Because of the high humidity and incidence of disease, grapes grown for commercial production in the southern United States need to be disease tolerant. The muscadine grape (V. rotundifolia Michx.) is native to the southern United States. Currently, muscadines are grown commercially in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, South Carolina, and Virginia, and are resistant to a variety of diseases and pests (Bouquet, 1981; Olien, 1990; Ren and Lu, 2002). Muscadine production can be very profitable for southern growers, and in a 2006 profitability study, 12 U.S. southern states grew ≈2025 ha of muscadine grapes, of which 90% were ‘Carlos’, a bronze-processing cultivar (Carpio et al., 2008; Cline and Fisk, 2006).
Consumer sensory evaluations on muscadines indicated that consumers liked the flavor of the grape but disliked the seeds and tough skin (Degner and Mathis, 1980). In a consumer study by Brown et al. (2016), thinner skins and higher juice pH were associated with greater overall liking of muscadine grapes. Consumer acceptability of muscadines can be quantified with soluble solids analysis, texture analysis, and sensory analysis (Brown et al., 2016). However, most of the studies have focused on juice rather than the whole muscadine berry (Flora, 1979; Meullenet et al., 2008; Trappey et al., 2007). In addition, limited studies have been carried out on descriptive sensory analysis of whole, fresh-market muscadine berries. Descriptive sensory analysis quantitatively describes fruit attributes, such as basic tastes, aroma, and texture, using trained panelists (Contador et al., 2017). Utilization of this method has the potential to describe how an attribute is perceived by the consumer. Descriptive sensory analysis provides valuable information for fruit breeders on fruit attributes to identify potential improvements.
The University of Arkansas’s Fruit Breeding Program began breeding muscadines in 2005 with a focus on large fruit size, crisp texture, edible skin, self-fruitful flowers, seedlessness, and improved postharvest storability (Barchenger, 2015a). Increasing the consumer liking of muscadine grapes, and products produced from these grapes, is an important consideration in muscadine breeding. Newer cultivars of fresh-market muscadines with improved consumer quality attributes have the potential to expand the grape market in the United States.
Understanding the physiochemical and sensory attributes of Arkansas-grown muscadine genotypes (cultivars and advanced selections) is important to demonstrate fresh-market potential. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the physiochemical attributes and descriptive sensory attributes of fresh-market muscadine grapes at harvest.
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