Affiliations: [a] Department of Horticulture, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, USA
| [b] Institute of Food Science and Engineering, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, USA
| [c] Department of Food Science, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, USA
Corresponding author: Renee Threlfall, Institute of Food Science and Engineering, University of Arkansas, 2650 North Young Avenue, Fayetteville, AR 72704, USA. Tel.: +1 479 575 4677; Fax: +1 479 575 2165; E-mail: email@example.com.
Note:  Formerly affiliated with the University of Arkansas.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Since the consumption of fresh blackberries has increased, the demand for new cultivars with extended postharvest quality that meet consumer expectations has increased. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to identify fresh-market blackberry genotypes with high postharvest potential and evaluate changes in physiochemical and sensory attributes. METHODS: Fruit quality, chemical composition and descriptive sensory attributes of five blackberry cultivars (Natchez, Osage, Ouachita, Prime-Ark® 45 and Prime-Ark® Traveler) and six advanced breeding selections from the University of Arkansas Fruit Breeding Program were evaluated at harvest and after 7 days of storage (2°C and 90% RH). Fruit quality (firmness, red drupelets, weight loss and unmarketability) and chemical composition (basic composition and phytochemicals) were evaluated, and a trained descriptive sensory panel (n = 8-9) evaluated blackberry attributes for appearance, basic tastes, feeling factors, aromatics and texture. RESULTS: The blackberries had soluble solids of 6.6–10.9% and titratable acidity of 0.5–1.5% at harvest. ‘Natchez’ had the lowest percent of unmarketable fruit (2.9%) and A-2418 had the highest (53.6%) after 7 days of postharvest storage. After 7 days of storage, ‘Natchez’ and A-2453 had low incidence of red drupelets and high uniformity of color and ‘Natchez’ and A-2491 were associated with the sensory attributes of sweetness and overall aromatic impact. The sensory panelists could not perceive differences in color, uniformity of color, glossiness, firmness or sweetness after storage, but perceived blackberries as more astringent and less sour and bitter after storage. These sensory findings correspond with the fruit quality and chemical composition data that indicated no changes for incidence of red drupelets, firmness or soluble solids of blackberries after storage. However, blackberries had increased total phenolics, flavonols, anthocyanins and ellagitannins, and decreased titratable acidity after storage. After storage, total phenolics and total ellagitannins of blackberries were positively correlated to bitter and sour basic tastes. CONCLUSION: Fruit quality and chemical composition analyses correlated to sensory attributes and may assist blackberry breeders in developing cultivars with extended postharvest storage and superior fruit attributes. ‘Natchez’, A-2453 and A-2491 showed positive fruit attributes in this study and have potential for the development of future cultivars or used as parents for crosses in blackberry breeding programs.