Strawberries

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The only grade for Strawberries is Canada No. 1.

Although there is a grade established under the regulations for strawberries, it is not mandatory that they be packed or shipped interprovincially or exported by grade, or that they be inspected, even for export.

Strawberries may be imported into Canada without being packed to meet the requirements of the established Canadian grade, and need not be accompanied by a government inspection certificate.

However, in all cases, the lot must meet the requirements of the grade if the grade name appears on the packages.

Size

  • Minimum diameter of 5/8 of an inch for Early Bird, Dunlap and Everbearing varieties.
  • Minimum diameter of 3/4 of an inch for all other varieties.

Grade Factors

Development

Canada No. 1 strawberries must be well formed. This means the fruit is not misshapen due to poor pollination, frost injury, insect injury, etc. Catfaces at the blossom end are poorly formed berries and are culls.

Colour

Canada No. 1 strawberries must be of good colour, which means the berries are of the colour characteristic of the variety when mature. Although not defined in the standards, it is generally felt that at least 3/4 of the surface of individual berries should be of good colour.

The following terms may be used to describe colour on strawberries, particularly at destination:

Well Coloured: The berries are practically fully pink or red colour.

Fairly Well Coloured: At least 3/4 of the surface is pink or red colour.

Poorly Coloured: Less than 3/4 of the surface is pink or red colour.

Immature

With respect to maturity, as well as being of good colour, Canada No. 1 strawberries must be firm. Generally, firmness is treated as a condition factor on strawberries due to its progressive nature, although berries which are hard and green and obviously will not ripen should be scored a grade defects.

Cleanliness

Canada No. 1 strawberries must be fairly clean. This means that the fruit may not be affected by dirt which is readily apparent.

Calyxes

The Canada No. 1 grade for strawberries requires that the calyxes be attached. Berries with calyxes missing should be scored against the general tolerances.

Bird Pecks and Insect Injury

Bird pecks and insect injuries are scoreable if the flesh is penetrated, or if the appearance is materially affected. Materially affected means that the injury is readily apparent.

Condition Defects

Firmness

Due to the high degree of perishability of this commodity, and the fact that the ripening process can continue fairly rapidly in transit, firmness is generally considered as a condition factor.

Canada No. 1 berries must be firm.

Ripe and firm: means that the berries are mature enough for immediate or early consumption and yet are sufficiently firm to permit handling through the normal trade channels.

Ripe and soft: these are overripe berries, fully coloured, usually dull in appearance and are soft and sticky to touch. Soft berries are defects.

Note: Firm berries with soft bruised areas should be scored as bruised rather than soft.

Bruising

Bruising can be one of the most serious defects on strawberries. Berries harvested during wet weather conditions often progress to various forms of decay when bruised. On the other hand, berries harvested in dry weather may be bruised slightly, be refrigerated and carry satisfactorily.

In general the following rules of thumb may be applied:

  • Slight bruises: that are incident to proper packing and handling should be ignored.

The following shall be scored as damage:

  • Wet bruises: when the skin is broken or when the seed structure is more than slightly disturbed.
  • Soft bruises: which are more than slight and are discoloured.
  • Bruises: which aggregate more than 1/2 the diameter of the berry or exceed 1/8 inch in depth.
  • Flattened areas: as a result of package or pressure bruises, found mostly around the shoulder should not be scored unless the appearance is materially affected. Materially affected means more than 1/3 of the surface of the berry is flat.

While reporting bruising during destination inspections, always describe on the certificate the extent of the area affected on the individual fruit.

Moisture

The Canada No. 1 grade for strawberries requires that the fruit be free from surface moisture.

Wet Berries

This is normally a shipping point problem and the surface moisture is usually a result of berries being harvested after a rainfall. At shipping point, all wet berries are scoreable.

At destination, normally, berries wet from rainfall are not common. A slight amount of moisture from condensation would not normally be considered serious enough to be scoreable. Usually wet berries are not reported at destination.

Wet Berries from Leaking and/or Decayed Berries

At destination, wet berries would likely be caused by leaking juice, in which case the percentage of soft, leaking or decayed berries would probably be quite high. At destination, these berries will be reported as wet berries from leaking and/or decayed berries in general terms.

Mould

Canada No. 1 strawberries must be free from mould. Mould on the surface of a berry is usually an indication of the presence of one of a number of pathological organisms, which in all probability will lead to the decay of the berry. Berries showing any noticeable amount of mould should be scored in general terms as accompanying the decayed berries.

Example: Avg. X%, range X% to X% decayed berries many of which are accompanied by white mould.

Decay

Canada No. 1 strawberries must be free from decay.

A number of different forms of decay affect strawberries. Although it is not necessary to distinguish between different forms of decay, it is advantageous to describe the decay with respect to discolouration, colour and nature of mould growth, etc.

It is often difficult, particularly at destination, to distinguish between soft berries, soft bruises and decayed berries. In general, if the area is mushy and very discoloured or soft, mushy with mould present, the fruit may be scored as decayed. Otherwise, the fruit would probably be scored as soft bruises, soft berries, or wet and leaking. Leather Rot, although not soft and mushy, is scored as decay.

Other Defects

Other than the defects mentioned above, Canada No. 1 berries must be free from any injury or defect that materially affects the appearance, edibility or shipping quality.

Sampling

Probably the most important and most difficult part of the inspection is the proper sampling procedure. Strawberries are a highly perishable product and weather conditions at time of harvest influence the keeping quality of the berry. Carlots or trucklots may be made up of lots from various growers or may have been harvested under a variety of weather conditions. It is therefore essential to select crates or trays for sampling from various areas and layers of the load to ensure the samples are truly representative of the lot.

Sampling should be as per the newly adopted sampling plan. The recommended procedure is to count the berries in the sample and score defective specimens under the appropriate headings by count. From each sample tray, count all the berries in two cups if 12 cups in the tray and all the berries in three cups if 16 cups in the tray.

Tolerances

The tolerances for Canada No. 1 grade strawberries are applied by count.

  • Any one defect - 5%
  • Decay - 2%
  • Undersize (under 3/4 inch min. diameter) - 5%
  • 10% Total
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