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Kate Evans, Lisa Brutcher, Bonnie Konishi, and Bruce Barritt

Selecting for crispness instrumentally in fruit from apple (Malus ×domestica) breeding programs is notoriously difficult. Most breeders rely on sensory assessment for this important characteristic. Following the 2009 harvest, we used a computerized penetrometer to assess firmness and texture of apple selections from the Washington State University's apple breeding program and 16 standard reference varieties. Data were compared with sensory data from the apple breeding team. In addition to the expected high correlations between the various firmness measures of the computerized penetrometer and the sensory firmness values, our data also show a significant correlation between the computerized penetrometer crispness value and the sensory crispness value, thus demonstrating the benefit from using this equipment rather than the industry standard Magness–Taylor penetrometer.

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Kate M. Evans, Lisa J. Brutcher, and Bonnie S. Konishi

Inventory control of trees and fruit samples in the Washington State University apple breeding program has been simplified by the use of bar codes. Tree labels incorporate individual bar-coded identities that can be scanned in the field when taking measurements or collecting samples. Bar codes on fruit sample labels also simplify data recording as well as improve the efficiency of the program by greatly reducing the risk of errors. The interface of bar-code identities with data organization and statistical software makes data analysis more straightforward.

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Kate M. Evans, Bruce H. Barritt, Bonnie S. Konishi, Lisa J. Brutcher, and Carolyn F. Ross

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Soon Li Teh, Lisa Brutcher, Bonnie Schonberg, and Kate Evans

Fruit texture is a major target of apple (Malus domestica) breeding programs due to its influence on consumer preference. This multitrait feature is typically rated using sensory assessment, which is subjective and prone to biases. Instrumental measurements have predominantly targeted firmness of the outer region of fruit cortex using industry standard Magness–Taylor-type penetrometers, while other metrics remain largely unused. Additionally, there have been limited reports on correlating sensory attributes with instrumental metrics on many diverse apple selections. This report is the first to correlate multiyear historical fruit texture information of instrumental metrics and sensory assessment in an apple breeding program. Through 11 years of routine fruit quality evaluation at the Washington State University apple breeding program, physical textural data of 84,552 fruit acquired from computerized penetrometers were correlated with sensory assessment. Correlations among various instrumental metrics are high (0.63 ≤ r ≤ 1.00; P < 0.0001). In correlating instrumental outputs with sensory data, there is a significant correlation (r = 0.43; P < 0.0001) between the instrumental crispness value and sensory crispness. Additionally, instrumental hardness traits are significantly correlated (0.61 ≤ r ≤ 0.69; P < 0.0001) with sensory hardness. Outputs from two versions of computerized penetrometers were tested and shown to have no statistical differences. Overall, this report demonstrates potential use of instrumental metrics as firmness and crispness estimates for selecting apples of diverse backgrounds in a breeding program. However, in testing a large number and diversity of fruit, experimenters should perform data curation and account for lower limits/thresholds of the instrument.

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Kate M. Evans, Bruce H. Barritt, Bonnie S. Konishi, Marc A. Dilley, Lisa J. Brutcher, and Cameron P. Peace

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Kate M. Evans, Bruce H. Barritt, Bonnie S. Konishi, Marc A. Dilley, Lisa J. Brutcher, and Cameron P. Peace

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Chengyan Yue, R. Karina Gallardo, James Luby, Alicia Rihn, James R. McFerson, Vicki McCracken, David Bedford, Susan Brown, Kate Evans, Cholani Weebadde, Audrey Sebolt, and Amy F. Iezzoni

Systematic studies of the relative importance of apple traits for U.S. apple producers to inform U.S. apple breeding programs have been lacking. To fill this gap, a series of audience surveys with instant feedback at five apple producer meetings across the United States was conducted. The traits included in this study were fruit crispness, juiciness, firmness, flavor, soluble solids concentration, sugar–acid balance, shelf life at retail, freedom from storage disorders, host plant disease resistance, and other fruit and tree traits provided by the producer. Producers rated fruit flavor and crispness as the most important traits for a successful apple cultivar. The relative importance assigned to traits was associated with growing location and producers’ years of experience in the decision-making process of managing apple orchards. This study contributes directly to a larger effort that provides breeding programs with systematic knowledge of trait preferences of supply chain members, including producers, and should result in a more targeted approach to developing and commercializing new apple cultivars.