Crop Load Density Affects ‘York’ Apple Juice and Hard Cider Quality

in HortScience

To assess the impact crop load has on hard cider chemistry, ‘York’ apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) trees were hand thinned to three different crop loads: low [two apples per cm2 branch cross-sectional area (BCSA)], medium (four apples per BCSA), and high (six apples per BCSA). Higher crop loads produced smaller, less acidic fruit that were slightly more mature. In juice made from fruit from these treatments, the total polyphenol content did not differ at harvest, but, after fermentation, the medium crop load had 27% and the high crop load had 37% greater total polyphenol content than the low crop load. Yeast assimilable nitrogen (YAN) concentration in juice made from fruit from the low crop load treatment had 18% and 22% greater than the medium and high crop load, respectively. YAN concentrations in juice from the medium and high crop load treatments were similar. Our results provide apple growers and hard cider producers with a better understanding of how apple crop load impacts YAN concentrations in juice and total polyphenol concentrations in juice and cider.

Contributor Notes

We thank David Carbaugh, Abby Kowalski, Taylor Mackintosh, Hengjian Wang, Sihui Ma, Molly Kelly, Tina Plotka, Ken Hurley, Ann Sandbrook, and Brian Wiersema for technical assistance.

Funding for this work was provided by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station, and the Hatch Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Corresponding author. E-mail: gmp32@cornell.edu.

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    Yeast assimilable nitrogen of juice from ‘York’/‘M.9’ apple trees with low [two fruit per branch cross-sectional area (BCSA)], medium (four fruit per BCSA), and high (six fruit per BCSA) crop loads in Winchester, VA. Mean separation by Tukey’s honestly significant difference test; error bars represent se (n = 4).

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    Fermentation monitoring of juice from ‘York’/‘M.9’ apple trees with low [two fruit per branch cross-sectional area (BCSA)], medium (four fruit per BCSA), and high (six fruit per BCSA) crop loads in Winchester, VA, for 15 d, reported as observed soluble solids concentration on each day for each treatment. Plotted values represent means and error bars represent se (n = 4).

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