Effect of harvest maturity and canopy cover on blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) fruit quality

Steven A. Sargent, Paul M. Lyrene, Abbie J. Fox, Adrian D. Berry


University of Florida breeding line FL 86-19 has been planted on several hundred acres in northern Florida and southern Georgia because it flowers late and ripens early. However, at times it has irregular quality, noted by nonuniform color at the stem end and poor flavor. This may be attributed to poor canopy development during fruit set and development. Growers report that poorly colored fruits will develop deeper blue color if held overnight at ambient temperature. In Spring 2002, blueberries were picked in the late morning at a commercial farm in north-central Florida at two ripeness stages, full color and partial color, and from bushes with well-developed and poor leaf canopies. Fruit were immediately brought to the laboratory and sorted. For Test 1, full color fruit were frozen for later analysis, while partial color fruit were held for 24 h at 20 °C (68 °F) (in vented clamshell containers; n = 3) and then frozen. For Test 2, full color and partial color fruit from both canopy types were stored in clamshells at 2 °C (36 °F) for 7 and 14 d. Best quality was obtained from fruit harvested at full color and from full canopy: soluble solids content was higher, total titratable acidity was lower, and fruit were firmer both initially and after 7 or 14 d storage. A delay to cooling of 24 h at 20 °C resulted in partial color fruit having slightly deeper color but with unacceptable shriveling. Therefore, blueberries should be picked at full color and cooled promptly for best quality.

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283