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Pre-harvest factors influencing the quality of berries

Di Vittori, Lucia, Mazzoni, Luca, Battino, Maurizio, Mezzetti, Bruno
Scientia horticulturae 2018 v.233 pp. 310-322
climatic factors, cultivars, fruit quality, genetic factors, harvesting, latitude, nutritive value, pest resistance, salinity, sensory properties, small fruits, soil quality, soilless culture, vitamins, water stress
Quality of berries is a difficult concept to describe objectively. The aim of this review is, to better define the concept of quality in berries, and summarize the main pre-harvest factors that influence quality of the fruit. Berry quality could be defined as a set of agronomic/commercial, organoleptic and nutritional qualities: the first one comprising of characters that belong to the adaptation of the plant to specific cultivation such as fruit size, plant yield, harvesting speed, and resistance to pests and diseases. Organoleptic quality is the main set of characteristics generally related to quality attributes that are recognizable through the five senses of the consumer. Finally, nutritional quality is the “hidden” quality present in berry fruits, that comprises all the macro- and micro-nutrients, vitamins and bioactive compounds.Not only are these characteristics very variable among different species, but also among different cultivars within the same species. This kind of variability is ascribed to the category of genetic factors. The adaptability of berries to different climatic conditions (different latitude, soil conditions, production cycle, light exposition, etc.) represent the environmental factor that influence fruit quality. Finally, also the so called agronomic factors, related to the cultivation systems (open field or protected or soilless cultivation, organic or conventional cultivation), fertilization, water stress and salinity, and fruit harvest, influence the final quality of the berry fruits.