°C for ‘Forelle’ pears to ensure optimum eating quality. In light of the above, inner canopy ‘Forelle’ pears should not be viewed as inferior to outer canopy pears. The consistent differences in mealiness incidence between inner and outer canopy ‘Forelle’ pears opens up a new avenue for investigating mealiness development.