Strawberry cultivars grown for “pre-picked” markets need to maintain quality during short-term postharvest storage in contrast to those destined for “U-pick” harvest. However, very little information is available on berry quality during postharvest storage of cultivars grown in matted-row culture in eastern North America. To determine how rapidly berry quality may change and identify cultivars best-suited for pre-picked markets, the postharvest performance of 16 cultivars grown in matted rows was compared. Berries were sampled at harvest, after 3 days of 4 °C storage within sealed plastic bags, and after 3 subsequent days at 20 °C. Quality traits assessed included fruit firmness, color, titratable acidity, pH, soluble solids, and percent weight loss. At harvest, berry quality varied by cultivar and from early to late harvest dates. Berry quality changed very little during 4 °C storage. During the subsequent 20 °C storage, berry quality traits changed more for some cultivars than others. In particular, soft fruit at harvest and/or a rapid decline in berry firmness indicated that several cultivars were not suited for short-term storage. Based on the cumulative data, several cultivars can be identified as better suited for pre-picked markets.
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