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I. Tayfun Agar, William V. Biasi and Elizabeth J. Mitcham

Ripening behavior of `Bartlett' pears (Pyrus communis L.), with or without ethylene (C2H4) treatment, was assessed at harvest, and after 2, 4, 6 and 12 weeks of cold storage at –1 °C. Fruit exhibited increasing rates of C2H4 production and consequently faster ripening rates with increased length of cold storage. Ripening characteristics were influenced by storage duration, but to different degrees. The data indicate that the threshold C2H4 concentration for softening may be lower than that for color change from green to yellow. Ethylene treatment for 24 h at harvest resulted in a rate of ripening equivalent to that following cold storage for 2 to 4 weeks, depending on the orchard location. Storage for 12 weeks significantly increased C2H4 production upon transfer to ambient temperature, indicating that fruit were reaching the end of their storage life. `Bartlett' pears may ripen to a firmness of 14 N (ready to eat) at 20 °C within 2.5 to 7 days depending upon the duration of prior cold storage.

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Murray Clayton, William V. Biasi, I. Tayfun Agar, Stephen M. Southwick and Elizabeth J. Mitcham

During three consecutive years, 'Bing' sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.) trees were treated during dormancy with the dormancy-manipulating compounds, CH2N2 or CaNH4NO3, or were treated with the plant growth regulator GA3 at straw color development. Fruit of a range of maturities, based on skin color, were evaluated for quality following harvest and simulated transit and market storage conditions. At comparable maturities, CH2N2 and GA3 fruit were of similar firmness and were consistently firmer than CaNH4NO3-treated and untreated fruit across years, storage regimes, and maturities. CaNH4NO3 and untreated fruit were of similar firmness. CH2N2-treated cherries were larger than fruit of other treatments, but only marginally with respect to variation in fruit size between years. Contraction of fruit diameter occurred after 3 days storage, but ceased thereafter up to 11 days storage. Soluble solids and titratable acidity varied between years, storage regimes, and maturities. Strong interactions of treatment and year concealed possible treatment effects on these indices. GA3 fruit contained fewer surface pits in one year while CH2N2 fruit suffered less shrivel in another. The earlier harvest date for CH2N2 fruit often avoided higher field temperatures and the resulting promotion of postharvest shrivel. Pitting and shrivel were more prevalent in stored fruit. Brown stem discoloration developed in storage, occurring most frequently in mature fruit, although methyl bromide-fumigated fruit were particularly susceptible. This disorder was more common in GA3 fruit during years of high incidence. Chemical names used: gibberellic acid (GA3); calcium ammonium nitrate (CaNH4NO3); hydrogen cyanamide (CH2N2).

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Murray Clayton, William V. Biasi, I. Tayfun Agar, Stephen M. Southwick and Elizabeth J. Mitcham

`Bing' sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.) trees were treated with hydrogen cyanamide (CH2N2) or calcium ammonium nitrate (CaNH4NO3) during dormancy, or gibberellic acid (GA3) 26 days before harvest during three consecutive years. Fruit were evaluated at harvest for sensory taste quality using twenty trained panelists sampling for firmness, sweetness, tartness, and cherry flavor. Nondestructive instrumental firmness preceded destructive sensory firmness on the same untreated and GA3-treated cherries in one year when used as a supplementary evaluation. Sensory firmness was consistently higher in GA3 fruit and to a lesser extent in CH2N2 fruit than in CaNH4NO3 and untreated fruit. Instrumental firmness of GA3 fruit did not increase significantly compared with untreated fruit yet instrumental firmness of each treatment correlated relatively well with perceived sensory firmness. Sensory sweetness and cherry flavor scored very similarly, yet both attributes simultaneously varied between treatments across the years. Perceived sensory tartness of treated fruit was variable among years; yet, on average, was rated among treated and untreated fruit as similar. Under the assumption that elevated sensory firmness, sweetness, and cherry flavor intensity reflects improved sweet cherry quality, GA3 fruit were rated of higher quality than untreated fruit given their increased firmness and similar or occasionally elevated sweetness and cherry flavor intensity. CH2N2 fruit maintained quality similar to that of untreated fruit, despite often having marginally higher firmness, due to similar or reduced ratings for sweetness and cherry flavor intensity. Notwithstanding similar firmness between CaNH4NO3 and untreated cherries, sensory quality of CaNH4NO3-treated cherries was reduced due to their often-diminished levels of perceived sweetness and cherry flavor.