Identification of factors involved and control of astringency in pears


Cheeky is a new pear cultivar exported to the EU market that receives a premium price. Feedback from several supermarket chains has identified that Cheeky is becoming increasingly unpopular because of high levels of astringency, which is compromising its eating experience. Several supermarkets no longer want this cultivar and this could have disastrous consequences should other supermarkets follow this trend. Forelle, the second most exported pear from South Africa, may also experience astringency, although this appears to be to some extent a seasonal variation, with the disorder more problematic in some years compared to others.


Since submitting this report to PHI-3 for consideration, final fruit examinations from the 2014 season have been completed and so certain emphasis of the trial have changed according to these results. In some instances, this has resulted in the completion of physiological profiling studies (Cheeky), and in others, completion of certain aspects of the SmartFreshSM studies (Forelle).

The aim of this study is to determine ways in which to predict, eliminate, or control this disorder, without compromising the overall quality of the fruit. Identification of the factors (environmental, pre-harvest or postharvest) that cause astringency in pears, and in particular Cheeky and Forelle, would help to put in place protocols to control this disorder.

Plantings and production of Cheeky, a new blushed pear cultivar, have increased over the last few years. Market feedback has identified that this cultivar may experience high levels of astringency, which is tarnishing the image of this new pear variety. Another cultivar, Forelle, which is currently a primary export pear cultivar, may also experience the expression of astringency.

The aim of this project is to identify the factors causing pear cultivars to become astringent, and to determine ways in which to successfully market pears, and Cheeky in particular, without any astringency.

Reducing the risk of astringency in Cheeky and Forelle will aid in market confidence in these pear cultivars resulting in premium prices, better sales and a competitive edge over other countries that supply astringent fruit to the EU export market.