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  • Author or Editor: Kimberley A. Cathline x
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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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