Optimizing Nitrogen for Improving Yield and Fruit Quality of `Redspur Delicious' Apple

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  • 1 1Univ. of Idaho, 29603 U of I Lane, Parma, ID 83660
  • 2 2Washington State Univ., Dept. of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Pullman, WA 99164

Effects of three times and five rates of urea application on productivity, tree growth, soil nitrate movement, nutrient partitioning, and postharvest fruit quality of `Redspur Delicious' apple on M.7 rootstock over several years were studied. Time of application did not have significant effects on most fruit quality factors or yield. However, significant differences were observed for quality and yield measurements among different quantities of N. Fruit firmness decreased with every increment in N increase. Trees with N at 0.045 kg/tree had lower yield and higher fruit firmness than those with higher quantities of N. Fruit weight and color decreased with each increment increase in the quantity of N. Trees with N at 0.045 and 0.18 kg/tree had significantly better (more red) color and lower fruit N and leaf N than those with higher quantities of N. Bud tissue nutrients were affected by quantity of N application. Fruit from trees with N at <0.18 kg/tree had lower soluble solids. High N increased fruit ethylene and respiration. Nitrogen application affected 2-methyl butyl acetate of fruit. Monitoring nitrate movement through the soil showed that application of N at >0.45 kg/tree, particularly in fall resulted in excess levels of nitrate, increasing the possibility of underground water contamination. Applying N at ≤0.32 kg/tree did not result in excess soil nitrate at 1.52-m depth.

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