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  • Author or Editor: Gregory van der Heijden x
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Lee Kalcsits, Gregory van der Heijden, Michelle Reid, and Katie Mullin

Calcium (Ca) sprays are commonly used to control Ca-related disorders such as bitter pit in apple. Increases in the frequency and the amount of Ca applied directly to the fruit have increased fruit Ca levels and are associated with a reduction in bitter pit incidence. However, the absorption efficiency at different fruit developmental stages is poorly understood. Here, the absorption efficiency was measured using 44Ca stable isotope applied to 30 individual fruit at five different times every 2 weeks between June drop and 2 weeks before harvest in a medium-density ‘Honeycrisp’ orchard. Fruit size, spray adhesion, and Ca and potassium (K) content were monitored weekly for 12 weeks between 26 May and 13 Aug. 2015. At harvest, the 44Ca-labeled fruit was picked and separated into peel and inner fruit for mass balance analysis of 44Ca absorption to regions of the fruit that are important to prevent Ca-related disorders. As expected, δ44Ca was greater in the peel than the interior of the fruit. However, there was a significant amount of 44Ca present in the inner fruit at harvest for all five applications applied during the growing season. Using a stable isotope tracer approach, we present evidence that Ca is absorbed throughout fruit development. These findings support current recommendations for frequent Ca applications in low concentrations throughout fruit development to increase fruit Ca levels and reduce the incidence of bitter pit in ‘Honeycrisp’ apple.