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Judith A. Abbott and David R. Massie

Firmness is a critical quality characteristic in kiwifruit [Actinidia deliciosa (A. Chev.) C.F. Liang et A.R. Ferguson] marketing. The industry seeks a nondestructive method for firmness sorting. We measured sonic vibrational responses of 149 kiwifruit over the range 0 to 2000 Hz and compared them with Magness-Taylor (MT) penetrometer values. Sonic resonant frequencies and mass were combined to calculate a sonic stiffness coefficient. Coefficients of determination (r2) for sonic stiffness coefficients versus MT slope and log of MT maximum force were 0.88 and 0.86, respectively. Sonic stiffness coefficients provided good to excellent classification of kiwifruit into two or three firmness categories based on MT maximum force values. A combination of amplitudes at several specific sonic frequencies selected by stepwise discriminant analysis or regression tree analysis also provided successful sorting algorithms. Identification of soft kiwifruit was 89% to 96% accurate and of firm kiwifruit 83% to 91%. These conclusions are based on a rather small sampling of kiwifruit of a single source and size, but the results clearly indicate the potential of a nondestructive firmness measurement based on sonic frequency vibrations.