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Ruchen Zhou, Chengyan Yue, Shuoli Zhao, R. Karina Gallardo, Vicki McCracken, James J. Luby, and James R. McFerson

Consumer preferences for attributes of fresh peach fruit in the United States are largely unknown on a national basis. We used a choice experiment to explore market segmentation based on consumer heterogeneous preference for fruit attributes including external color, blemish, firmness, sweetness, flavor, and price. We collected the data using an online survey with 800 U.S. consumers. Using a latent class logit model, we identified three segments of consumers differing by different sets of preferred quality attributes: experience attribute-oriented consumers, who valued fruit quality (48.8% of the sample); search attribute-oriented consumers, who valued fruit appearance (33.7% of the sample); and balanced consumers, who considered search attributes and experience attributes but who valued each in a balanced way (17.5% of the sample). Each group demonstrated differentiated demographics and purchasing habits. The results have important marketing implications for peach breeders and suppliers.

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James J. Luby, Emily E. Hoover, David S. Bedford, Shirley T. Munson, Wesley H. Gray, David K. Wildung, and Cecil Stushnoff

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Seth D. Wannemuehler, James J. Luby, Chengyan Yue, David S. Bedford, R. Karina Gallardo, and Vicki A. McCracken

Incorporating DNA-informed breeding techniques can improve selection efficiency for desired traits as compared with conventional breeding methods that do not use DNA-informed techniques. Incorporation of DNA technologies requires additional costs associated with reagents, equipment, and labor. To elucidate the cost-effectiveness of DNA-informed breeding in perennial crops with multiple years per generation, we conducted a cost–benefit analysis examining incorporation of marker-assisted selection (MAS), a type of DNA-informed breeding, applied to an apple breeding program. Annual operational costs for a midwest apple breeding program were used to develop a simulation with inputs including itemized costs and per unit costs for procedures at each breeding program stage. Simulations compared costs of MAS breeding techniques to conventional breeding methods to identify the break-even point (BEP) where cost-savings associated with MAS equals the accrued additional costs. Additional sensitivity analyses were conducted to examine changes in laboratory costs, seedling maintenance costs, and seedling evaluation costs. We found the BEP for this program occurs when MAS results in a removal rate of 13.18%, and changes to other costs (i.e., maintenance costs) result in a smaller percent decrease to the overall program budget. Our findings are useful to perennial crop breeding programs in which managers are considering incorporating DNA-informed breeding techniques.

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Chengyan Yue, R. Karina Gallardo, James J. Luby, Alicia L. Rihn, James R. McFerson, Vicki McCracken, Nnadozie Oraguzie, Cholani Weebadde, Audrey Sebolt, and Amy Iezzoni

Developing new cherry cultivars requires breeders to be aware of existing and emerging needs throughout the supply chain, from producer to consumer. Because breeding programs in perennial crop plants like sweet and tart cherries require both extended time and extensive resources, understanding and targeting priority traits is critical to improve the efficiency of breeding programs. This study investigated the relative importance of fruit and tree traits to sweet and tart cherry producers using ordered probit models. Tart cherry producers considered productivity and fruit firmness to be the most important traits, whereas sweet cherry producers regarded fruit size, fruit flavor, fruit firmness, freedom from pitting, and powdery mildew resistance as important traits. The location of producers’ orchards and their demographic backgrounds influenced their perceptions of the importance of traits. Our findings provide a quantitative basis to reinforce existing priorities of breeding programs or suggest new targets.

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Cindy B.S. Tong, David S. Bedford, James J. Luby, Faye M. Propsom, Randolph M. Beaudry, James P. Mattheis, Christopher B. Watkins, and Sarah A. Weis

The effects of growing and storage locations and storage temperature on soft scald incidence of `Honeycrisp' apples were examined. In 1999 and 2000, fruits were produced at five different locations, harvested at two different times, and stored at two or five different storage locations. In 1999, fruits were stored at 0 or 2 °C. Soft scald was only observed in fruits from one growing location and primarily at 0 °C. More soft scald was observed from the second harvest than from the first. Scalded fruits were preclimacteric as determined by ethylene production rate, whereas fruits from the other locations were postclimacteric. In 2000, fruits from four of the growing locations developed soft scald, and soft scald incidence was not related to ethylene production rate. Scalded fruits had higher concentrations of phosphorus, boron, and magnesium, and lower concentrations of manganese than unaffected fruit. Development of soft scald was not related to fruit ethylene production rates, was dependent on growing location, increased with later harvest, and may be related to fruit elemental content.

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Cari A. Schmitz, Matthew D. Clark, James J. Luby, James M. Bradeen, Yingzhu Guan, Katherine Evans, Benjamin Orcheski, Susan Brown, Sujeet Verma, and Cameron Peace

Establishing marker-locus-trait associations to enable marker-assisted breeding depends on having an extensive, reliable database for phenotypic traits of interest in relevant germplasm. A reference germplasm set of 467 apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) cultivars, selections, and seedlings (referred to as individuals) was identified as part of the USDA-Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) project, RosBREED. The germplasm set provides efficient allelic representation of current parents in RosBREED demonstration apple breeding programs at Cornell University, Washington State University, and the University of Minnesota. Phenotyping at the three locations was conducted according to standardized protocols, focusing on fruit traits evaluated at harvest and after 10 and 20 weeks of refrigerated storage. Phenotypic data were collected for the sensory texture traits of firmness, crispness, and juiciness as well as for instrumental texture measures. In 2010 and 2011, fruit from 216 and 330 individuals, respectively, were harvested and a total of 369 individuals were evaluated over the two years. Correlations between sensory and instrumental texture measures were high in some instances. Moderate year-to-year repeatability of trait values was observed. Because each location had a largely unique set of individuals, as well as differing environmental conditions, means, ranges, and phenotypic variances differed greatly among locations for some traits. Loss of firmness and crispness during storage was more readily detected instrumentally than by the sensory evaluation.

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Chengyan Yue, R. Karina Gallardo, James J. Luby, Alicia L. Rihn, James R. McFerson, Vicki McCracken, Tom Gradziel, Ksenija Gasic, Gregory L. Reighard, John Clark, and Amy Iezzoni

We conducted audience surveys at three major peach producer meetings across the United States. We found that the relative importance assigned to fruit quality and tree traits by producers varied across producers’ end markets. Fresh peach producers indicated fruit flavor and size were the most important fruit quality traits, whereas processed peach producers viewed fruit size, fruit firmness, and absence of split pits as being the most important traits for a successful peach cultivar. These results have potential to ensure that peach breeding programs are consonant with fresh and processed peach producers’ needs for fruit and tree traits.

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Stan C. Hokanson, James R. McFerson, Philip L. Forsline, Warren F. Lamboy, James J. Luby, Aimak D. Djangaliev, and Herb S. Aldwinckle

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Cindy B.S. Tong, Hsueh-Yuan Chang, James J. Luby, David Bedford, Benham E.L. Lockhart, Roy G. Kiambi, and Dimitre Mollov

MN55 is an apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) cultivar recently released by the University of Minnesota apple breeding program, with fruit marketed in the U.S. as Rave®. When stored for 4 months at 0 to 4 °C, MN55 fruit can develop several storage disorders, including skin dimpling. Skin dimpling incidence was greater for fruit harvested 1 week later than those harvested earlier. Dimpling was not alleviated by prestorage treatments of 1-methylcyclopropene or diphenylamine or by holding fruit at room temperature for 1 day before long-term cold storage. However, dimpling incidence was very low when fruit were stored at 6 to 7 °C. Because viruses have been implicated in other fruit dimpling disorders, the presence of viruses in MN55 leaves and fruit was studied. Apple stem pitting virus (ASPV) was detected by microscopy, reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) methodology, and high throughput sequencing (HTS) in peel of fruit from MN55 trees that exhibited skin dimpling after 4 months of storage at 0 to 1 °C. ASPV was also detected in supermarket-purchased fruit of other cultivars with noticeable skin dimpling. Although ASPV was not conclusively demonstrated to cause skin dimpling in our work, its prevalence indicates that further investigations are warranted to determine the relationship between viruses and skin deformities in stored apples.

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Chad E. Finn and John R. Clark