Apple Fruit Growth and Maturity are Affected by Early Season Temperatures

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 The Horticulture and Food Research Institute of New Zealand Ltd., Private Bag 11030, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Container-grown `Delicious', `Golden Delicious', `Braeburn', `Fuji' and `Royal Gala' apple [Malus sylvestris (L.) Mill. var. domestica (Borkh.) Mansf.] trees, on Malling 9 (M.9) rootstock, were subjected to a range of different maximum/minimum air temperature regimes for up to 80 days after full bloom (DAFB) in controlled environments to investigate the effects of temperature on fruit expansion, final fruit weight, and fruit maturation. Fruit expansion rates were highly responsive to temperature with those at a mean of 20 °C being ≈10 times greater than those at a mean of 6 °C. All cultivars exhibited the same general response although `Braeburn' consistently showed higher expansion rates at all temperatures compared with lowest rates for `Golden Delicious' and intermediate rates for both `Delicious' and `Fuji'. The duration of cell division, assessed indirectly by measuring expansion rate, appeared to be inversely related to mean temperature (i.e., prolonged under cooler conditions). Subsequently, fruit on trees from the coolest controlled temperature treatment showed greater expansion rates when transferred to the field and smaller differences in fruit size at harvest than would have been expected from the measured expansion rates under the cool treatment. Nonetheless, mean fruit weight from warm postbloom treatments was up to four times greater at harvest maturity than that from cool temperature treatments. Postbloom temperature also markedly affected fruit maturation. Fruit from warm postbloom temperature conditions had a higher soluble solids concentration, more yellow background color, lower flesh firmness, and greater starch hydrolysis than fruit from cooler temperatures.

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