System will allow generating basic information for the varietal replacement of blueberries in Chile

Academics from the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences design "accelerated dehydration system" to characterize the postharvest potential of new blueberry cultivars.

Since Chile was a leader in the introduction of blueberries in the southern hemisphere in the late XNUMXs, the plant material planted comes mostly from the genetic progress of that time, with limited postharvest potential compared to new cultivars. In turn, due to the high temperatures during the ripening period of the species, the fruits are even more prone to dehydration during the trip, compromising their quality in the destination markets.

This has forced the blueberry industry to consider urgent varietal replacement, point out Claudia Moggia and Gustavo A. Lobos, academics from the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and researchers from the Center for Plant Genetic Improvement and Phenomics at the University of Talca. "Despite the significant number of new, more firm varieties available through different breeding programs worldwide, quantifying the impact of the environment where the fruit grows is decisive for the characterization of a cultivar in a given location."

With this in mind, the researchers set out to generate a system that allows, quickly and reliably, to determine the most appropriate varieties and areas to maximize the quality of the fruit to the final consumer.

HortScience – American Society for Horticultural Science – Volume 58, Number 7, July 2023

"The great advantage of this methodology is that, unlike studies at the clamshell level (commercial unit), it is possible to characterize dehydration at the individual fruit level in less than seven days. The system allows evaluating the loss of water in dozens of cultivars at the same time, establishing the relative contribution of the scar and the cuticle, which are the main ways of dehydration of the berry." The initiative called "accelerated dehydration system" was a joint development of academics from the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and Javier Lorca, an academic from the School of Design of the same institution.

The new methodology has already brought them achievements, such as the publication in the journal HortScience, where they highlighted the level of novelty and the results obtained by this line of research.

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