Mulch Types Affect Fruit Quality and Composition of Two Strawberry Genotypes

in HortScience
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  • 1 Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, MD 20705
  • | 2 Coastal Plains Soil, Water, and Plant Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Florence, SC 29501-1241

The influence of mulch types (black polyethylene, red polyethylene, and straw-vetch in raised bed hill culture) on the chemical composition of `Northeaster' and `Primetime' strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa Duch.) fruit and plant parts was evaluated. Ascorbic acid (AA), malic acid, citric acid, and ellagic acid levels were higher in `Primetime' than in `Northeaster' fruits, while `Northeaster' had a higher soluble solids content (SSC). Fruit grown on straw-vetch had lower SSC than did those grown on the polyethylene mulches. The AA content in the fruit of either cultivar was not affected by the mulch treatment. Fruit grown on the straw-vetch mulch had less red surface and flesh color but higher pigment intensity than fruit grown on the polyethylene mulches. Strawberry plants grown on straw-vetch mulch had the largest leaf area and the highest chlorophyll content, while plants grown on red polyethylene mulch had the smallest leaf area and lowest chlorophyll content. There were significant mulch × cultivar interactions in fruit titratable acid (TA) and AA levels, sugars, citric and ellagic acid contents, leaf area and chlorophyll levels, and soluble carbohydrate and starch contents in leaves, petioles, crowns, crown-roots, and roots. TA was highest in `Northeaster' fruit when grown on red polyethylene, whereas TA was highest in `Primetime' fruit when grown on straw-vetch. The highest fruit citric acid levels were found in straw-vetch mulched plots of `Northeaster', and in black polyethylene mulched plots of `Primetime'. Ellagic acid accumulation was highest in `Northeaster' fruit grown on black polyethylene, and in `Primetime' fruit grown on red polyethylene or straw-vetch mulches. Fruit glucose content was highest in `Northeaster', but lowest in `Primetime', when grown on the straw-vetch mulch. There was a general tendency for soluble carbohydrate and starch levels in plant tissues to be lowest when the plants were grown in red polyethylene mulch and highest when grown in black polyethylene mulch. `Primetime' contained higher total carbohydrate levels than did `Northeaster' in all tissues tested.

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