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Phillipa J. Jackson and F. Roger Harker

Electrical impedance was used to determine the extent of tissue damage that occurred as a result of bruising of apple fruit (Malus ×domestica Borkh, cvs. Granny Smith and Splendour). Impedance measurements were made before and after bruising. Plots of reactance against resistance at 36 spot frequencies between 50 Hz and 1 MHz traced a semicircular arc, which contracted in magnitude after bruising. A number of characteristics of these curves were then related to bruise weight. The change in resistance that occurred as a result of fruit impact (ΔR50Hz) was the best predictor of bruise weight, with r2 values up to 0.71. Before bruising, resistance of fruit was higher in `Splendour' than in `Granny Smith' (P < 0.001), and at 0 °C than at 20 °C (P < 0.001), but was not influenced by fruit weight. The influence of apple cultivar and temperature on electrical impedance may cause difficulties when implementing these measurements in a commercial situation. However, further development of electrical impedance spectroscopy methodologies may result in convenient research techniques for assessing bruise weight without having to wait for browning of the flesh.

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Richard K. Volz, F. Roger Harker, and Sandy Lang

Puncture force was measured in `Gala'apple [Malus sylvestris (L.) Mill. var. domestica (Borkh.) Mansf.] fruit from 16 to 175 days after full bloom over 2 years using a range of circular flat-tipped probes (1 to 11 mm diameter) to test the firmness of each fruit. The area-dependent (Ka) and perimeter-dependent (Kp) coefficients of puncture force were determined and were used to calculate the indicative puncture force approximating a standard 11.1-mm-diameter Effegi/Magness-Taylor probe for even the smallest fruit. Ka declined exponentially throughout fruit development with much greater changes occurring closer to bloom. In contrast, maximum Kp occurred at 107 to 119 days after full bloom before declining progressively. Estimated firmness (using a 11.1-mm-diameter probe) declined constantly from 16 days after full bloom. Ka was associated with developmental changes in cortical tissue intercellular air space, cell volume and cell packing density although relationships changed throughout fruit growth. However seasonal change in Kp was not associated with any obvious anatomical change in the cortex.

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Nele De Belie, Ian C. Hallett, F. Roger Harker, and Josse De Baerdemaeker

The tensile properties of european pear (Pyrus communis L. `Beurre Bosc') and asian pear (Pyrus pyrifolia Nakai `Choguro') were examined using a microscope-mounted apparatus that allowed direct observation and recording of cell and tissue changes during testing. To manipulate turgor potential, tissue slices from fruit of different firmness (ripeness) were incubated in sucrose solutions of differing water potential. Solution water potentials were adjusted for individual fruit, and varied between -2.5 and 1 MPa from the water potential of the expressed juice. Fruit firmness declined from 100 to 20 N and from 60 to 25 N during ripening of european and asian pears, respectively. For both european and asian pears the relationship between fruit firmness and tensile strength of tissue soaked in isotonic solutions was sigmoidal, with the major mechanism of tissue failure being cell wall failure and cell fracture at high firmness and intercellular debonding at low firmness. In the intermediate zone, where fruit firmness and tissue tensile strength decreased simultaneously, a mixture of cell wall rupture and intercellular debonding could be observed. Tissue and cell extension at maximum force both declined similarly as fruit softened. Tensile strength of tissue from firm pears (>50 N firmness, >0.8 N tensile strength) decreased by as much as 0.6 N during incubation in solutions that were more concentrated than the cell sap (hypertonic solutions). When similar tissue slices were incubated in solutions that were less concentrated than the cell sap (hypotonic solutions), the tensile strength increased by up to 0.4 N. This is interpreted as stress-hardening of the cell wall in response to an increase in cell turgor. Tensile strength of tissue from soft pears was not affected by osmotic changes, as the mechanism of tissue failure is cell-to-cell debonding rather than cell wall failure.

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F. Roger Harker, Christopher B. Watkins, Paul L. Brookfield, Mellisa J. Miller, Suzanne Reid, Phillippa J. Jackson, Roderick L. Bieleski, and Tim Bartley

Preharvest development and postharvest disappearance of watercore in `Fuji' apples (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) from a northern (Hawke's Bay, latitude 39° south) and southern (Otago, latitude 45° south) region of New Zealand were compared. A new method for quantifying watercore was developed. A photocopy was taken of the symptoms after each fruit was cut in half through the equator, and then the area of affected flesh (photocopies black) was measured using morphometric methods and compared to the area of unaffected flesh (photocopies white). Watercore was more severe and developed earlier in the season in Otago than in Hawke's Bay. In Otago, a block-type watercore predominated, disorder symptoms initially appearing in the tissues located at the junction of two carpels, while in Hawke's Bay a radial-type of watercore predominated, initially appearing in the tissues surrounding the coreline vascular bundles. Regression analysis identified that orchard and harvest date accounted for most of the differences in watercore symptoms and that the initial appearance of low levels of watercore was the best predictor that fruit would start to develop commercially significant levels of watercore. Incorporation of background color, internal ethylene concentration, starch pattern index, and firmness only slightly improved the regression coefficient. Watercore disappeared from the flesh during storage of fruit from both regions. Fruit from early harvests had the least severe symptoms, and the highest rates of watercore disappearance during storage. In fruit with more severe symptoms at harvest, its disappearance during storage was associated with an increase in fruit volume and air space, which occurred despite continuing mass loss. We suggest that during storage, the extracellular fluid associated with watercore symptoms is absorbed into the cells, and thus drives the increase in fruit volume.