Following the selection of the top 20 variants from the original 630 plants, sucker and bit material from the original trial was planted in September and October 2019.
Bunches of the 20 variants began to emerge from the more established plants in March 2020 and continued throughout the year; the final harvest was performed in January 2021. Data was again collected on both agronomic performance and eating characteristics to substantiate the findings from the first investigation.
The taste panelling occurred once a week, with a maximum of six variants tasted in one session (including a Goldfinger and a Lady Finger ‘Dwarf Rossi’ as control samples to compare against). Panellists included colleagues who volunteered to taste the fruit under ‘controlled’ conditions at the research station and the family members and friends of those who took fruit home.
Each variant was tasted 3—4 times over the six-month trial period, except for variant 423 (which was only tasted twice due to late bunch emergence). Taste preference was ranked on a hedonic scale, which included the following categories: 1 = dislike extremely, 2 = dislike very much, 3 = dislike moderately, 4 = dislike slightly, 5 = neither like nor dislike, 6 = like slightly, 7 = like moderately, 8 = like very much, and 9 = like extremely.
Dwarf Rossi, the Lady Finger comparison, scored the highest overall rating (at 6.8) of all the varieties included in the taste panelling (Figure 1), corresponding with 77% of respondents indicating they would purchase it if it were commercially available (Figure 2). This was closely followed by variant 521, which was the best performer out of all the Goldfinger variants with an average rating of 6.5.