EVALUATING A SIMPLE SYSTEM FOR BLACKBERRY SHELF LIFE

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  • 1 1USDA–ARS, South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory, Lane, OK 74555
  • 2 2Department of Horticulture, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701

The postharvest life of blackberries is shortened by decay, leakage, and softness. Shelf life is shortened after periods of rainfall, and often fruit that appear firm in the field soften rapidly in storage. Blackberry selections of interest for advanced selections from plants without fungicide application are routinely screened for shelf life at Lane by storing fruit at 5 °C for seven days. Blackberry varieties are increasingly being used for farmer's markets, national, and international markets. A rapid test to gauge shelf life of blackberry varieties new to growers would be useful in determining the best type of marketing. Ripe blackberries were harvested from Clarksville, Ark., and transported in 260 g plastic clamshells on ice (about 5 °C) to Lane, Okla. Berries were weighed upon arrival and placed at 5 or at 20 °C for 7 and 2 days, respectively. Overall ratings were considerably worse at 20 °C compared to 5 °C, often with decay on all fruit in clamshells held at 20 °C. Separate subsamples of berries, placed individually in egg cartons and held over water at 20 °C (a 99% relative humidity) yielded Rhizopus, Collectotricum, and Botrytis cinerea growth after 24 hours. Because 2 days at 20 °C proved to cause decay in blackberries too quickly, fruit will be held for 1 day at 20 °C in the next season.

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