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  • Author or Editor: Jacqueline K. Burns x
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Temporal studies were conducted from mid- to late-harvest season of `Ruby Red' grapefruit (Citrus paradisi Macf.) to evaluate the effect of on- and off-tree storage, fruit size, and juice vesicle position on the development of granulation. Juice vesicle fresh and dry masses were highest at the stem and stylar positions of the fruit section and were not affected significantly by time of harvest or by storage. Juice vesicles isolated from each position were subjectively evaluated for the presence of granulation. Granulation was highest in stylar juice vesicles obtained from large fruit (≈600 g) that were harvested late in the season (March and May) and stored in air at 21 °C for 60 days. Large fruit harvested in March and May and examined immediately, and fruit harvested in January and stored for 60 days had low granulation scores. Thus, fruit remaining on the tree until May are less susceptible to the disorder than those harvested in March and held in storage until May. Levels of alcohol-insoluble solids (AIS), largely composed of pectins and other cell wall materials, were significantly higher in juice vesicles that were granulated. The results suggest that storage itself was not responsible for the marked accumulation of AIS in granulated juice vesicles. Rather, some interaction of fruit size with maturation, as well as other factors such as tree age and rootstock, likely contributed to the development of granulation.

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Plant growth regulators (PGRs) play important roles in the way plants grow and develop. Myriad processes important to horticultural crops are regulated by PGRs. Changes in the presence, balance, and distribution of PGRs communicate developmental, stress-related, or environmental cues that alter growth. Short-distance communication involves changes in biosynthesis or metabolic conversion, whereas longer-distance communication may also require export and translocation of PGRs, their precursors or metabolites. Examples are presented that demonstrate PGR communication between roots and shoots in horticultural commodities. For example, increased duration and intensity of flooding stress can result in synthesis of 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC), precursor of the PGR ethylene, in roots. ACC transported to the shoot through the transpiration stream is converted to ethylene and causes leaf epinasty. Roots sense the onset of water stress and can communicate the need to close leaf stomata by altering abscisic acid (ABA) levels in the shoot. Daylength and temperature regulate synthesis and transport of gibberellins, which promote stem elongation and stolon formation and inhibit tuberization in potato. Outgrowth of axillary buds following the decapitation of the apical meristem is dependent on synthesis and transport of cytokinin from root to the axillary buds as well as the balance of indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) cytokinin, and additional messengers. Current research in the field of long-distance communication within plants is uncovering novel messengers and altering our view of the central roles for PGRs in such signaling.

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To successfully use abscission agents for ‘Valencia’ sweet orange mechanical harvesting throughout the harvest season, unwanted flower, fruitlet, and leaf drop must be assessed and minimized. Ethephon (400 mg·L−1), 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP; 5 mm), ethephon + 1-MCP, 5-chloro-3-methyl-4-nitro-1H-pyrazole (CMNP; 200 mg·L−1), and a kinetic adjuvant control [0.15% (v/v)] were applied to ‘Valencia’ branches at various times from full bloom in Mar. 2006 to the end of full bloom in Mar. 2008. Effects of these treatments on fruit detachment force (FDF) and abscission of developing and mature fruit, flowers, and leaves were recorded. Three separate response periods to abscission agent applications were observed: the first spanned the first 100 days after bloom (DAB) and was characterized by high initial response followed by decreasing sensitivity; the second spanned between 100 and 225 DAB and was characterized by little to no response; and the third spanned from 225 DAB to harvest and was characterized by a gain in sensitivity. Young fruitlets in the first response period were highly sensitive to ethephon but were less sensitive to CMNP or ethephon + 1-MCP. Mature fruit in the third response period were highly sensitive to CMNP and less sensitive to ethephon or ethephon + 1-MCP. The application of ethephon resulted in high leaf abscission and showed no clear sensitivity pattern throughout both cropping years. CMNP or ethephon + 1-MCP application caused minimal leaf abscission. The same abscission agent treatments were applied on whole tree canopies 6 and 28 DAB in Mar. 2007. Application date had no significant effect on the measured parameters. Although ethephon application induced high initial leaf drop, leaf area indices determined 7 months after any compound application were not significantly different. However, subsequent 2008 yield in trees sprayed with ethephon in 2007 was significantly less, whereas 2008 flower number was higher. The results indicate a complex interaction of fruitlet abscission and leaf loss during the first response period contributed to yield reduction and increased flower number in ethephon-treated trees.

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When applying abscission agents to tree fruit to facilitate harvest, it is desirable to loosen fruit and not leaves or other organs, but mechanisms controlling leaf and fruit drop are not fully understood. The effect of 450 μL·L−1 ethephon (ethylene-releasing agent) alone or in combination with 1-methylcyclopropene [1-MCP (ethylene perception inhibitor)] on leaf and mature fruit abscission of ‘Valencia’ sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) was studied. Leaf abscission increased and fruit detachment force (FDF) decreased significantly especially 4 days after ethephon treatment. Leaf drop rose to over 80% 7 days after application, whereas FDF was only 30% less than untreated control fruit. When 1-MCP was combined with ethephon and applied to ‘Valencia’ sweet orange canopies, leaf abscission was greatly reduced, but reduction in FDF proceeded unabated. We hypothesized that differential response of ‘Valencia’ sweet orange fruit and leaves to 1-MCP was correlated with expression of ethylene biosynthetic and signaling genes and their downstream action. Partial or full-length nucleotide sequences were obtained for ‘Valencia’ sweet orange homologs of 1-amino-cyclopropane-1-carboxylate synthase-1 (CsACS1), 2 (CsACS2), 1-amino-cyclopropane-1-carboxylate oxidase (CsACO), ethylene response sensor-1 (CsERS1), ethylene response-1 (CsETR1), 2 (CsETR2), 3 (CsETR3), constitutive triple response-1 (CsCTR1), ethylene insensitive-2 (CsEIN2), and ethylene insensitive 3-like-1 (CsEIL1) and 2 (CsEIL2). Ethephon application increased expression of biosynthesis genes CsACS1 and CsACO and receptors CsERS1 and CsETR2 in the abscission zones of leaves and mature fruit. Ethephon-induced increase in gene expression was completely suppressed by 1-MCP application in all but CsACS1 and CsACO in fruit abscission zones. Although gene expression was suppressed initially, CsACS1 and CsACO expression in fruit abscission zones treated with 1-MCP in the presence or absence of ethephon increased over the 7-day measurement period, suggesting that CsACS1 and CsACO expression were negatively regulated by basal ethylene production in this tissue. However, 1-MCP treatment alone did not loosen fruit, indicating that CsACS1 and CsACO played minor roles in fruit abscission. To determine if the difference in ethylene sensitivity was the basis of differential response to ethylene within the same organ, potted ‘Valencia’ sweet orange plants were treated with ethylene, and rates of blade and petiole drop and detachment forces at the laminar and petiolar abscission zones were studied. Although leaf blades abscised earlier than petioles, the force of detachment was similar, indicating no differences in ethylene sensitivity. Overall, the most significant difference between fruit and leaf abscission zones was seen in the expression of CsACS1 and CsACO genes, but the expression pattern was poorly correlated with abscission.

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Several citrus cultivars including `Marsh' grapefruit (Citrus paradisi Macf.) and `Fallglo' tangerine [Bower citrus hybrid (C. reticulata Blanco × C. reticulata × C. paradisi) × Temple tangor (C. reticulata × C. sinensis L. Osbeck)] are prone to develop postharvest peel pitting at nonchilling temperatures. This disorder is characterized by depressions in flavedo that ultimately affect oil glands. Although the fundamental cause for this disorder has not been well defined, increasing evidence indicates that alteration in peel water status during postharvest handling of fruit plays a major role. `Fallglo' tangerines developed postharvest peel pitting when transferred from low (30%) to high (90%) relative humidity (RH) storage. To determine the number of hours of dehydration prior to storage at high RH sufficient to induce peel pitting in `Marsh' grapefruit and `Fallglo' tangerines, fruit were exposed to low RH conditions for increasing periods of time and then washed, coated with commercial shellac-based wax, and stored at high RH. Only 2 hours of low RH storage were sufficient to induce peel pitting in `Fallglo' and `Marsh' after transfer to high RH. The severity of pitting in `Fallglo' tangerines was greater than in `Marsh' grapefruit. Weight loss of fruit at the end of low RH storage and peel pitting after 3 weeks of storage at high RH were significantly correlated. RH conditions in the field at the time of harvest affected susceptibility to peel pitting in both cultivars. Peel pitting was more severe when fruit were harvested at low field RH than high field RH when followed by treatments that induce peel pitting. The data suggest that harvesting susceptible cultivars at high RH, and minimizing exposure to low RH after harvest, could reduce the commercial impact of postharvest peel pitting.

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Guanfacine and clonidine were combined with ethephon or metsulfuron-methyl in the spray tank and applied as foliar sprays to Citrus sinensis L. Osb. `Valencia', Citrus madurensis Loureiro (calamondin), and Prunus persica `Elberta' to determine their effects on leaf loss, fruit detachment force (FDF), immature fruit loss, and twig dieback. In `Valencia' orange, `Elberta' peach and calamondin, guanfacine and clonidine effectively reduced ethephon-induced defoliation in all three tree species, whereas only guanfacine was effective with metsulfuron-methyl applications in `Valencia'. The ability of ethephon to reduce FDF in `Valencia' was only minimally impaired by guanfacine but not impaired by clonidine. Both guanfacine and clonidine diminished the capacity of metsulfuron-methyl to reduce FDF. Guanfacine reduced immature fruit loss of `Valencia' caused by metsulfuron-methyl and reduced twig-dieback. Leaf loss was reduced whether guanfacine or clonidine were applied with ethephon, or 24 hours or 17 days before ethephon application. Guanfacine and clonidine reduced leaf loss induced by continuous exposure of potted calamondin trees to ethylene, and leaf loss was similar with guanfacine and 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) treatments. In separate experiments, guanfacine and clonidine were unable to block ethylene perception in Arabidopsis seedlings and petunia flowers but promoted rooting in coleus and tomato vegetative cuttings, suggesting that these compounds have auxin-like activity. The results demonstrate the potential to enhance selectivity of abscission agents with guanfacine and clonidine. Chemical names used: 2-[(2,6-dichlorophenyl)amino]-2-imidazoline, clonidine; 5-chloro-3-methyl-4-nitro-pyrazole, CMN-P; [(2,6-dichlorophenyl)acetyl]guanidine, guanfacine; [(2-chloroethyl)phosphonic acid, ethephon; indole-3-butyric acid, IBA; 1-methylcyclopropene, 1-MCP.

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The effects of removal of young fruit and application of auxin transport inhibitors on endogenous indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) and abscisic acid (ABA) concentrations were examined in relation to the response of mature `Valencia' orange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osb.] fruit to abscission materials. ABA concentrations were increased in the fruit abscission zone and pulp but not in the pedicel, peel, or seed of mature fruit by removal of young fruit during the period of reduced response of mature fruit to abscission materials in early May. However, removal of young fruit slightly decreased IAA concentrations in leaves and the abscission zone and pedicel of mature fruit but had no effect on the IAA concentrations in the peel, pulp, or seed of mature fruit. Young fruit had higher IAA concentrations in the abscission zone and pedicel than mature fruit. Application of 2,3,5-triiodobenzoic acid (TIBA), an IAA transport inhibitor, reduced IAA concentrations in the abscission zone of mature fruit but did not influence the IAA concentrations in the pedicel and peel when applied directly to an absorbent collar tied around the pedicel 2 cm above the fruit abscission zone during the less responsive period in early May. ABA concentrations were increased drastically in the fruit abscission zone and pedicel but not in peel by TIBA application. Applications of ABA, or IAA transport inhibitors such as naringenin, quercetin, or TIBA comparably increased the response of mature fruit to the abscission material 5-chloro-3-methyl-4-nitro-1 H-pyrazole (CMN-pyrazole) in early May. These data suggest that young fruit reduce the response of mature `Valencia' oranges to abscission materials through increasing IAA concentrations and decreasing ABA concentrations in the abscission zone of mature `Valencia' orangees.

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An abscission agent [5-chloro-3-methyl-4-nitro-1H-pyrazole (CMNP)] was applied to `Hamlin' and `Valencia' orange (Citrus sinensis) trees at concentrations ranging from 0 to 500 ppm in a volume of 300 gal/acre. Four days after application, fruit were mechanically harvested with either a trunk shake-and-catch or a continuous canopy shake-and-catch system commercially used in Florida. Harvesting conditions were varied by limiting the actual trunk shake time of the trunk shaker to 2, 4, or 7 seconds, or by altering the ground speed of the canopy shaker (1.0, 1.5, or 2.0 mph). In general, increasing duration of shake and the application of CMNP increased percent mature fruit removal and decreased the amount of fruit remaining in the tree. Increasing CMNP concentration decreased fruit detachment force but increased post-spray fruit drop. Comparison of short duration shake times in CMNP-applied trees with trees harvested at longer durations either sprayed or not sprayed with CMNP indicated no significant difference in percent mature fruit removal. The results demonstrate that CMNP application increases harvesting capacity of trunk and canopy shakers by reducing time necessary to harvest each tree while maintaining high percent mature fruit removal.

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Fruit of 11 citrus cultivars were evaluated for their response to the experimental abscission material metsulfuron-methyl at 2 mg·L-1 (ppm) active ingredient as an aid to mechanical or hand harvest. Cultivars evaluated included `Ambersweet', `Glen Navel', `Hamlin', and `Valencia' oranges [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osb.], `Robinson' tangerine (Clementine × Orlando, C. reticulata Blanco), `Sunburst' tangerine [`Robinson' × `Osceola', C. reticulata × (C. paradisi Macf. × C. reticulata)], `Murcott' and `Temple' tangor (C. reticulata × C. sinensis), `Orlando' tangelo (C. reticulata × C. paradisi), `Ray Ruby', and `Marsh' grapefruit (C. paradisi). Six of the 11 cultivars were effectively loosened by sprays of metsulfuron-methyl (`Hamlin', `Valencia', `Orlando', `Murcott', `Temple', and `Ray Ruby'). Addition of an adjuvant (Kinetic, 0.125%) was necessary for abscission activity in fruit and leaves. Trees sprayed with metsulfuron-methyl in combination with an adjuvant had higher percent cumulative fruit drop, higher internal ethylene, and lower fruit detachment forces (FDF) than trees sprayed with metsulfuron-methyl alone. `Sunburst' tangerine responded poorly to the abscission material in the presence or absence of Kinetic. Leaf loss was greatest in trees sprayed with metsulfuron-methyl and adjuvant, intermediate in trees sprayed with metsulfuron-methyl alone, and least in control trees. Twig dieback was observed in trees of `Valencia' orange and `Marsh' grapefruit sprayed with metsulfuron-methyl. The peel of some cultivars had irregular coloration and developed pitted areas after harvest. Although metsulfuron-methyl is an effective abscission agent for mature citrus fruit, further work is needed to more accurately define conditions for its safe and dependable use.

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The use of abscission compounds to loosen fruit from stems can be accompanied with various levels of phytotoxicity. To determine the effects of a promising abscission compound, 5-chloro-3-methyl-4-nitro-1H-pyrazole (CMNP), and ethephon on sweet orange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck] leaf function, water relations, and young fruit growth, we sprayed CMNP at 0, 200, 500, 1000, or 2000 mg·L−1 or ethephon at 400 or 800 mg·L−1 to fruiting branches of potted and field-grown sweet orange during the 2005–06 harvest season. Both compounds induced abscission of mature fruit and leaves 3 days after application but had little effect on leaf chlorophyll content, water content, and midday leaf water potential (Ψleaf) of remaining leaves. CMNP sprayed at 200 mg·L−1 or either concentration of ethephon did not affect leaf photosystem II efficiency, as indicated by leaf chlorophyll fluorescence (Fv/Fm). High CMNP concentrations (1000 or 2000 mg·L−1) reduced Fv/Fm 1 day after treatment, but Fv/Fm of leaves remaining on sprayed branches gradually recovered to the level of control leaves by 4 days after treatment. Similarly, high concentrations of CMNP and ethephon temporarily reduced net gas exchange of leaves for about 4 days. Young fruit growth also was temporarily inhibited by CMNP concentrations greater than 200 mg·L−1. We conclude that CMNP sprayed at recommended concentrations (200–500 mg·L−1) caused mature fruit abscission with little long-term phytotoxic effect on leaves or young fruit.

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