Quality of stone fruit is defined by fruit size, color, firmness, flavor, shape, general appearance, adhesion and size of the stone and fruit surface characteristics (e.g. fuzz, abrasions, pest damage). Cultural practices, such as pruning, nutrition, irrigation, growth regulator usage and pesticide applications can influence these quality characteristics to a greater or lesser extent. Adequate potassium nutrition can improve soluble solids and fruit size in plums. Excess nitrogen fertilization can soften peaches. Well-timed calcium sprays are thought to improve the firmness of sweet cherries, as are applications of gibberellin. Ethylene synthesis inhibitor usage can alter the timing of ripening, reduce early fruit drop and improve storage. Irrigation scheduling is a tool that can be used to regulate final fruit size and firmness, as well as time of maturation. Selective pruning is used to structure a tree's architecture for improved light penetration to improve fruit size and color. These and other production practices will be discussed in relation to how they affect fruit quality in stone fruit.
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