578 The Influence of Reflective Film on Red Skin Color and Maturity of Peaches in South Carolina

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  • 1Dept. of Horticulture, Clemson Univ., Clemson, SC 29634-0375; 2Coastal R.E.C., 2865 Savannah Hwy., Charleston, SC 29414

Replicated trials were conducted in summers of 1998 and 1999 at several commercial orchards to determine the influence of a metalized, high-density polyethylene reflective film (SonocoRF, Sonoco Products Co., Hartsville, S.C.) on fruit red skin color and maturity of peach cultivars that historically have poor red coloration in South Carolina. At each site there were two experimental treatments: i) Control; and ii) Reflective Film (RF). RF was laid 2 to 4 weeks before anticipated first pick date by laying a 5-ft-wide strip of plastic on either side of the tree row in the middles. Treatment blocks at a given farm ranged from 0.5 to 1 acre in size and each treatment was replicated four times at each site. At harvest, two 50-fruit samples were picked from each block per treatment. All fruit were sized and visually sorted for color (1 = 0% to 25%, 2 = 26% to 50%, 3 = 51% to 75%, and 4 = 76% to 100% red surface, respectively). A 10-fruit subsample was selected following color sorting and evaluated for puncture pressure and soluble solids concentration (SSC). All cultivars tested (CVN1, Loring, Bounty, Summer Gold, Sun Prince, Cresthaven, and Encore) experienced significant increases in percent red surface when RF was used in 1998 and 1999. This color improvement ranged from 16 to 44% (mean = 28%). On average, fruits from RF were 0.8 lb softer and had 0.3% higher SSC than control fruits. Growers harvested more fruit earlier and in fewer picks for RF. Fruit size was not affected by RF. The influence of RF on orchard microclimate and quality and quantity of reflected light will be discussed.

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