The influence of photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) on peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] fruit quality and the relationship between ground color and flesh firmness was studied by performing three experiments. Fruit with varying ground colors were sampled from different canopy positions with varying PPF. Fruit skin color was measured with a tristimulus colorimeter and values for L* (lightness), chroma (brightness), and hue angle (numerical values for color) were calculated for each fruit. Fruit from the canopy exterior generally were larger, had more surface area colored red, had higher soluble solids concentrations, and were darker, duller, and redder than fruit harvested from interior positions. In all three experiments, the relationship between hue angle and fruit firmness was affected by PPF, but the nature of the relationship (linear vs. curvilinear) and the influence of position was not consistent. When fruit were covered with aluminum foil or a section of the fruit surface was covered with duct tape to prevent light-induced red coloration of the skin, the relationship between hue angle and fruit firmness was similar for different canopy positions. Therefore, the relationship between ground color and fruit firmness is influenced by the light environment in which a fruit develops, and not by canopy position. Ground color does not seem to be a good indicator of fruit firmness because fruit with the same hue angle had greatly differing firmnesses.
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