Strawberry fruit quality traits can be affected by genotype–environment interactions, determining the final consumer acceptance of fruits. Trait stability under varying environments is necessary to ensure the fruit quality of strawberries selected by breeding programs.
Hence, inter- and intra-annual variation of organoleptic and functional fruit quality parameters of five strawberry varieties throughout four consecutive cropping seasons was analyzed to assess their relative stability. In most varieties, organoleptic parameters showed higher inter-annual stability but greater variability throughout the season, while the reverse was true for the functional quality parameters.
Relative humidity and mean and minimum temperatures partially accounted for fruit quality variation but other factors along with the genotype may also have an influence. Among the varieties, ‘Splendor’ displayed greater year-on-year stability in organoleptic parameters, and ‘Sabrina’ and Candonga showed higher inter- and intra-annual stability on functional fruit quality, respectively.
Environmental variation did not affect fruit quality parameters similarly in all strawberry varieties. In ‘Sabrina’ and Candonga antioxidant capacity (TEAC) was greater and stable throughout the cropping season, underlining TEAC as a tool for varietal selection, and suggesting these two varieties as parents for breeding programs that seek healthy features and high-quality fruits that meet consumer demands.