The postharvest performance of early ripening southern highbush blueberries `Sharpblue' and `Gulfcoast' was evaluated under storage and simulated retail conditions. In general, `Gulfcoast' fruit were 28% heavier than those of `Sharpblue', which had a higher percent soluble solids concentration (SSC) and lower titratable acidity (TA). Quality loss, as indexed by fresh weight, percent decayed fruit, or changes in SSC, pH, or TA, was insignificant in first-harvest fruit of either cultivar when kept in storage (2C) for up to 7 days. Transfer of fruit stored at 2C for 3 days to simulated retail conditions at 21C for 4 days significantly increased fresh weight loss and decay, but not beyond levels deemed unmarketable. Second-harvest fruit were smaller than first-harvest fruit, and those of `Sharpblue' fruit were more prone to decay. However, storage quality of both cultivars was acceptable through 11 days at 2C. Retail quality, as influenced by decay incidence, was acceptable after 3 days at 2C plus 4 days at 21C, but not after 3 days at 2C plus 8 days at 21C. Overall, fruits of these early ripening southern highbush blueberry cultivars performed well under postharvest conditions and are suitable for expanding production of premium fresh blueberries by growers in the Gulf coastal plains.
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