539 Firmness of Blueberry Fruit Following Storage in Air or Controlled Atmospheres

in HortScience
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  • 1 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Atlantic Food and Horticulture Research Centre, 32 Main St., Kentville, N.S., B4N 1J5, Canada

Factors affecting the firmness of `Burlington', `Coville', and `Jersey' highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) during storage in controlled atmospheres or air were characterized. Fruit were stored for up to 9 weeks in 6-ounce plastic clamshells at 0 or 3 °C. Fruit firmness was measured as grams per millimeter of fruit deformation using a FirmTech1 firmness tester (Bioworks, Stillwater, Okla.). Blueberry fruit held in sealed chambers in 0% CO2/15% O2 did not soften during storage. At 0 and 3 °C, fruit firmness of all cultivars increased an average of 30% after 9 weeks of storage. Changes in fruit firmness varied between cultivars and ranged from no change in `Coville' fruit held at 3 °C to an increase in firmness of 9 g·mm–1 per week in `Burlington' fruit held at 3 °C. CO2 inhibited the postharvest firming of blueberry fruit and at higher concentrations induced softening. At 0 °C, fruit firmness decreased below initial values when held in concentrations of CO2 >12% for `Burlington' and >10% for `Coville' and `Jersey'. At 3 °C, fruit were more tolerant to CO2 and softening occurred at CO2 concentration >17% for `Burlington', and >12% for `Coville' and `Jersey' fruit. CO2-induced softening was enhanced by increased storage time. CO2 also was effective in reducing fruit decay. After 9 weeks, 2% and 36% of fruit held in air at 0 and 3 °C, respectively, were decayed. However, all fruit held in 10 to 25% CO2 had <1% decay. Controlled atmospheres of 10% to 15% CO2 reduced decay while maintaining fruit firmness.

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