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  • Author or Editor: Mark Ritenour x
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Activity of phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL) is critical in the induction of russet spotting (RS) in leaves of Iceberg lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.). RS is a major postharvest disorder of lettuce caused by exposure to ppm levels of ethylene at = 5C. Both PAL and RS are decreased when lettuce tissue previously exposed to ethylene is stored at = 15C or is transferred from = 5C to = 15C. To study the induction and inactivation of PAL, we exposed lettuce leaves to air ± 10 ppm ethylene at 5C for four days to initially induce high PAL levels. After four days, leaves were treated with water ± 2 mg/L cycloheximide, and transferred to air at 5 or 15 C. In leaves previously exposed to ethylene, PAL activity decreased rapidly to baseline levels within two days in non-cycloheximide treated leaves transferred to 15C. PAL activity remain elevated in the same treatment held at 5C. In leaves treated with cycloheximide and transferred to 15C, PAL did not begin to decrease until after four days. Cycloheximide treated leaves held at 5C showed increased PAL activity both two and four days after treatment.

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Some apple growers place specially designed bags with liners around fruit in the field to produce a unique surface color required by some premium markets. However, heat damage has been observed on `Fuji' apples that were bagged and reached high temperatures in the field. We tested different colored apple bags and their liners to determine the amount of light that is transmitted and whether bag color affected heating of the apples inside. Apple bags and liners were very effective at screening out sunlight; however, the absorbed light substantially warmed the bags and apples inside. No UV-A or B and less than 1% of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) passed through the outer bag regardless of bag color and the inner liners transmitted ≈9% of the UV-A, 3% of the UV-B, and 30% of the PAR. When ambient air temperatures were only ≈25°C, dark green bags or red or green liners warmed the sun-facing apple surface to ≈43°C, while light green bags warmed to ≈36°C. Wrapping apple bags in aluminum foil to increase bag reflectivity greatly reduced heat buildup and maintained sun-facing fruit surface temperatures only slightly above air temperature (≈27°C). Possible design improvements for apple bags used in hot, sunny climates will be discussed.

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Adjacent but separate trials of `Oroblanco' and `Melogold', both triploid pummelo [Citrus grandis (L.) Osbeck] × grapefruit (Citrus paradisi Macf.) hybrids, were established on nine rootstocks in the Indian River citrus region of Florida in 1993. The trees on the citrandarin rootstock ×639 [Cleopatra mandarin (C. reticulata Blanco) × trifoliate orange (Poncirus trifoliata L.)] were significantly more productive than trees on any other rootstock tested for `Oroblanco' and all rootstocks except Swingle citrumelo (C. paradisi × P. trifoliata) and Cleopatra mandarin for `Melogold'. Cumulative production of `Oroblanco' on ×639, through year 9, was 50% higher than for Swingle or Volkamer lemon [C. limon (L.)], which were the next highest in yield. `Melogold' displayed extremely low yield, with 45% of trees producing fewer than 50 fruit total in the 9 years of this study. Carrizo citrange (C. sinensis Osbeck × P. trifoliata) produced the smallest trees with both scion varieties, reflecting poor adaptation of this rootstock to the calcareous soil at the trial site. As expected, acidity of `Oroblanco' and `Melogold' was much lower than would be observed for grapefruit when fall harvested, with similar total soluble solids (TSS), and much higher TSS: titratable acidity ratio. Some rootstock effects on internal quality were observed.

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The trunk diameter of ‘Valencia’ sweet orange trees tested with seven insect control strategies was measured annually for the first 5 years after planting. Yield data (marketable fruit per tree) were collected after the fourth and fifth years. The insect control treatments were Admire (imidacloprid) applied at 12, 6, 3, or 2-month intervals; Temik (aldicarb) applied annually; Meta-Systox-R (oxydemeton-methyl) applied annually; or no insect control. Trunk diameter was significantly increased by Temik treatment at 1 and 2 years after planting. Six annual applications of Admire (at 2-month intervals) significantly increased trunk diameter 2 years after planting. None of the other treatments affected trunk diameters compared with the control. There were no trunk diameter differences among treatments at 3, 4, or 5 years after planting. Both Temik applied annually and Admire applied every other month or every 3 months significantly increased yield.

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Warm field temperatures can often result in poor peel color of some citrus varieties, especially early in the harvest season. Under these conditions, Florida oranges, temples, tangelos, and K-Early citrus fruit are allowed to be treated with Citrus Red No.2 dye (CR2) to help produce a more acceptable peel color. Unfortunately, CR2, the commercial colorant used in Florida, has been listed as a group 2B carcinogen by the European Union (EU) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Although not likely dangerous at levels used on citrus, and on a part of the fruit that is not ingested, there is a negative health perception, and thus, a need for natural or food grade alternative colorants to replace CR2 for use on citrus. This research demonstrated that three out of five oil-soluble natural red/orange colorants resulted in peel colors somewhat similar to the industry standard CR2. These three (annatto extract, paprika extract, and paprika oleoresin) were selected for further in vivo studies. The stability of the natural colorants along with CR2 was evaluated by applying them on test papers and then on fresh ‘Hamlin’ oranges. All natural colorants were found to be easily oxidized and faded when applied on test papers. However, coating the colored surfaces with carnauba wax apparently inhibited oxidation and the subsequent discoloration of the surface. When applying the natural colorants to ‘Hamlin’ oranges before waxing, the treatments retained the improved color after storage in the dark at 5 °C, simulating cold storage. However, only annatto extract maintained a stable color when subsequently stored in a simulated market condition, at 23 °C exposed to 300 lx of standard fluorescent white light.

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In Florida, early season citrus fruits usually reach full maturity in terms of internal quality while their peel often does not turn to orange color after degreening due to insufficient buildup of carotenoids. For huanglongbing (HLB)-affected orange trees, the fruit may never turn orange during the entire harvest season, despite any cold weather. Improvement of early season citrus peel color is important to the citrus industry to better meet consumer expectations. Occasionally, packinghouses apply a dye, Citrus Red No. 2 (CR2), to improve the surface color of oranges, temples, and tangelos before applying a fruit wax to impart shine, retain moisture, and slow fruit senescence. In a previous report, we determined that paprika and annatto extracts are comparable to CR2 as natural colorant alternatives. In this research, the goal was to formulate a natural colorant [annatto, paprika, or paprika oleoresin (PO)]-containing carnauba wax coating. The coatings were first evaluated for color, shine, moisture retention, respiration rate, ethylene production, and internal gas content. Control fruit were coated with carnauba wax alone, or dyed with CR2 then coated with carnauba wax. The effects were assessed under different temperature and light exposure conditions to simulate commercial storage and marketing. The results showed that a one-step application of paprika-containing carnauba wax was comparable to the two-step (“CR2 then wax”) applications in improving fruit appearance and modification of internal gas composition.

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Citrus black spot (CBS) is a fungal disease caused by Phyllosticta citricarpa (synonym Guignardia citricarpa). CBS causes fruit lesions and significant yield loss in all citrus (Citrus) species. The most distinguishing CBS symptom is called hard spot, which is a circular lesion with gray tissue at the center surrounded by a black margin. The spectral characteristic of CBS lesions was investigated and compared with the spectral signature of healthy fruit tissue to determine the best distinguishing wave band. Healthy and CBS-affected samples presented similar reflectance below 500 nm and above 900 nm. However, healthy samples reflected more light between 500 and 900 nm, especially within the visible band. Also, spectral reflectance of the same symptomatic lesion was acquired six times over a 2-month period to determine the variation of symptom’s spectral signatures over time after being harvested. A two-sample t test was employed to compare each pair of consecutive repetitions. The results showed that the spectral signature of the CBS lesion did not change significantly over 2 months. The wavelengths between 587 and 589 nm were identified as the distinguishing band to develop a monochrome vision–based sensor for CBS diagnosis. A support vector machine (SVM) classifier was trained using the spectral reflectance data at the selected bands to identify CBS-affected samples in each repetition. The overall CBS detection accuracies varied between 93.3% and 94.6%.

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Quaternary ammonia (QA) has been used on equipment and fruit bins in Florida to reduce the risk of spreading citrus canker. This study was initiated to understand the cause of a previously unknown peel injury believed to be associated with QA residues. Symptoms of QA injury on `Marsh' grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) usually developed within 24 to 36 h of contact with QA and ranged in severity from very slight discoloration to severe, dark brown, necrotic peel tissue that collapsed to form large sunken areas. Placing fruit in 10 mL (0.34 floz) of ≥100 mg·L-1 (ppm) fresh QA solution caused moderate to severe peel injury. Drying the QA solutions on polystyrene petri dishes and then redissolving the residue with 10 mL deionized water before fruit contact resulted in essentially the same degree of peel injury as contact with fresh QA solutions. Peel injury on early (November) or late-season (April) grapefruit also occurred when fruit were placed on a thin film of QA solution left on polystyrene petri dishes after dipping the dishes in ≥300 mg·L-1 QA solutions or if fruit themselves were dipped in QA solutions ≥500 mg·L-1. No significant peel injury occurred when dipping solutions contained only water with 200 mg·L-1 chlorine, 0.025% (v/v) Triton N-101, or a combination of both.

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Heat treatments and exposure to elevated CO2 are known to reduce the incidence of chilling injury on grapefruit. In the current study, `Marsh' grapefruit (Citrus paradisi Macf.) were harvested on 17 Jan. or 22 Mar. 1996 and exposed to hot water (HW) dips (48 °C for 120 minutes) or exposed to controlled atmosphere (CA) of 10% or 16% CO2 during the first 3 weeks of an 8-week cold storage period (4.5 °C) to test their effects on the development of peel pitting (i.e., chilling injury) and proline and other compositional changes of the peel and juice. All HW and CA treatments from both harvests greatly reduced the development of peel pitting compared to the control. These treatments were also associated with lower average proline levels in the flavedo during storage. This suggests that HW and elevated CO2 may reduce chilling-induced peel pitting by facilitating proline metabolism in grapefruit flavedo tissue. HW and CA treatments resulted in higher peel total soluble and nonreducing sugar levels, but effects on peel reducing sugar and free amino acid concentrations were not consistent. In the juice, HW reduced titratable acidity (TA) concentrations while CA tended to increase both TA and ascorbic acid concentrations. Compared to the control, CA resulted in a slight decrease in total soluble solids during storage, while the effect of HW was inconsistent.

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During the past 5 years, we have investigated the relationship between cherry skin color stages (light red, 50% bright red, 100% bright, and dark red) measured at harvest and harvest/shipping quality for `Brooks', `Tulare', and `King' cultivars. This relationship was studied with fruit grown in different geographic locations within the San Joaquin Valley (SJV). SSC increased, but titratable acidity levels did not change as cherries matured to the dark skin color. The perception of sweetness, sourness, and cherry flavor by a trained taste panel was related to the different cherry skin color stages. Dark red color developed on cherries picked at earlier color stages after simulated shipment. Pitting and stem browning were the main market life limitations. Pitting, stem browning, and decay were higher on cherries picked at the dark and 100% bright red colors than cherries picked at earlier stages.

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