Groundcover Materials Improve Quality and Storability of 'Aroma' Apples

in HortScience
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  • 1 Department of Crop Science. The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, P.O. Box 44, SE-230 53 Alnarp, Sweden

To decrease the unfavorable effects of herbicides on human health and on the environment, new sustainable mulching methods have been developed. These methods aim to impede weed growth and also result in good yield and high fruit quality. The objective of the present study was to investigate the effects of the replacement of conventional methods (chemical treatments or mechanical) with different groundcover material systems (GCMSs) that use aluminum, bark and black polypropylene on 'Aroma' apple (Malus domestica) fruit maturity and quality, and fruit resistance to bruising and decay. The experiment was carried out from 1995 to 2001. Compared with conventional mulching methods, aluminum mulching was found to control annual weeds more effectively, to increase soil temperature, light reflection, yield, and fruit weight, to decrease bruise occurrence, to intensify and saturate the red coloration of apples, and to increase firmness and acid and sugar contents, resistance to storage disorders and decay after storage and shelf life. The other two used GCMSs, bark and black polypropylene also influenced many yield and quality parameters. However, less positive influences on the different parameters were found for bark compared with aluminum, and the use of black propylene was not favorable compared with the conventional mulching methods. Generally, decreased starch content at early picking dates was found for apples grown with GCMSs, indicating an earlier ripening for these apples compared with apples grown with a conventional mulching system. In summary, aluminum mulching was found to be the best alternative mulching method for production of 'Aroma' apples.

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