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I. S. Singh and B. S. Chundawat


A technique to induce early fruit maturation would permit staggering the harvest and provide an opportunity to avoid early fall rains which are common to grape growing regions with Mediterranean climates. Dipping trials with ethephon have resulted in advanced maturation in some cultivars of Vitis vinifera in Australia (2). The main effect observed was a decrease in total acidity. Weaver and Pool (4) observed that ethephon induced a significant increase in total soluble solids in ‘Carignane’ a wine cultivar but contrary results have also been reported (3). The present study was designed to determine the effect of ethephon on ‘Delight’, a table cultivar.

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Eric A. Curry

Warm daytime and cool nighttime temperatures during fruit maturation are conducive to anthocyanin synthesis and starch degradation in many apple cultivars. In parts of the world, high temperatures during fruit maturation result in sunburn of varying degrees of severity ranging from slight bleaching of the pigments in the epidermal layer to cracked and desiccated skin. This experiment assessed the effects of sunburn on fruit quality and mineral nutrition at harvest. In September 1990, about 2000 `Granny Smith' or `Delicious' apples were examined for sunburn and sorted into the following categories: none, light, bleached, bronzed, buckskin, and cracked. Twenty fruit were collected for each category. Each fruit was subdivided into exposed and shaded halves. Each half of each fruit was evaluated for firmness, soluble solids, and acidity. Tissue samples were analyzed for sugars, total nitrogen, and mineral content. Data suggest that excessive heat due to solar radiation creates a gradient of sugars and minerals within the fruit resulting in increased disorders in certain areas of the fruit.

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Gene Lester and Eduardo Stein

Changes in the physical and chemical properties of the plasma membrane from hypodermal mesocarp tissue of netted muskmelon (Cucumis melo L. var. reticulatus Naud.) fruit were compared in relation to the permeability changes of the same tissue during fruit maturation and storage at 4 or 24C. As muskmelon fruit progress from immaturity to maturity, and with storage of mature fruit at 4 or 24C, increased permeability of the hypodermal-mesocarp tissue occurs coincident with an increase in the saturation index of the plasma membrane phospholipids. Buoyant density of the plasma membrane from hypodermal mesocarp tissue increased from 1.13 to 1.14 g·cm-3 during fruit maturation. Vanadate-sensitive ATPase (EC activity was highest in mature fruit at harvest. After 10 days of storage, vanadate-sensitive ATPase activity was much lower in fruit kept at 24C than in those kept at 4C. The decrease in vanadate-sensitive ATPase activity in fruit stored at 24C was correlated with increased hypodermal-mesocarp membrane permeability. We suggest that biochemical changes affecting the lipid matrix of the plasma membrane influence fruit membrane permeability and possibly muskmelon storage life.

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Tzu-Bin Huang and Karen E. Koch

Transpiration, respiration, dry weight gain, and water accumulation were measured to quantify the total carbon balance, total water utilization, carbohydrate cost for fruit growth, and water use efficiency in developing fruit of grapefruit (Citrus paradisi Macf). Rate of net carbon loss and net water loss (mg g-1FW hr-1) both decreased during fruit development. On a whole fruit basis, total carbon demand was reduced during the period of peak expansion, then increased rapidly during fruit maturation. In contrast, whole fruit rates of water loss and water utilization (loss plus accumulation) peaked at about 100 days after anthesis, then decreased toward fruit maturation. Carbohydrate cost for fruit growth was greatest (3.49 g sucrose g-1DW) at the early stage of fruit development (immediately following anthesis), whereas water use efficiency peaked (193 mg DM g-1 H2O) at the final stage of fruit development. The thickness of albedo and pectin content in fruit may contribute to the observed water conservation. Total estimated carbon cost of grapefruit development indicates approximately 120 g of sucrose would be necessary for production of a 450 g fruit (77 g DW) at 22 C.

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I.J. Warrington, T.A. Fulton, E.A. Halligan, and H.N. de Silva

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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Zhiguo Ju

Three years of experiments were carried out with both Delicious fruit on trees and fruit skin discs. There were two peaks of phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL) activity during fruit development. One occurred in the fruitlet stage and the other in the fruit enlargement stage. The first peak was coincident with anthocyanin synthesis in fruitlet but the second peak did not correlate with pigment formation during maturation. In fact, PAL activity decreased gradually during fruit maturation and coloration. Treatment with L-α-aminooxy-B-phenylpropionic acid, a specific PAL inhibitor, decreased PAL activity in fruit and in skin discs 57% and 80%, respectively, but did not change anthocyanin content. Cycloheximide inhibited anthocyanin synthesis by 76% in fruit and 85% in skin discs, but did not significantly inhibit PAL activity. On the other hand, PAL activity was positively correlated with concentrations of simple phenols which were direct products of PAL and precursors for synthesis of lignin, anthocyanin and other flavonoid.

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Eric A. Curry and John J. Burke

Development of valid temperature-based models of physiological processes such as seed germination, bud development, vegetative growth, fruit development, or fruit maturation, requires a parameter to link temperature with plant metabolism. The Thermal Kinetic Window (TKW) concept uses the temperature characteristics of an enzyme kinetic parameter, the Michaelis constant (Km) as indicators of metabolic efficiency. Recently, Burke3 has shown that the temperature dependence of the rate and magnitude of the reappearance of photosystem II (PSII) variable fluorescence following illumination corresponded with the optimal temperature described by the TKW for several plant species. The present study investigated the use of the temperature sensitivity of PSII fluorescence in the identification of temperature optima of apple cultivars and rootstocks. 3Burke, J.J. 1990. Plant Physiol. 93:652-656.

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David M. Hunter and John T.A. Proctor

Paclobutrazol applied as a soil drench at 0, 1, 10, 100, or 1000 μg a.i./g soil reduced vegetative growth of `Seyval blanc' grapevines (Vitis spp.). At all rates, there was a reduction in internode length, while at rates higher than 10 μg a.i/g soil, there was also a reduction in node count. Leaf area produced following treatment declined in response to increasing rates, but specific leaf weight increased. Treatment with paclobutrazol delayed senescence and increased the retention of basal leaves that were nearly fully expanded at the time of treatment. Paclobutrazol application had no effect on fruit set or berry size, but the reduction in vegetative growth following treatment decreased the ability of the vine to supply sufficient photoassimilates for fruit maturation. Chemical name used: ß[(4-chlorophenyl)-methyl]-a-(1,1-dimethylethyl)1H-1,2,4-triazole-1-ethanol (paclobutrazol).

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Yufei Xu*, Eric Hanson, James Flore, and Wayne Loescher

In Michigan boron (B) deficiencies in sour cherry have resulted in routine use of B sprays to enhance fruit set and increase fruit yield. However, field observations indicate that high B levels are associated with premature softening, making fruit unacceptable for processing. Our fertilization studies show that fruit B levels are higher, but B generally has little or no effect on fruit size, maturity, color, or pull force. However, at some locations, B applications increase the number of soft fruit, especially when harvest is delayed well after the optimum maturity date (as indicated by pull force). B-induced yield increases can be achieved without inducing excessive fruit softening by careful monitoring of fruit maturation and prompt harvest. Leaf and fruit B levels will be presented.

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J.H. Keithly, H. Kobayashi, H. Yokoyama, and H.W. Gausman

Application of DCPTA as a pregermination seed treatment (DCPTA plants) increased the seedling vigor, relative growth rate, harvestable yield, and yield quality of processing tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. cvs. UC82, VF6203, H100). When compared with controls, the growth rates of roots and shoots of 30 μm DCPTA plants were increased significantly (P = 0.05) during seed germination and midexponential growth. At fruit harvest, greenhouse-grown 30 μm DCPTA plants showed a 2- to 3-fold increase in leaf, stem, and root dry weight compared with that of controls. Improvements in the uniformity of fruit maturation significantly increased the harvestable fruit yields of greenhouse-grown DCPTA plants compared with that of controls. The total soluble solids (oBrix), glucose, fructose, and carotenoid contents of red-ripe fruits harvested from greenhouse- and field-grown DCPTA plants were significantly increased compared with controls. Chemical name used: 2-(3,4-dichlorophenoxy)triethylamine (DCPTA).