In many cases, it is desirable to quantify the growth of horticultural products with functions (e.g., to analyze growth differences between treatments or as an input for crop simulation models). In all cases, measurements of fruit growth and quantification of the growth over time are needed.
Measurement of fruit growth can be done destructively, by regularly harvesting fruit (Arena and Curvetto, 2008; Hubbard and Pharr, 1992; Nielsen et al., 1991), and nondestructively, by performing repeated measurements on dimensions of fruit still attached to the plant (Garriz et al., 2005; Godoy et al., 2008; Greer, 2005; Pagamas and Nawata, 2008). Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages: repeated nondestructive measurements on the same fruit allows for following the growth of individual fruit and for investigation of variation in growth between fruit. On the other hand, repeatedly touching the fruit to measure them might also disturb their growth. Destructive harvest enables direct measurements of fruit weight (fresh or dry); with nondestructive measurements, intermediate equations are needed to convert fruit dimensions into fruit fresh or dry weight (e.g., Cuevas et al., 2003; De Silva et al., 1997; Marcelis, 1992; Marcelis and Baan Hofman-Eijer, 1995).
After obtaining the measurements, either destructively or nondestructively, the best equation describing the growth of the fruit needs to be selected. Growth of fruit like tomato (Lycopersicum esculentum) and sweet pepper follows a sigmoid growth curve (Adams et al., 2001; Marcelis and Baan Hofman-Eijer, 1995). The logistic, Gompertz, and Richards functions are often used to describe fruit growth over time (Adams et al., 2001; Barrera et al., 2008; Cuevas et al., 2003; Daymond and Hadley, 2008; Garriz et al., 2005; Marcelis, 1992; Tadesse et al., 2002). However, these functions have different properties with respect to their shapes. Comparison of different sigmoid functions and model selection should be done to assure the most appropriate one is used.
For different types of fruit and developmental rates, this article aimed at obtaining growth functions for growth of individual fruit of pepper. We tested which of the most commonly used functions, namely the logistic, Gompertz, and Richards functions, was most suitable to describe fruit growth of Capsicum. We also applied the beta growth function (Yin et al., 2003). The goal was to describe growth as the increase in weight, so attention is paid to the intermediate functions by which the fruit dimensions can be related to fruit weight. As both the growth in fresh weight and the growth in dry weight were obtained, the question is answered whether it is more appropriate to fit the sigmoid function to fresh fruit weight or dry fruit weight. Two experiments were used, one in which one cultivar was grown at three different average daily temperatures and one with six different cultivars with varying fruit sizes.
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