`Bing' sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.) trees were treated with hydrogen cyanamide (CH2N2) or calcium ammonium nitrate (CaNH4NO3) during dormancy, or gibberellic acid (GA3) 26 days before harvest during three consecutive years. Fruit were evaluated at harvest for sensory taste quality using twenty trained panelists sampling for firmness, sweetness, tartness, and cherry flavor. Nondestructive instrumental firmness preceded destructive sensory firmness on the same untreated and GA3-treated cherries in one year when used as a supplementary evaluation. Sensory firmness was consistently higher in GA3 fruit and to a lesser extent in CH2N2 fruit than in CaNH4NO3 and untreated fruit. Instrumental firmness of GA3 fruit did not increase significantly compared with untreated fruit yet instrumental firmness of each treatment correlated relatively well with perceived sensory firmness. Sensory sweetness and cherry flavor scored very similarly, yet both attributes simultaneously varied between treatments across the years. Perceived sensory tartness of treated fruit was variable among years; yet, on average, was rated among treated and untreated fruit as similar. Under the assumption that elevated sensory firmness, sweetness, and cherry flavor intensity reflects improved sweet cherry quality, GA3 fruit were rated of higher quality than untreated fruit given their increased firmness and similar or occasionally elevated sweetness and cherry flavor intensity. CH2N2 fruit maintained quality similar to that of untreated fruit, despite often having marginally higher firmness, due to similar or reduced ratings for sweetness and cherry flavor intensity. Notwithstanding similar firmness between CaNH4NO3 and untreated cherries, sensory quality of CaNH4NO3-treated cherries was reduced due to their often-diminished levels of perceived sweetness and cherry flavor.
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