Crop load and harvest maturity effects on consumer preferences for apricots
BACKGROUND: Improving apricot fruit quality delivered to consumers is key to ensuring a successful apricot industry. Previous studies have focused on effects of either soluble solids content (SSC) or fruit firmness on consumer preferences, and results have been equivocal. This study evaluated the effects of crop load and harvestmaturity how they affected on fruit SSC and firmness, and on subsequent consumer preferences. RESULTS: SSC of apricotswas an important factor onlywhen fruitwere firmer than 15Nand notimmature.When fruitwere softer than 15 N, SSC had little influence on consumer liking. In general, consumers preferred fruit thatwere grown on trees thinned to approximately 10-20%less than typical commercial crop loads andwere harvested in a moremature condition. Consumers also preferred fruit that had a higher sugar/acid ratio or BrimA value, which is the ²ix - k נtitratable acidity, where k is a constant that varies between species and cultivars depending on the specific acids and sugars present. High apricot flavour and juiciness were associated with greater sweetness. CONCLUSION: Management practices that increase fruit SSC and sugar/acid ratio, such as reducing crop load, will improve consumer satisfaction as long as fruit are harvested at an adequate maturity stage and are maintained in storage so that they do not soften too quickly.
Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Horticultural Production not elsewhere classified