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- Author or Editor: Steven J. McKay x
The commercially successful apple (Malus pumila Mill.) cultivar Honeycrisp is known for its high degrees of crispness and juiciness. This cultivar has been incorporated into numerous breeding programs in an effort to duplicate its desirable texture traits in conjunction with such other traits as reduced postharvest disorders, disease resistance, and improved tree vigor. This study characterizes variability and estimates heritability for several apple fruit texture traits within a large breeding population over several years. Five full-sib families, all sharing ‘Honeycrisp’ as a common parent, were assayed with respect to crispness, firmness, and juiciness using sensory evaluation panels and total work required to fracture tissue using instrumental methods. The incomplete block design of the sensory panels, coupled with best linear unbiased prediction, facilitated the evaluation of a large number of genotypes with small numbers of fruit per genotype while accounting for individual sensory panelist effects. Broad-sense heritability estimates exceeded 0.70 for all four traits. Principal component analysis, applied to the phenotypic data, characterized ‘Honeycrisp’ as having average crispness and low firmness (53rd percentile relative to its offspring) but also as being a relatively extreme example of high juiciness and low work to fracture (first percentile). The improved characterization of desired fruit texture phenotypes and the high levels of broad-sense heritability provide valuable tools for the further development of new, high-quality apple cultivars.