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The development of more accurate grading methods and optimized postharvest practices will result in a more uniform and higher quality product for all growers adopting the new method. This is expected to result in higher prices and increased profitability for all industry segments, especially in the critical export market, which demands premium quality fruit.According to the Northwest Horticultural Council, 28.2% of Pacific Northwest cherry production was exported in 2020 but accounted for 31.6% of the dollar value. Optimizing fruit quality throughout the sorting/packing/retail supply chain is of critical importance to the Pacific Northwest sweet cherry industry because of the limited shelf-life of sweet cherry, and the role that consumer satisfaction plays on repeat purchases of fruit. Fruit firmness is a key quality attribute that contributes significantly to consumer acceptance and repeated purchases of this product.Fruit firmness is estimated currently by compression, which does not consistently correlate with perceived texture in some cultivars and parts of the supply chain. Non-destructive optical techniques, such as those newly developed using hyperspectral imaging, gives us the opportunity to study texture components in different cultivars and cold chain scenarios, both, factors that affect fruit texture. Different genotypes and storage conditions will ensure fruit firmness/texture variability, important for model development, which will be, potentially, a better indicator of texture for the industry than the current compression method used to determine fruit firmness. In addition, current WSU seedlings from the breeding program have interesting and contrasting textural characteristics that will allow us to study fruit texture in-depth, using non-destructive optical models previously mentioned. Successful models could be used as a rapid, more accurate phenotyping tool for breeding programs in WA and other cherry-growing areas. Finally, the tissue structure and cell wall component analyses are expected to identify important traits to incorporate in future genotype selection strategies for sweet cherry cultivars with improved texture and storability.Therefore, our objectives are:Determine the relationships between fruit firmness, texture, and eating experience of different cherry cultivars under different cold-chain scenariosAssess non-destructive spectroscopy using hyperspectral information to infer fruit texture and eating quality in cherriesCharacterize texture profile, cellular structure, and cell wall components in fruit from contrasting genotypes in order to understand differences in their eating qualityDr. Mogollon will be responsible forhyperspectral-related activities. He will be in charge of analyzing and modelling the spectral data with all the rest of the variables.Hewill be devoting 100% of his time to this project. The rest of the activitieswill be carried out by a graduate student, funded by the grant.Dr. Torres will mentor the Postdoctoral Researcher, and advice the Master student included in the project.Dr. McCordwill supervise the temporary laborers hired to harvest and transport the fruit to the TFREC laboratory. Dr. Whiting will be suporting activities related to fruit firmness assessment and taste panels.PD and CoPI's will discuss resultsand activities planned, as well as participate in outreach events throughout the execution of the project.

Torres, C.
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