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Natalie L. Hubbard, D. Mason Pharr, and Steven C. Huber

Muskmelon (Cucumis melo L.) fruit lack a stored starch reserve and therefore depend on translocated photoassimilate from the leaf canopy for sugar accumulation during ripening. The influence of canopy photosynthesis on sucrose' accumulation within muskmelon fruit mesocarp was examined. Canopy photosynthetic activities were estimated in a sweet and a nonsweet genotype. Photosynthetic rate of the nonsweet genotype, on a per-plant basis, was only 56% of that of the sweet genotype. The effect of limiting leaf area of the sweet genotype on carbohydrate concentrations and sucrose metabolizing enzymes within the fruit was evaluated. A 50% reduction of leaf area 8 days before initiation of fruit sucrose accumulation resulted in canopy photosynthesis similar to that of the nonsweet genotype. Reduced photosynthetic activity resulted in slightly lower soluble-carbohydrate concentration in the fruit; however, fruit sucrose concentration was three times higher than that reported previously for the nonsweet genotype. The extent to which `fruit sucrose phosphate synthase (SPS) activity increased during maturation was diminished by leaf removal. Acid invertase activity declined in all fruit in a similar manner irrespective of defoliation. A reduction of leaf area of a sweet genotype reduced sucrose accumulation within the fruit. Lower fruit sucrose concentration was associated with lower concentration of raffinose saccharides and lower SPS activity within the fruit. Additionally, insufficient assimilate supply was judged not to be the factor responsible for low sucrose accumulation in a nonsweet genotype.

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Avinoam Nerd and Park S. Nobel

Water relations and fruit development were studied for up to 100 days after anthesis for potted plants of Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Mill. (a prickly pear) that were either well-watered or water-stressed, each plant consisting of a medium-sized cladode bearing two or three fruit. Even though cladodes of water-stressed plants lost up to 50% of their thickness, their fruit continued to gain water and to develop; at ripening such fruit had only 16% less water than fruit of watered plants. Maturation indicated by the decrease in fractional peel content and increases in pulp weight and in pulp soluble sugar content was hastened by water stress, leading to ripening ≈88 days after anthesis for water-stressed plants, which was 10 days earlier than for watered plants. Fruit had a lower stomatal frequency than the cladodes but both exhibited Crassulacean acid metabolism behavior. Transpiration occurred mainly at night, and the daily amount of water transpired per unit fruit surface area decreased with time, especially for fruit of water-stressed plants. This decrease was related to fruit expansion (leading to decreased stomatal frequency) for watered plants and to both fruit expansion and water stress for water-stressed plants. At 75 days after anthesis, daily diameter changes of fruit were correlated with transpiration, contraction occurring at night and expansion during the daytime, and changes were greater for watered plants for which daily transpiration was higher.

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Jeffrey K. Brecht, Robert L. Shewfelt, Joseph C. Garner, and E.W. Tollner

Cross-sectional X-ray-computed tomography (X-ray CT) images through the equator of tomato fruit (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill., cv. Sunny) ranging in maturity from immature (Ml) to advanced mature green (M4) revealed localized differences in X-ray absorption related to the formation of locular gel during maturation of the fruit. While maturity stage was poorly correlated with average X-ray absorbance and standard deviation or with average fruit density and water content, significant relationships' existed between maturity stage “and the number of image pixels with absorbance values >10 (Ml vs. M2 vs. M3) or 20 (M3 vs. M4) Hounsfield units. Using discriminant analysis, a relationship was developed that correctly identified the maturity class of 77% of the fruit and placed 96% of the tomatoes into the correct or an adjacent class.

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Krista C. Shellie and David Wolf

“Netted” (Cucumis melo var. reticulatus Naud.) cantaloupes typically abscise when mature, and have a shorter postharvest life than “Honeydew” (Cucumis melo var. inodoris Naud.) -type melons. The amount of ethylene and carbon dioxide produced by two cantaloupe genotypes (slipping), one Honeydew genotype (non-slipping), and the F1 hybrids derived from the slipping x non-slipping genotypes were measured during ripening to understand the genetic control of ethylene and fruit abscission. Sterile, nondestructive gas sampling ports inserted into 20-day-old fruit were used to extract samples from the central cavity of the melons and monitor ethylene and carbon dioxide from day 30 until the fruit was horticulturally mature. Honeydew melons had a lower rate of respiration during maturation and ripening than Netted melons, and Netted melons produced 10-fold more ethylene during ripening than Honeydew types. F1 fruit produced ethylene at levels similar to the Netted parent, abscissed 2 to 4 days later than the Netted parent, yet respired during maturation and ripening like the Honeydew-type parent. Ethylene production, respiration, and abscission appear to be controlled by dominant gene action.

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Irene Kadzere, Chris B. Watkins, Ian A. Merwin, Festus K. Akinnifesi, John D. K. Saka, and Jarret Mhango

The full commercial potential of wild loquat [Uapaca kirkiana (Muell. Arg.)], a fruit that is widely used for food and income in parts of Africa, is restricted by its short shelf life and variability in postharvest quality. We have evaluated within and among tree variability in fruit size and color at harvest, and changes of color, soluble solids concentrations (SSC) and pulp deterioration during storage, of fruit harvested during the maturation period. The relationships between fruit shape, size, seed number and SSC of fruit harvested at the ripe stage of maturity was also assessed. Size and color of fruit within and among trees at harvest varied greatly within the same location on the same harvest date. The a* values (redness) were more variable than for other color attributes, reflecting a range of fruit colors from greenish to brown. During a 6 day storage period, fruit color lightness and yellowness decreased, while redness increased, and variation in color attributes decreased. Although fruit color intensified during storage, the SSC of fruit after ripening was linked more with fruit color at harvest, with mean concentrations ranging from 6.7% to 13.8% among trees. When fruit were harvested four weeks later and categorized by color at harvest, SSC varied from 11.8% in greenish-yellow fruit to 14.5% in browner fruit. Pulp deterioration of stored fruit harvested unripe was observed by 6 days. The SSC of fruit harvested when ripe was not significantly correlated with shape, size or seed number. These observations have important implications for germplasm selection and collection of U. kirkiana for domestication purposes. Timing of harvest and/or postharvest sorting of fruit is likely to reduce variability in SSC during the postharvest period.

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Michele R. Warmund and James T. English

In 1993, ice-nucleation-active (INA) bacteria were isolated from `Redwing' red raspberries (Rubus idaeus L. var. idaeus) at five pigmentation stages. Fruit were also subjected to thermal analysis to determine the ice nucleation temperatures. INA bacteria were recovered from nearly all fruit samples, and the bacterial populations tended to decrease with greater red color development (i.e., fruit maturation). However, the ice nucleation temperature was not affected by the stage of fruit pigmentation. In 1994, INA bacterial densities were similar among fruit at the three pigmentation stages sampled. INA bacteria were recovered more often from the calyx rather than the drupe surface of these fruit. INA bacteria also were detected on pistils of some fruit. Red and pink fruit, which were nucleated with ice, had greater receptacle injury than mottled, yellow, or green fruit, but INA bacterial densities apparently were not related to injury. Thus, the injury response of fruit at different pigmentation (or development) stages indicated that nonbacterial ice nuclei may be involved in freezing injury of developing raspberries.

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Shohei Yamaki and Migifumi Ino

A study was conducted to determine the distribution of sugars in vacuoles, cytoplasm, and free space in apples (Malus domestica Bork) picked at the immature and mature stage of maturity. The volumes of free space and air space were 13.4% and 14.5%, respectively, in immature fruit, and 14.6% and 25.6%, respectively, in mature fruit. The inner cellular volume (vacuole + cytoplasm) was 72% and 60% for immature and mature fruit, respectively. About 90% of each sugar (glucose, fructose, sucrose, and sorbitol) was found in the vacuole. The concentration of total sugar in the inner cell or free space was 326 or 128 mm each in immature fruit and 937 or 406 mm each in mature fruit. Permeability to sugars across the plasma membrane and tonoplast also increased with fruit maturation, 7- to 30-fold for the tonoplast and 4- to 5-fold for the plasma membrane in mature compared to immature fruit. Cells in immature fruit apparently enlarge through higher turgor pressure from sequestering of sugars into vacuoles, and cease to enlarge in mature fruit as the amount of sugar unloading into the fruit is reduced due to the accumulation of sugar in the free space or cytoplasm.

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Takashi Nishizawa and Yoshihiro Shishido

June-bearing strawberry plants (Fragaria ×ananassa Duch. `Morioka 16') were forced in a greenhouse and either allowed to fruit or deflowered continuously. Plants were harvested at the start of the experiment (day 0), at full bloom (day 35), during rapid growth of green fruit (day 53), at first fruit coloring (day 63), at full coloring of the primary and some secondary fruit in the primary and secondary inflorescences (day 68), and at overripe of many primary and secondary fruit in the primary and secondary inflorescences (day 81). Dry matter accumulation in the vegetative organs in fruiting plants was less than that in deflowered plants as the fruit matured, but the total plant dry mass did not differ significantly between treatments throughout the forcing period. Reducing sugar and sucrose concentrations in roots, crown, and old leaves decreased continuously until day 68, particularly in roots. The concentrations did not differ between treatments. Starch concentrations in roots declined rapidly in both treatments between day 0 and day 35, and then the decline slowed. Starch level was significantly lower in the roots of fruiting plants from day 35 through fruit harvest. These results suggest that carbohydrate reserves in roots of forced June-bearing strawberry plants are used primarily to support the growth of inflorescences and developing leaves. They are less available for fruit growth and maturation since the levels are already relatively low by this stage.

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Gene E. Lester, John L. Jifon, and D. J. Makus

Netted muskmelon [Cucumis melo L. (Reticulatus Group)] fruit quality (ascorbic acid, β-carotene, total free sugars, and soluble solids concentration (SSC)) is directly related to plant potassium (K) concentration during fruit growth and maturation. During reproductive development, soil K fertilization alone is often inadequate due to poor root uptake and competitive uptake inhibition from calcium and magnesium. Foliar applications of glycine-complexed K during muskmelon fruit development has been shown to improve fruit quality, however, the influence of organic-complexed K vs. an inorganic salt form has not been determined. This glasshouse study investigated the effects of two K sources: a glycine-complexed K (potassium metalosate, KM) and potassium chloride (KCl) (both containing 800 mg K/L) with or without a non-ionic surfactant (Silwet L-77) on melon quality. Orange-flesh muskmelon `Cruiser' was grown in a glasshouse and fertilized throughout the study with soil-applied N–P–K fertilizer. Starting at 3 to 5 d after fruit set, and up to 3 to 5 d before fruit maturity at full slip, entire plants were sprayed weekly, including the fruit, with KM or KCl with or without a surfactant. Fruit from plants receiving supplemental foliar K had significantly higher K concentrations in the edible middle mesocarp fruit tissue compared to control untreated fruit. Fruit from treated plants were also firmer, both externally and internally, than those from non-treated control plants. Increased fruit tissue firmness was accompanied by higher tissue pressure potentials of K treated plants vs. control. In general, K treated fruit had significantly higher SSC, total sugars, total ascorbic acid, and β-carotene than control fruit. Fall-grown fruit generally had higher SSC, total sugars, total ascorbic acid and β-carotene concentrations than spring-grown fruit regardless of K treatment. The effects of surfactant were not consistent but in general, addition of a surfactant tended to affect higher SSC and β-carotene concentrations.

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Muhammad Marrush, M. Yamaguchi, and M.E. Saltveit

Seeds in fruit of bell pepper (Capsicum annuum `California Wonder') plants grown in nutrient solutions deficient in potassium (<3 mmol·L-1) showed a higher incidence of sprouting (i.e., vivipary) than seeds in fruit from plants grown at adequate potassium levels (6 mmol·L-1). Tissue analysis showed a progressive drop in the leaf content of potassium with increasing plant maturation for all levels of potassium nutrition. However, potassium in fruit and seeds increased at later stages of maturity. ABA was extracted, isolated and identified from bell pepper seeds obtained from fruit grown under the potassium treatments (0.0, 0.6, 1.5, 3.0, and 6.0 mmol·L-1) at five fruit maturity stages (mature-green to overripe). At early fruit maturity stages, there were no significant differences in seed ABA content in the fruit from the different potassium treatments. However, differences in ABA content and vivipary among the potassium treatments became highly significant as the fruit matured. The concentration of ABA in seeds of potassium-deficient treatments was ≈14% of the control (0.4 versus 2.8 μg·g-1 dry mass). High concentrations of ABA in bell pepper seeds were associated with low incidence of vivipary and high potassium content in the leaves, fruit and nutrient solution.