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Stephen J. Tancred, Aldo G. Zeppa, Mark Cooper, and Joanne K. Stringer

A major objective of the apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) breeding program in Stanthorpe, Australia, is to develop early ripening, high-quality cultivars. The heritability and inheritance of ripening date was investigated. Regression of offspring on midparent harvest dates and estimation of best linear unbiased predictions for parents were used to demonstrate that apple harvest date is highly heritable. Predominantly, additive genetic components of variance are responsible for the variation. Despite the existence of some specific combining ability variance and some non-normal family distributions, the best strategy for a breeder to predict the harvest date of progeny is to calculate the mean harvest date of parents.