Studies with Crisp-textured Blueberries

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  • 1 University of Florida, Horticultural Sciences, Gainesville, FL, 32611-0690

Over the past two decades, selections that produce crisp-textured blueberries have been noted by breeders. Research was conducted to determine how these selections differ from standard cultivars. Four blueberry clones with crisp texture were compared, using firmness, with 94 advanced selections from the University of Florida blueberry breeding program. The clones, tested for berry firmness with an Instron machine, produced a normal distribution. The crisp clones were at the high end of the distribution, but were not qualitatively different from other firm-fruited selections. Firmness was tested during final stages of berry development to determine if crisp clones softened more slowly than standard cultivars. In both 2003 and 2004, firmness decreased greatly from the white to pink stages of development, with slower loss of firmness thereafter. Crisp and commercial clones were similar in the timing of firmness loss. Berries from six crisp clones and four firm commercial cultivars were subjected to shear cell tests to see if the two groups could be distinguished. Shear cell tests from early and late harvests in the same year showed good agreement. Three of the four crisp clones were much higher in shear force than the other clones tested. A consumer sensory panel was conducted to determine if the average person could distinguish between the berries of crisp and standard cultivars. Ninety-five subjects were given two samples each of crisp and non-crisp blueberries, and asked to designate the one sample they thought the most crisp. Seventy-five subjects chose one of the two crisp clones and 20 chose one of the standard clones. This research indicates that crisp texture in blueberry exists and is recognizable and repeatable, but is difficult to objectively define.

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