(331) In Brazil, Preharvest Calcium Sprays Were Not Always Needed to Improve Fruit Quality of `Gala' Apples

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  • 1 1Santa Catarina State University, Soil Science, Av. Luis de Camões, 2090, Lages, SC, 88520-000, Brazil
  • | 2 2Grupo Schio, Agropecuaria Schio, BR 285 km 3 Bairro Gloria, Vacaria, RS, 95200-000, Brazil
  • | 3 3Santa Catarina State University, Soil Science, Lages, SC, Brazil

Calcium sprays have improved quality and storage life of apples throughout the world as a result of Ca prevention of many fruit physiological disorders. The efficacy of Ca sprays, however, varies according to soil, cultivar/rootstock, orchard cultural practices, and weather conditions. This study was carried out from 1998 to 2004 in southern Brazil in order to assess the effect of Ca sprays on quality of `Gala' fruits in an orchard planted in 1988 on a density of 1234 trees/ha. Treatments consisted of 0, 4, 8, and 12 sprays of 0.5% CaCl2. Fruits of same size and maturity level were annually analyzed at harvest and after 5 months of cold storage. In five out of six seasons, fruits from all treatments were free of any physiological disorder, and Ca sprays had no effect on leaf composition and on fruit quality attributes (soluble solids, acidity, starch pattern index, flesh firmness, and concentrations of N, K, Ca, and Mg). In the 2000–01 season, however, when yield was 18 t·ha-1 and fruits had an average weight of 175 g, the incidence of bitter pit plus lenticel blotch pit on stored fruits decreased from 24% in the treatment with no calcium to 2% in that with 12 calcium sprays. Two seasons later, yield was also light (25 t·ha-1) and fruits were big in size (168 g), but they did not show any disorders regardless of Ca sprays. It seems that the incidence of Ca related disorders in `Gala' apples grown on limed soils in Brazil only occurs in seasons with a light crop load as a result of large fruits and a high leaf/fruit ratio, associated with some unknown climatic factor.

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