Development of colour and firmness in strawberry crops is UV light sensitive, but colour is not a good predictor of several quality parameters



BACKGROUND: Strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa Duchesne var. Elsanta) plants were grown in polytunnels covered with three polythene films that transmitted varying levels of ultraviolet (UV) light. Fruit were harvested under near-commercial conditions and quality and yield were measured. During ripening, changes in the colour parameters of individual fruit were monitored, and the accuracy of using surface colour to predict other quality parameters was determined by analysing the correlation between colour and quality parameters within UV treatments.

RESULTS: Higher exposure to UV during growth resulted in the fruit becoming darker at harvest and developing surface colour more quickly; fruit were also firmer at harvest, but shelf life was not consistently affected by the UV regime. Surface colour measurements were poorly correlated to firmness, shelf life or total phenolics, anthocyanins and ellagic acid contents.

CONCLUSION: Although surface colour of strawberry fruits was affected by the UV regime during growth, and this parameter is an important factor in consumer perception, we concluded that the surface colour at the time of harvest was, contrary to consumer expectations, a poor indicator of firmness, potential shelf life or anthocyanin content. Copyright © 2011 Society of Chemical Industry