Control of Pre-harvest and Postharvest Factors to Improve Fruit Quality of Apricot
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Apricots must be of high quality for consumers to have an enjoyable eating experience and thus increase demand. Unfortunately, apricot fruit quality has been highly variable. As a result, consumers have often been dissatisfied because fruit were either immature, hard and had no flavour, or else they were over-soft and mealy. It has been suggested that harvest maturity is the most important factor affecting the quality of many fruits. However, many other factors have been shown to affect apricot fruit quality. There are gaps in understanding on how some of these factors affect apricot fruit quality and no attempts have been made to develop integrated strategies for its control. The aim of this study, therefore, was to identify how management of several major factors could improve apricot fruit quality. The effects of crop load and harvest maturity on fruit soluble solids concentration (SSC) and flesh firmness were determined and their effects on consumer preferences were examined. Reducing crop load resulted in higher fruit SSC in one of two years, whereas fruit harvested at a more mature stage had higher SSC in both years. Consumers preferred fruit that had higher SSC only when they were at an eating-firmness of approximately 10 to 25 N. When fruit were over-soft, i.e. less than 10 N, differences in SSC were not significant. In general, consumers preferred fruit that were grown on trees thinned to approximately 10 to 20% less than typical commercial crop loads and were harvested at a more mature stage.
School of Natural Sciences
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The journal article is on embargo until 11 June 2018.