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  • Author or Editor: Pete Callow x
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We tested the impact of storage atmospheres in which the CO2 and O2 percentages sum to 21% on highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) fruit condition and quality. The CO2 and O2 combinations, in percent composition, were 19%/2%, 18%/3%, 16.5%/4.5%, 15%/6%, 13.5%/7.5%, 12%/9%, 6%/15%, and 0%/21% for CO2/O2, respectively. Nine blueberry cultivars were evaluated (Duke, Toro, Brigitta, Ozarkblue, Nelson, Liberty, Elliott, Legacy, and Jersey) after 8 weeks of controlled atmosphere (CA) storage at 0 °C. Surface mold, berry decay, skin reddening (associated with fruit pulp browning), fruit firmness, pulp discoloration, and the content of ethanol and acetaldehyde were assessed. Fruit firmness, skin reddening, and decay declined and the proportion of fruit with severe internal discoloration tended to increase as CO2 concentrations increased. Ethanol and acetaldehyde accumulation was minimal, indicating fermentation was not induced by the atmospheric conditions applied. Cultivar effects were far more pronounced than atmosphere effects. Some cultivars such as Duke, Toro, Brigitta, Liberty, and Legacy appear to be well suited to extended CA storage, whereas other cultivars such as Elliott stored moderately well, and Ozarkblue, Nelson, and Jersey stored poorly. The data indicate that responses to high levels of CO2, while O2 is maintained at its maximum level practicable, can, in a cultivar-dependent manner, include significant negative effects on quality while achieving the desired suppression of decay.

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Controlled-atmosphere storage had little effect on the quality of fruit of eight cultivars held under 2 kPa oxygen (O2) and 8 kPa carbon dioxide (CO2) versus ambient air. ‘Elliott’ fruit harvested from bushes with only 30% ripe fruit had significantly better storage quality than fruit picked later; however, there was no significant difference in the storage life of fruit that was stored fully blue versus partially green. Fruit from the first harvest of four cultivars had superior storage quality to that of the second. In one comparison of the long-term storability of nine cultivars, ‘Bluegold’, ‘Brigitta’, and ‘Legacy’ performed the best, storing for 4 to 7 weeks. In another postharvest trial of 17 cultivars, ‘Brigitta’ stored the longest (8 weeks) followed by ‘Aurora’ and ‘Draper’ (7 weeks). The most resistant genotypes to Alternaria spp. were ‘Brigitta’, ‘Aurora’, ‘Elliott’, and ‘Draper’, whereas the most resistant genotypes to Colletotrichum spp. were ‘Elliott’, ‘Brigitta’, ‘Toro’, ‘Draper’, and ‘Bluejay’.

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The germplasm base of strawberries is restricted. The major cultivated strawberry species, Fragaria ×ananassa, originated ≈250 years ago when South American F. chiloensis subsp. chiloensis forma chiloensis and North American F. virginiana subsp. virginiana accidentally hybridized in European gardens. Since that time, only a handful of native clones have been used by breeders. As a novel way to expand the germplasm base of the strawberry, we preselected native clones of F. virginiana and F. chiloensis for a wide range of horticulturally important characteristics and then reconstructed F. ×ananassa by crossing superior clones of each. Before crossing between species, we undertook one round of selection within species to maximize diversity. Reconstruction appeared to be an effective method of strawberry improvement, because superior families and individuals were identified that had outstanding vigor, high productivity, seed set, fruit color, and firmness. None of the fruit were of commercial size, but one reconstruction family, FVC 11 [(F. virginiana Frederick 9 × LH 50-4) × (F. chiloensis Scotts Creek × 2 MAR 1A)], had individuals with fruit weights of almost 20 g.

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