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  • Author or Editor: Kareen Stanich x
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Fruit firmness is among the most important characteristics for the quality of sweet cherries. However, little has been published on its underlying frequency distribution. This research was undertaken to examine the firmness distributions (n = 48) from six cultivars [Sandra Rose, Summit, Lapins, Skeena, Sumtare (Sweetheart™), and 13S2009 (Staccato™)], two field treatments [with or without gibberellic acid (GA)], two storage times (0 and 7 days), and two growing seasons (2013 and 2014). Fruit was sampled (n = 300) at optimal maturity and firmness was evaluated using the FirmTech2 Fruit Firmness Tester. Firmness distributions were examined using descriptive statistics: mean, median, standard deviation (sd), minimum, maximum, range, skewness, and excess kurtosis. Nonnormality was assessed using skewness and kurtosis test statistics. Exponential models were fitted to the ascending and descending portions of the distributions and the proportion of “too soft” (percentage < 2.56 N·mm−1) and “too hard” (percentage > 4.71 N·mm−1) fruit was determined. A relatively high proportion of distributions were nonnormal (16/24 to 18/24), either skewed, peaked, or both. While most skewed distributions were skewed negatively, with a higher proportion of softer fruit, the distributions for ‘Sandra Rose’ were skewed positively, with a higher proportion of firmer fruit. Principal component analysis (PCA) showed seasonal, cultivar, treatment, and storage effects among three subsets of cultivars with differing characteristic firmness. The softer early-harvest cultivars (Sandra Rose and Summit) had a higher proportion of “too soft” fruit. GA and storage treatments increased mean firmness and reduced the proportion of “too soft” fruit. The firmer late-harvest cultivars (Skeena, Sumtare, and 13S2009) had a small proportion of “too hard” fruit (0% to 19.3%). The work gained insight into the nature of the firmness distributions for sweet cherries and the type of statistics that are most appropriate for analyzing the data.

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The splitting of sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.) just before harvest can be a considerable problem in the Okanagan Valley (BC, Canada). In an attempt to minimize economic losses, growers apply a commercial cherry cuticle supplement in anticipation of a rainfall event. However, it is unknown if this product affects flavor, texture (crispness, firmness, and juiciness), or visual characteristics (stem browning, pitting, and pebbling) of sweet cherry. Therefore, this research was undertaken to evaluate the effects of a cherry cuticle supplement on the sensory, physicochemical, and visual characteristics of ‘Skeena’ sweet cherry. Firmness measurements were assessed with a fruit-firmness tester, whereas sensory determinations were assessed at first bite (whole-cherry crispness) and after multiple chews (flesh firmness) by a panel of 14 trained panelists. Fruit treated with the cherry cuticle supplement had lower instrumental firmness compared with the control, which was most pronounced after 28 days, with a reduction of 0.53 N. Treated fruit also had significantly lower sensory firmness and higher juiciness than the control fruit. Fruit treated with the cherry cuticle supplement had reduced water loss, less pitting, and lower stem-pull force, resulting in higher frequency of detachment of the stems. Further research would be necessary to evaluate the effects with other cultivars, and in years with rainfall events, as well as when hydrocooling is used.

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