The Effect of Calcium Sprays and Crop Load on Bitter Pit Incidence in `Honeycrisp' Apple

in HortScience
Authors:
Adriana Telias*Univ. of Minnesota, Horticultural Science, St. Paul, MN 55108

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Emily HooverUniv. of Minnesota, Horticultural Science, St. Paul, MN 55108

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Carl RosenUniv. of Minnesota, Horticultural Science, St. Paul, MN 55108

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David BedfordUniv. of Minnesota, Horticultural Science, Excelsior, MN 55331

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`Honeycrisp', a relatively new apple cultivar, is susceptible to bitter pit, a physiological disorder that develops mainly during storage. Although the cause of bitter pit is unknown, calcium (Ca) content of the fruit is known to be involved. A field experiment was conducted in Chanhassen, Minn. to refine recommendations for use of Ca sprays for reduction of bitter pit in `Honeycrisp' apple. Specific objectives were to determine: 1) Ca concentration and content throughout the fruit growing season; and 2) the association of bitter pit incidence with Ca concentration, crop load, vegetative growth and fruit size. Six treatments tested included: control; Ca(NO3)2 sprays all season; Ca(NO3)2 sprays early in the season; Ca(NO3)2 sprays late in the season; hand-thinning combined with Ca(NO3)2 sprays all season and hand-thinning. Ca concentration in fruits was measured bi-weekly using three different sampling methods: segments, cores and plugs. A randomized block design with four trees as experimental unit and five replications was used. Results suggest lower crop loads increase bitter pit incidence. While fruit from the thinned treatments was larger in size by the end of the experiment, no bitter pit was present at harvest. After 4 months of storage, the hand thinning treatment had 7.4% bitter pit, while thinning plus Ca reduced bitter pit to 2.4%. The other treatments had less than 1% bitter pit. Fruit analyses at the end of the growing season indicate that early and full season sprays resulted in the highest Ca concentration in fruit segments and cores. The lowest values were found for the thinning treatment. No association was found between vegetative growth and bitter pit incidence.

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