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  • Author or Editor: Michelle Reid x
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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.

Free access

In semiarid apple (Malus domestica) growing regions, high temperatures and excessive solar radiation can increase the risk of sunburn development. Protective netting is increasingly used as a cultural practice under these conditions to mitigate fruit sunburn losses. However, fruit skin color development can be negatively affected under protective nets due to the reduction in light availability. Reflective groundcovers have been previously reported to increase fruit color development, particularly in the inner parts of the tree canopy. Here, we compared two types of reflective groundcover: a woven polyethylene fabric and a film material with a grassed control without reflective material under a protective netting installation that reduced photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) by 17%. The experiment was conducted in a semiarid climate on a 5-year-old ‘Cameron Select Honeycrisp’ apple orchard near Quincy, WA. Light penetration into the canopy was measured with a PAR sensor. At harvest, fruit quality, yield, and size were assessed. The use of reflective groundcover between the rows significantly increased reflected PAR into the lower canopy. Moreover, reflective groundcovers significantly increased the amount of fruit with greater than 25% skin red color compared with the control. Reflective groundcover did not affect fruit weight, yield, and fruit number. The use of reflective groundcover under protective netting can increase light penetration into the canopy, thereby improving fruit skin red coloration in apple.

Open Access