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Jorge B. Retamales and Claudio Valdes

Bitter pit is the most important physiological disorders for apples in Chile. During the 1995–96 season, the predictive capacity of bitter pit through magnesium infiltration of the fruit in commercial orchards of three locations in South Central Chile: San Fernando (SF), Curico (CU), and San Javier (SJ) was established. Three orchards were chosen in each location and for each cultivar; fruit were collected 60, 40, and 20 days before commercial harvest. Fruit were infiltrated for 2 min with magnesium chloride at 0.05 M using vacuum levels of 500 or 100 mm Hg for `Granny Smith' and `Braeburn', respectively. The predictive capacity (correlation between predicted and effective bitter pit—after 90 days at 2°C + 10 days at 18°C) increased closer to harvest; with regards to location: SF > CU > SJ. Bitter pit-like symptoms, caused by Mg infiltration stabilized 16 days after infiltration. Bitter pit incidence was better predicted than severity. Bitter pit was better predicted for `Granny Smith' than for `Braeburn'.

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Jorge B. Retamales, Claudio Valdes, and Verónica Donoso

Bitter pit (BP) is the main physiological disorder of apples in Chile. Its incidence affects pre- and postharvest handling of the fruit and the profitability of this species. Since 1991, its control and prediction have been studied by this research team through field and laboratory trials. The BP incidence is linked to the fruit Ca concentration; however, fruit Ca analysis has not adequately predicted BP incidence in postharvest. Several authors have proposed Ca/Mg antagonism, which has been the basis to develop a predictive method through fruit Mg infiltration (IMG) 40 days before harvest. IMG has been massively used for two seasons in Chile, with 375 samples processed in 1997 and 1170 in 1998. The industry has been increasing its proportion of the samples processed, from 22% in 1997 to 71% in 1998. The most prominent varieties are `Granny Smith' (GS) > `Braeburn' (BR) > `Royal Gala' (RG) > `Red King Oregon' (RKO). The massive use of IMG has obtained predictive capacities (r 2 between BP predicted and BP after 3 months regular cold storage) of 0.8 for `Fuji'; 0.7 for GS, BR, and RG; and 0.58 for RKO. (This reduction in the predictive capacity with regards to the previous research under controlled conditions would, in part, be due to problems in obtaining fruit samples: non-uniform fruit size, inadequate sampling dates, diverse fruit numbers, etc.) Developments are underway to increase the geographical coverage of the service, the predictive capacity of the method for certain cultivars and productive areas and the number of samples processed.