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  • Author or Editor: Matthew W. Fidelibus x
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In Florida, gibberellic acid (GA3) is applied to citrus in the late summer or early fall to reduce senescence-related peel disorders of fresh fruit and to increase juice yield of processing oranges. Heavy rainfall may occur daily during this time that could reduce the efficacy of GA3 sprays. Experiments were conducted in 1998-99 and 1999-2000 to test the effect of timed “wash off” treatments on the peel color and peel puncture resistance (PPR) of `Hamlin' orange (Citrus sinensis [L.] Osb.) fruit that were previously treated with GA3. In Oct. 1998 and 1999, the canopy of 14- or 15-year-old trees were sprayed to runoff (≈10 L) with GA3 (45 g a.i./ha) and a non-ionic surfactant (Silwet, 0.05%). For the next 4 (1998-99) or 5 (1999-2000) h, three different GA3-treated trees each hour were then sprayed with ≈20 L of tap water to simulate rainfall that might remove or dilute the GA3. An additional three trees did not receive a GA3 or a washoff treatment. Fruit were harvested in Nov. 1998 and Jan. 1999 and Dec. 1999 and Jan. 2000 and evaluated for PPR and color. Data were subjected to regression analysis to determine the relationship between peel variables and time until washoff. In 1998-99, PPR and peel hue (level of green color) increased linearly with time until washoff, indicating that some GA3 uptake was still occurring after 4 h. In 1999-2000, PPR and hue increased linearly until about 3 h before washoff. Therefore, heavy rainfall within 3 to 4 h of application may reduce GA3 effectiveness, even when a surfactant is used.

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Forchlorfenuron (CPPU), a synthetic cytokinin, applied after fruit set increases the size and firmness of table grapes (Vitis vinifera L.) beyond what is possible without CPPU treatment. However, treatment with CPPU may inhibit coloring of ‘Flame Seedless’ grapes, limiting its use in growing areas where color has been consistently poor. In contrast, application of abscisic acid (ABA) to ‘Flame Seedless’ grapes may cause fruit softening, which is undesirable, but its primary effect is to increase anthocyanin content and fruit color. Thus, we hypothesized that application of CPPU followed by ABA might increase the size and firmness of ‘Flame Seedless’ grapes without excessively inhibiting coloring. Grapes were treated with 0 or 20 g·ha−1 CPPU (applied at fruit set) and 0, 300, or 600 mg·L−1 ABA (applied at veraison) in 2005 and with 0, 5, 10, 15, or 20 g·ha−1 CPPU and 0, 200, 400, or 600 mg·L−1 ABA in 2006. Both plant growth regulators (PGRs) increased berry mass, but grapes treated with CPPU were as firm, or firmer, than nontreated grapes, whereas those treated with ABA were of similar or lesser firmness. Treatment with CPPU generally reduced soluble solids and red berry color, whereas treatment with ABA reduced titratable acidity and increased red color. The PGRs did not interact to affect any of the fruit quality variables measured, so beneficial effects of CPPU or ABA were apparent whether the grapes were treated with either or both PGRs. Thus, the combined use of CPPU and ABA may be a desirable cultural practice for ‘Flame Seedless’.

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Four AM fungal isolates (Glomus sp.) from disparate edaphic conditions were screened for effects on leaf gas exchange of `Volkamer' lemon (Citrus volkameriana Ten. and Pasq.) plants of similar size under conditions of increased soil water deficit stress and recovery from stress. Mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal plants were grown in 8-L containers for 10 weeks under well-watered conditions in a glasshouse and then subjected to three consecutive soil-drying episodes of increased severity (mean soil water tension reached –0.02, –0.06, and –0.08 MPa, respectively). Gas exchange measurements were made on the last day of each soil-drying episode. Plants were irrigated after each soil-drying episode, and measurements were repeated on the following 2 recovery days, when soil remained moist. All measurements were made at mid-day with a LI-COR 6200 portable photosynthesis system. The effect of AM fungi on leaf gas exchange fluxes varied depending on the isolate and the intensity of soil water stress. Leaf gas exchange fluxes always were highest for plants colonized by Glomus mosseae (Nicol. & Gerde.) isolate 114C, except during the third soil-drying episode, when all mycorrhizal plants had similar, and lower, gas exchange fluxes compared with non-mycorrhizal plants. During recovery from the third soil-drying episode, Glomus mosseae isolate 51C had lower leaf gas exchange fluxes compared with all other plants. Our results show that AM fungi can alter leaf gas exchange fluxes of citrus, under conditions of optimal P nutrition, in an isolate-specific manner.

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Gibberellic acid (GA3) increases juice yield of processing oranges, but results are inconsistent. Preliminary research suggested that this variability might be related to application timing. Therefore, we conducted an experiment to determine the optimal time to apply GA3 for increasing juice yield of `Hamlin', `Pineapple', and `Valencia' sweet oranges [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osb.]. Mature trees of each cultivar were sprayed with ≈10 L of a solution of GA3 (45 g·ha-1 a.i.) and organo-silicone surfactant (Silwet, 0.05%) between 2 Sept. and 9 Dec. 1998, and 25 Sept. and 9 Dec. 1999, or remained non-sprayed (control). Generally, the earliest application dates were most effective at maintaining peel puncture resistance above that of control fruit, while the latest application dates resulted in the most green peel color at harvest. Juice yield of `Hamlin' and `Valencia', but not `Pineapple', was increased by GA3 at some application timings and harvest dates in both years. The increase in juice yield was related to time between application and harvest; juice yield of `Hamlin' was greatest ≈2 months, and `Valencia' ≈5 months after GA3 application. Treated fruit often had lower juice Brix than non-sprayed fruit, a phenomenon that often paralleled treatment effects on peel color. When treatments did not increase juice yield but reduced juice Brix, then yield of solids was sometimes lower than for non-treated fruit. Treatments generally delayed flowering of `Pineapple' and `Valencia' but not `Hamlin'.

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Four AM fungal isolates (Glomus sp.) were screened for effects on growth of `Volkamer' lemon (Citrus volkameriana Ten. and Pasq.) under well-watered conditions. Plants were inoculated with an isolate of AM fungi, or non-inoculated. Non-mycorrhizal plants received more phosphorus (P) fertilizer than mycorrhizal plants because mycorrhizae enhance P uptake. Mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal plants were grown in 8-liter containers for 3 months in a glasshouse. Plants were then harvested, and root length colonized by mycorrhizal fungi, leaf P concentration, and plant growth were determined. Root length colonized by AM fungi differed among isolates; control plants were non-mycorrhizal. Leaf P concentration was in the optimal range for all plants; however, plants colonized by Glomus mosseae Isolate 51C had higher leaf P concentration than non-mycorrhizal plants. Plants colonized by Glomus AZ112 had higher leaf P concentration than all other plants. All plants had similar canopy leaf area, shoot length, and shoot dry mass. Plants colonized with AM fungi, except Glomus mosseae Isolate 51C, had longer root length and greater root dry mass than non-mycorrhizal plants. All mycorrhizal plants had lower shoot:root dry mass and leaf area:root length ratios than non-mycorrhizal plants. Our results showed that under optimal P nutrition and well-watered conditions, AM fungal isolates differentially altered the morphology of citrus plants by stimulating root growth.

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Poor coloration of red grapes grown in warm regions is a frequent problem that decreases production efficiency. Most table grape growers use ethephon to improve color, but its influence on color development is erratic, and it may reduce berry firmness. Application of S-abscisic acid (ABA) to grapes can increase the anthocyanins in their skins, but no protocols have been established regarding its potential commercial use. Therefore, we evaluated the effects of ABA and ethephon treatments on fruit quality characteristics, including those related to firmness and color, on `Flame Seedless' grapes (Vitis vinifera L.) in several experiments over three consecutive seasons. Abscisic acid had few effects on berry weight or juice composition, but it increased berry softening and skin anthocyanin concentrations. The effect of ABA on berry firmness was similar to ethephon. With respect to skin anthocyanin concentration and fruit color characteristics, 300 mg·L–1 ABA applied at veraison was superior to the other ABA concentrations and to ethephon applied at any of the times tested. Moreover, any concentration of ABA between 75 and 300 mg·L–1 applied after veraison improved color better than ethephon applied at the same time. There was a highly significant inverse curvilinear relationship between skin anthocyanin concentration and the lightness and hue of the berries. Anthocyanin concentrations between 0.01 and 0.04 mg·cm–2 had little effect on berry lightness and hue, so researchers should consider measuring color, not just anthocyanins, when evaluating the quality of red table grapes.

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Effective abscission agents that decrease fruit detachment force (FDF) are sought by the California raisin industry to improve the continuous tray mechanical harvesting method. Such agents might also enable mechanical harvest of table and wine grapes (Vitis vinifera L.), but few agents are known to be effective for grape. Thus, methyl jasmonate (MeJA) and six other compounds known to stimulate abscission of other fruits were screened for their ability to reduce FDF of mature ‘Thompson Seedless’ grapes. Most compounds tested reduced FDF to some extent, but MeJA was particularly effective. Solutions containing between 45 and 4500 ppm MeJA reduced FDF by at least 50% to 85% compared with nontreated fruits. Application of 2250 and 4500 ppm MeJA to ‘Thompson Seedless’ vines caused 25% to 50% fruit drop, respectively, within 10 d after treatment (DAT). The efficacy of MeJA was verified in a second experiment in which solutions of 0, 1125, 2250, or 4500 ppm MeJA were applied to clusters of ‘Crimson Seedless’ grapes; at 14 DAT, FDF declined as a linear function of MeJA applied. The grapes did not abscise, but berries treated with 2250 to 4500 ppm MeJA had slightly lower soluble solids than nontreated fruits. Solutions of 0 or 4500 ppm MeJA applied to clusters of ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’ and ‘Merlot’ grapevines reduced FDF by 66% and 75%, respectively. Fruit drop was estimated to be less than 10%. Thus, a solution containing up to 4500 ppm MeJA may be an effective abscission agent to facilitate mechanical harvest of ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’ or ‘Merlot’.

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The application of methyl jasmonate (MeJA) to grapes (Vitis vinifera L.) may decrease fruit detachment force (FDF) and promote the development of dry stem scars on the berries, both of which could improve the quality of machine-harvested raisin grapes. However, treatment with MeJA also promotes preharvest fruit drop, which is undesirable. Thus, experiments were conducted to determine how the concentration of MeJA applied and time after treatment affect FDF and abscission of grapes. Mature ‘Thompson Seedless’ grapevines were treated with one of five different solutions containing 0, 0.2, 2, 10, or 20 mm MeJA, and FDF and fruit abscission were monitored for ≈2 weeks. Treatment with 2 mm or less MeJA had inconsistent effects on FDF and did not promote abscission, whereas treatment with 10 to 20 mm MeJA reduced FDF within 2 to 3 days after treatment (DAT) and promoted abscission, which began on ≈3 DAT and persisted for ≈8 DAT. Thus, to optimize the use of MeJA as a harvest aid for ‘Thompson Seedless’ may require application of between 2 and 10 mm MeJA followed by harvest within 3 DAT.

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