‘Honeycrisp’ apple is susceptible to the postharvest chilling disorder soft scald that renders fruit unmarketable. Reducing or preventing this disorder is an important component of ‘Honeycrisp’ postharvest management. In commercial settings, advanced fruit maturity and orchard history contribute to an estimation of soft scald susceptibility, but additional at-harvest information indicative of soft scald risk would enable better management decisions. In this study, we obtained fruit from commercial orchards for 3 successive years, and assessed field growing degree days (GDD), field chilling hours (CH), and fruit quality metrics at harvest, followed by soft scald incidence assessment at 12 weeks of cold storage. The analyses indicated starch index, soluble solids content (SSC), internal ethylene concentration, titratable acidity (TA), peel background color, firmness, GDD, or CH do not reliably indicate fruit susceptibility to soft scald. However, SSC and TA were elevated in fruit that later developed soft scald, and a higher number of GDD also sometimes preceded soft scald, which is consistent with advanced fruit maturity that can enhance soft scald risk. Overall, results suggest that other tools may be required to accurately predict postharvest soft scald on a quality control laboratory scale. The statistical analyses applied to the present study would have utility for assessing other soft scald prediction tools or markers.
This research was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crops Research Initiative (project number 2010-51181-21446) and the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission. We gratefully acknowledge editing assistance from Jinwook Lee, statistical guidance from Jerry Tangren, and technical assistance from Janie Countryman, Nate Sullivan, Dave Buchanan, and Karen Blaedow. We also thank the three anonymous reviewers whose suggestions improved this manuscript.
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