Physiological disorders of apples, such as cork spot and bitter pit, are a result of low soil calcium, low or excessive soil moisture, large fruit size, and environmental conditions. We report on the effect of microirrigation treatments on apple fruit when irrigation is applied as water alone or water plus a calcium (Ca)/boron (B) solution with applications applied over the tree canopy or under the tree canopy. Apples were harvested from trees in their 4th to 7th leaf and the number of fruit and size of fruit varied from year to year. In most years, there were no significant differences among treatments for fruit Ca. Fruit B was significantly higher in treatments where B was applied through the irrigation. Fruit N/Ca levels were lower when the fruit size was smaller, which was due to a higher number of fruit per tree. Year to year variations in fruit Ca levels also were likely to temperature, humidity, rainfall, fruit size, and shoot growth.
Richard C. Funt, M. Scott Biggs, and Mark C. Schmittgen
Wesley R. Autio and Duane W. Greene
In 1991, experiments were conducted to assess the effects of several growth controlling techniques on tree growth and fruit set, abscision, ripening, and other qualities. The first two experiments assessed the effects of root pruning (4-8 days after petal fall, 1 m from the trunk, 30 cm deep) in commercial orchards. Compared to controls, root pruning reduced fruit abscision from mature `Cortland'/M.7A trees by 70% on 17 Sept. In another orchard, root pruning reduced fruit abscision from mature `McIntosh'/MM.106 trees by 47% on 24 Sept. The third experiment utilized vigorous `Gardiner Delicious'/MM.106 trees. Treatments included root pruning (as described above), trunk scoring (single, complete circle, approximately 40 cm from the soil), trunk ringing (single, complete circle, 1 mm wide, approximately 40 cm from the soil), ethrel spray treatment (500 ppm), and dormant-pruned and unpruned controls. Treatments were applied on 15 May, when terminal growth was 12-15 cm. No treatment affected fruit set. Trunk growth was less for ringed and scored trees than other treatments. Ringing and scoring advanced ripening compared to controls, and ethrel resulted in intermediate ripening. Treatments had no effect on fruit size, flesh firmness, or the development of bitter pit and cork spot. Fruit abscision was least from controls and root-pruned trees. Trees that were treated with ethrel in May had the most rapid abscision rate.
Gerry Neilsen, Peter Parchomchuk, Michael Meheriuk, and Denise Neilsen
Various schedules of 40 g N and 17.5 g P/tree per year were applied with irrigation water (fertigation) to `Summerland McIntosh' apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) trees on M.9 rootstock commencing the year of planting. Leaf K concentrations averaged 0.82% dry mass, indicating deficiency, by the third growing season. This coincided with extractable soil K concentrations of 50-60 μg·g-1 soil in a narrow volume of the coarse-textured soil located within 0.3 m of the emitters. The decline in leaf K concentration was reversed and fruit K concentration increased by additions of K at 15-30 g/tree applied either as granular KCl directly beneath the emitters in spring or as KCl applied as a fertigant in the irrigation water. K-fertilization increased fruit red color, size, and titratable acidity only when leaf K concentration was <1%. Fruit Ca concentration and incidence of bitter pit or coreflush were unaffected by K application. NPK-fertigation commencing upon tree establishment is recommended for high-density apple orchards planted on similar coarse-textured soils.
James M. Wargo and Chris B. Watkins
`Honeycrisp' apples (Malus × domestica) were harvested over 3-week periods in 2001 and 2002. Maturity and quality indices were determined at harvest. Fruit quality was evaluated after air storage [0.0 to 2.2 °C (32 to 36 °F), 95% relative humidity] for 10-13 weeks and 15-18 weeks for the 2001 and 2002 harvests, respectively. Internal ethylene concentrations (IEC), starch indices (1-8 scale), firmness and soluble solids content (SSC) did not show consistent patterns of change over time. Starch hydrolysis was advanced on all harvest dates, but it is suggested that a starch index of 7 is a useful guide for timing harvest of fruit in western New York. After storage, firmness closely followed that observed immediately after harvest, and softening during storage was slow. No change in SSC was observed during storage in either year. Incidence of bitter pit and soft scald was generally low and was not affected consistently by harvest date. The incidence of stem punctures averaged 18.5% over both years, but was not affected by harvest date. Development of stem end cracking in both years, and rot development in one year, increased with later harvest dates. A panel of storage operators, packers, growers, and fruit extension specialists evaluated the samples for appearance and eating quality after storage, and results suggested that a 2-week harvest window is optimal for `Honeycrisp' apples that are spot picked to select the most mature fruit at each harvest.
George M. Greene II
The apple cultivar Enterprise is a product of the Purdue–Rutgers–Illinois (PRI) disease-resistant apple breeding program. It has field immunity to apple scab, has a high level of resistance to cedar apple rust and fire blight, and is moderately resistant to apple powdery mildew. This resistance to these diseases makes the production of this cultivar desirable, especially on the popular fire blight-susceptible M.26 rootstock. Compared to many other scab-resistant cultivars, `Enterprise' has performed well in the mid-Atlantic area. However, this cultivar has been reported to be susceptible to low-Ca disorders when grown in New Jersey and Virginia. The mid-Atlantic area is notorious for the production of fruit with high levels of corking and bitter pit. This may be due to factors such as vigorous tree growth and low transpirational flow, which may be weather-related. Circumstantial evidence based on the production of clean `Enterprise' at Biglerville, Pa., where moderately high rates of CaCl2 have been applied in cover sprays, indicate that this disorder may be a Ca deficiency symptom. A replicated trial of many scab-resistant cultivars was established in 1990, 1991, and 1992. Due to the common incidence of low-Ca disorders, CaCl2 has been added to the cover spray program that is applied for insect control. Low-Ca disorders have never been seen in fruit produced at Biglerville, and the cover spray program applied 67 and 73 kg·ha–1 of CaCl2 (77% to 80% CaCl2, flake) in 1993 and 1994, respectively.
Carl Rosen*, Peter Bierman, Adriana Telias, Yizhen Shen, and Emily Hooverf
A field experiment was conducted at the Horticultural Research Center in Chanhassen, Minn. to help refine recommendations for use of calcium (Ca) sprays to reduce the incidence of bitter pit in `Honeycrisp' apple. Specific objectives were to: evaluate the amount of translocation from leaves to fruit using strontium (Sr) as a tracer for potential Ca movement, determine whether there are differences in translocation in early vs. later phases of fruit development, and evaluate the effect of an experimental adjuvant on spray efficacy. Seven treatments tested included the following: 1) Control (no Sr applied), 2) Sr without adjuvant, fruit covered during spray application, full season, 3) Sr without adjuvant, fruit uncovered during spray application, full season, 4) Sr + adjuvant, fruit covered during spray application, full season, 5) Sr + adjuvant, fruit uncovered during spray application, 6) Sr + adjuvant, fruit covered during spray application, late season, 7) Sr + adjuvant, fruit uncovered during spray application, late season. Results from this study strongly suggest that Sr is a suitable tracer for foliar applied Ca. Up to 18% of the Sr applied to leaves was translocated to fruit. Eight full season spray applications more than doubled the concentration and content of fruit Sr compared to four late season sprays. The experimental adjuvant was found to double Sr absorption by and translocation to fruit compared to not using an adjuvant. Implications for foliar application of Ca to apple trees will be discussed.
C. R. Unrath and R. E. Sneed
The response of ‘Red Delicious’ apples to low volume overtree evaporative cooling (EC) irrigation was studied over a 4-year period from 1969-72. While the amount of thermal load and irrigation system run-time varied from year to year, EC consistently resulted in fruit temperature reductions averaging 5.6°C (10.1°F) for the entire 509 hr the system operated over the 4-year period. In each of the 4 years, EC improved fruit quality; on the average increasing total reddish color 8%, solid red color 13%, soluble solids 1%, and fruit weight 22-g while reducing corking 8% and bitter pit 7%. The additional fruit coloration stimulated by EC concentrated harvest in the earlier portion of the harvest season. During the 4 years of the experiment, an additional 1/3 of the cooled crop was harvested, with sufficient solid red color to meet “extra fancy” U.S. grade, during the 1st 2 weeks of the seasons. Because of higher early-season prices, the concentrated earlier harvest of EC fruit is of considerable economic benefit. In locations where heat stresses are common, the use of EC and soil irrigation should be economically feasible.
Paulo Roberto Ernani, Jaques Dias, Cassandro Vidal Amarante, and Diorvania Ribieiro
Calcium sprays have improved quality and storage life of apples throughout the world as a result of Ca prevention of many fruit physiological disorders. The efficacy of Ca sprays, however, varies according to soil, cultivar/rootstock, orchard cultural practices, and weather conditions. This study was carried out from 1998 to 2004 in southern Brazil in order to assess the effect of Ca sprays on quality of `Gala' fruits in an orchard planted in 1988 on a density of 1234 trees/ha. Treatments consisted of 0, 4, 8, and 12 sprays of 0.5% CaCl2. Fruits of same size and maturity level were annually analyzed at harvest and after 5 months of cold storage. In five out of six seasons, fruits from all treatments were free of any physiological disorder, and Ca sprays had no effect on leaf composition and on fruit quality attributes (soluble solids, acidity, starch pattern index, flesh firmness, and concentrations of N, K, Ca, and Mg). In the 2000–01 season, however, when yield was 18 t·ha-1 and fruits had an average weight of 175 g, the incidence of bitter pit plus lenticel blotch pit on stored fruits decreased from 24% in the treatment with no calcium to 2% in that with 12 calcium sprays. Two seasons later, yield was also light (25 t·ha-1) and fruits were big in size (168 g), but they did not show any disorders regardless of Ca sprays. It seems that the incidence of Ca related disorders in `Gala' apples grown on limed soils in Brazil only occurs in seasons with a light crop load as a result of large fruits and a high leaf/fruit ratio, associated with some unknown climatic factor.
Terence L. Robinson* and Christopher B. Watkins
In 2001 and 2002, we imposed a wide range of croploads (0-15 fruits/cm2 of TCA) on 4- and 5-year-old Honeycrisp/M.9 trees by manual hand thinning soon after bloom to define appropriate croploads that give adequate repeat bloom and also the best fruit quality. At harvest each year we evaluated fruit ripening and quality. Samples were stored for 5 months in air at 38 °F and 33 °F and evaluated for fruit firmness and storage disorders. Cropload was negatively correlated with tree growth, return bloom, fruit size, fruit red color, fruit sugar content, fruit starch content, fruit firmness, fruit acidity, fruit bitter pit, fruit senescent breakdown, fruit rot and fruit superficial scald, but was positively correlated with leaf blotch symptoms, fruit internal ethylene concentration at harvest, and fruit soggy breakdown. There was a strong effect of cropload on fruit size up to a cropload 7, beyond which there was only a small additional effect. Although there was considerable variation in return bloom, a relatively low cropload was required to obtain adequate return bloom. Fruit red color was reduced only slightly up to a cropload of 8 beyond which it was reduced dramatically. The reduced fruit color and sugar content at high croploads could indicate a delay in maturity of but, fruits from high croploads were also softer, had less starch and greater internal ethylene. It that excessive croploads advance maturity. Overall, croploads greater than 10 resulted in no bloom the next year, and poor fruit size, color and flavor, but these fruits tended to have the least storage disorders. Moderate croploads (7-8) resulted in disappointing return bloom and mediocre fruit quality. For optimum quality and annual cropping, relatively low croploads of 4-5 were necessary.
Massimo Tagliavini and Bruno Marangoni
Most deciduous fruit crops in Italy are grown in the north and especially in the eastern part of the Po River Valley (mainly in the Emilia Romagna and Veneto regions) and in the Adige River Valley (South Tyrol and Trento provinces). Soils in the wide Po River Valley, where pear (Pyrus communis), peach and nectarine (Prunus persica), kiwifruit (Actinidia deliciosa), plum (Prunus domestica and P. insititia), apricot (Prunus armeniaca), cherry (Prunus avium), and apple (Malus domestica) are grown, are alluvial, generally fertile, fine textured, alkaline, often calcareous and well enriched with Ca. Apple plantings are concentrated in the Adige Valley and located on a variety of soil types, including sandy loam, loamy sand soils or sandy clay, sometimes calcareous. Integrated fruit production is gaining importance and represents more than 80% of apple production in South Tyrol and about 60% of peach and nectarine production in Emilia Romagna. Under these conditions, the main objectives of mineral nutrition are to reconcile production and environmental concerns (minimize nutrient leaching, soil pollution, volatile emissions). In particular, fertilization aims to improve external and internal fruit quality and storage ability, reduce production costs, maintain soil fertility, avoid nutrient deficiency and excess and control tree vigor. Nitrogen applications have strongly decreased in recent years and there is a need to improve the efficiency of N fertilizers while avoiding deficiencies. Research is focussing on application technology, timing of N uptake, internal cycling of N and methods for assessing the need for N application (e.g., using estimates of native soil N availability). Early diagnosis of bitter pit is recommended for guiding applications of Ca sprays. Iron deficiency and chlorosis is a major problem in pear, peach and kiwifruit grown in alkaline and calcareous soils and Fe chelates are usually applied annually to the soil or to the canopy. Current research is focused on agronomic means for controlling the problem and on developing rootstocks tolerant to Fe deficiency.