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Carol A. Miles, Jacqueline King, Travis Robert Alexander and Edward Scheenstra

Little information exists on the bloom and fruit characteristics of cider apple (Malus ×domestica) cultivars grown in the United States for the juice and alcoholic beverage markets. In this study, a total of 17 cider apple cultivars, including 4 American, 9 English, and 4 French, plus 1 Danish standard dessert apple cultivar (Red Gravenstein, Worthen strain) commonly used for cider, all grown in northwest Washington, were evaluated from 2000 to 2015 for commercially relevant traits. Trees were rated each year and the cultivars were categorized accordingly by relative bloom time, bloom habit, and productivity. The mean full bloom (FB) date of the 18 apple cultivars evaluated ranged from 25 Apr. to 25 May, with 6 cultivars categorized as early season bloomers, 9 as midseason, and 3 as late season. The mean bloom density (BD) rating (measured on a scale of 1–5) for all cultivars was (mean ± sd) 3.8 ± 0.6 (moderate bloom), with the bloom habit of 1 cultivar categorized as biennial, 11 as consistent, and 6 as strongly consistent. The mean productivity rating (measured on a scale of 1–5) for all cultivars was 2.9 ± 0.6 (light fruiting), with the productivity of 4 cultivars categorized as biennial, 10 as consistent, and 4 as strongly consistent. The mean fruit diameter of the 18 apple cultivars was 2.7 ± 0.4 inches (medium sized), with the fruit size of 2 cultivars categorized as small-fruited, 15 as medium-fruited, and 1 as large-fruited. For the 18 cultivars, the mean tannin and titratable acidity (TA) were 0.20% ± 0.14% and 0.54% ± 0.28%, respectively, and using the English cider apple classification system of juice type, 4 of the cultivars were classified as bittersweet, 1 as bittersharp, 3 as sweet, and 10 as sharp. Three of the cultivars had tannin content lower than what was historically recorded at the Long Ashton Research Station (LARS) in Bristol, England, for those same cultivars. The mean specific gravity (SG) of the 18 cultivars was 1.052 ± 0.007, the average predicted alcohol by volume (ABV) was 6.9% ± 0.9%, and the mean pH was 3.68 ± 0.39. Classification of three cultivars in northwest Washington, based on juice characteristics, differed from their historical classification in England, likely because of differences in climate and management. Only cultivars Golden Russet (sharp), Grimes Golden (sharp), and Yarlington Mill (sweet, but borderline bittersweet) were strongly consistent in productivity, but none produced high levels of tannin, whereas only cultivars Bramtot (bittersweet), Chisel Jersey (bittersweet), and Breakwell Seedling (bittersharp) were consistent in productivity and produced high levels of tannin.

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Travis Robert Alexander, Jaqueline King, Edward Scheenstra and Carol A. Miles

In this 2-year study, ‘Brown Snout’ specialty cider apples (Malus ×domestica) that had been hand harvested or machine harvested with an over-the-row shake-and-catch small fruit harvester were ambient stored (56 °F mean temperature) for 0, 2, and 4 weeks to evaluate yield, fruit damage, yield loss, and juice quality characteristics. The average yield (pounds per acre) of fruit picked and retained by the mechanical harvester was 74% that of the hand-harvest yield and 81% that of the hand-harvest yield when fruit that fell out of the harvester was included in the machine-harvest yield. Percent fruit bruised and cut were greater for machine harvest (97.5% and 25.5%, respectively) than for hand harvest (47% and 0.5%, respectively), on average for 2014 and 2015. Yield loss to rot was greater for machine harvest than for hand harvest, and increased for both methods over time; percent rot doubled from 2 to 4 weeks storage for machine harvest (22% to 41%), and while negligible, tripled from 2 to 4 weeks storage for hand harvest (0.7% to 2.1%). Juice quality characteristics did not differ due to harvest method, but did differ due to year and storage time. Soluble solids concentration [SSC (%)] and specific gravity (SG) did not change due to storage in 2014, but in 2015, SSC and SG were greater on average for 2 and 4 weeks storage duration (15% and 1.062, respectively) than at harvest (13.31% and 1.056, respectively). Titratable acidity (grams per liter malic acid) decreased in 2014 from 2.98 g·L−1 at harvest to 2.70 g·L−1 on average for 2 and 4 weeks storage duration, but did not differ due to storage in 2015. Tannin [tannic acid equivalent (%)] was unchanged in 2014 from harvest to 4 weeks storage, but increased in 2015 from 0.16% at harvest to 0.19% by 4 weeks storage. These results indicate that harvest efficiency could be improved with some engineering modifications of the over-the-row mechanical harvester and training modifications for the trees. A comparison of the aromatic and phenolic contents of mechanically harvested and hand-harvested ‘Brown Snout’ would be a valuable next step in evaluating shake-and-catch mechanical harvest technology for cider apple production.

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Travis Robert Alexander, Jacqueline King, Andrew Zimmerman and Carol A. Miles

In this study, four cider apple (Malus ×domestica) cultivars, Brown Snout, Dabinett, Kingston Black, and Yarlington Mill, were collected from four orchards, two in northwest Washington and two in central Washington, to compare juice quality characteristics. Northwest Washington has a cool, humid summer climate (16.0 °C on average during this study) and is the origin of the state’s cider apple industry, while central Washington has a hot, dry summer climate (22.1 °C on average during this study) and is the center of the state’s dessert apple industry. Each year from 2012 to 2015, fruit of the four cultivars were harvested and stored at each orchard until they were collected. Fruit were pressed and the juice analyzed for five quality characteristics important to cider making: soluble solids concentration [SSC (%)], specific gravity (SG), pH, titratable acidity [TA, malic acid equivalent (g·L−1)], and tannin [tannic acid equivalent (%)]. Harvest dates and climate data were recorded annually for each orchard location. There were no significant differences in any of the juice quality characteristics due to region and no significant interaction of region, cultivar, and/or year. Results did show, as expected, a significant difference in all five juice characteristics due to cultivar. ‘Brown Snout’, ‘Dabinett’, and ‘Kingston Black’ were higher in SSC and SG than ‘Yarlington Mill’; ‘Dabinett’ had the highest pH and lowest TA while ‘Kingston Black’ had the lowest pH and highest TA; and tannin was highest in ‘Yarlington Mill’ and lowest in ‘Kingston Black’. There was also a difference in SG and tannin due to year; SG was lowest in 2013 while tannin was highest in 2012. The difference in SG from year to year may be a result of variable year-to-year storage time at each orchard before collection of fruit. The difference in tannin from year to year was likely due to climatic variation over the four years of this study. On average, growing degree days (GDD) increased 10% and chilling hours (CH) decreased 10% from 2012 to 2015 in both regions. Classification of the four cultivars included in this study differed from historical records at the Long Ashton Research Station (LARS) in England; in the current study, the four cultivars exhibited tannin levels below 0.20% and would not be classified as bitter, unlike their historical classification at LARS. Results from this study indicate that variations in juice quality characteristics occur between cultivars as expected and occur within a cultivar from year-to-year, but for the four cultivars included in this study variations did not occur due to production region in Washington.

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Travis Robert Alexander, Carolyn F. Ross, Emily A. Walsh and Carol A. Miles

Machine harvest of ‘Brown Snout’ specialty cider apple (Malus ×domestica) has been shown to provide yield and juice quality characteristics similar to that of hand harvest. In this 2-year study, the sensory perception (color, aroma, flavor, mouthfeel, taste, and aftertaste) of ciders produced from machine-harvested and hand-harvested fruit that were ambient stored (56 °F) 0–4 weeks postharvest were compared using a trained panel and electronic tongue (e-tongue). For nearly all sensory attributes evaluated, the trained panelists scored the 2014 machine-harvested samples higher than the 2014 hand-harvested samples. Some of the key sensory differences included a darker color, a more astringent and heated mouthfeel, and a more sour taste of the machine-harvested samples than the hand-harvested samples. Trained panelists perceived no differences due to the harvest method among the 2015 samples for any of the sensory attributes evaluated. The e-tongue demonstrated good discrimination (index value = 95) of 2014 samples, but poor discrimination (index value = −0.5) of 2015 samples, mirroring the year-to-year variation experienced by the trained panelists. Overall, the e-tongue demonstrated a response to metallic and sour that was more associated with the machine-harvested samples and a response to sweet and umami that was more associated with the hand-harvested samples. These results demonstrate that cider made from machine-harvested fruit can have a different sensory profile than cider made from hand-harvested fruit. A consumer tasting panel should be conducted next to provide an indication of market response to the differing sensory profiles, qualifying the impact of harvest method. Results also indicate that ambient storage (56 °F) of fruit up to 4 weeks may not impact cider sensory attributes; however, cider apple growers should avoid ambient storage of machine-harvested fruit given the significant yield losses demonstrated in previous studies. Variation in cider quality due to year of harvest was most likely a result of differences in the hand-harvest technique between the 2 years, specifically more fruit bruising in 2014 than in 2015, demonstrating the importance of harvesting fully mature fruit with a standard protocol so as to supply a consistent raw material to cider producers. The e-tongue produced variable results compared with trained panelists and more development is needed before it can be incorporated into cider sensory evaluation protocol.

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Carol A. Miles, Thomas S. Collins, Yao Mu and Travis Robert Alexander

Two studies were performed in Mount Vernon, WA, to identify bulb fennel (Foeniculum ×vulgare) cultivars and seeding practices best suited for the region. The first study evaluated 13 cultivars (Bronze, Finale, Florence, Genesi, Idillio, Orazio, Orion, Perfection, Preludio, Solaris, Tauro, Tenace, and Zefa Fino) over the course of 2 years; during the second year, the additional main factor of the seeding date was included. The second study evaluated three bulb fennel cultivars (Finale, Tauro, and Zefa Fino), four seeding dates (17 May, 31 May, 14 June, and 28 June 2018), and two planting methods (direct and transplant). Results of the two studies demonstrated that ‘Finale’, ‘Orazio’, ‘Preludio’, ‘Solaris’, and ‘Tenace’ had the greatest bulb production rate and yield and good bulb quality that met marketability standards. ‘Genesi’, ‘Orion’, and ‘Perfection’ had good bulb production during only 1 of the 2 years, whereas ‘Bronze’, ‘Florence’, ‘Idillio’, and ‘Zefa Fino’ had very low bulb productivity both years due to bolting. ‘Perfection’ and ‘Tauro’ exhibited internal cracking both years (incidence rates of 9.5% and 12.8%, respectively). The first harvest was 94 to 112 days after seeding during the first study. Direct seeded bulb fennel required 32 fewer days to harvest than transplanted bulb fennel during the second study. The average bulb circumference was 28.1 cm, with little variation between studies. Bulb tenderness for both studies was 617 g-force, on average, and the soluble solids concentration of bulbs in both studies was 4.9%. Ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry based on 38 tentatively identified compounds demonstrated no difference in the phenolic content of bulb fennel due to the cultivar. In conclusion, bulb fennel cultivars well-suited for production in northwest Washington were identified and direct seeding was demonstrated to be a better planting method than transplanting.