A comparison of fruit quality and consumer preferences among three cold-climate strawberry production systems
In consumer-harvested marketing, crop management practices and production systems directly affect the experience of the customer. An experiment was designed to compare overall consumer preference and fruit quality characteristics among three perennial cold-climate strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) production systems: conventional matted row (CMR), advanced matted row (AMR), and cold-climate plasticulture (CCP). Replicate plots of each system were maintained for two harvest seasons. Volunteers harvested subplots in each system and completed a survey to evaluate pick-your-own consumer preferences. The CCP system was preferred by a majority of consumers in the first year, whereas the AMR system was rated highest in the second year. Preferences were positively correlated with ease of harvest and fruit appearance and negatively correlated with the percentage of fruit unfit for harvest. Fruit quality measurements made on marketable fruit in the second harvest season indicated that there were no treatment differences in titratable acidity or soluble solids concentration, but significantly lower fruit firmness in the CCP treatment compared with CMR and AMR.
Stevens*, M.D., J.D. Lea-Cox, B.L. Black, and J.A. Abbott. 2007. A comparison of fruit quality and consumer preferences among three cold-climate strawberry production systems. HortTechnology 17(4): 586-591.