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- Author or Editor: Nadia A. Valverdi x
‘Honeycrisp’ apple is susceptible to bitter pit, which is associated with fruit mineral nutrient composition. Rootstock genotypes can affect nutrient acquisition, distribution, and fruit yields, which all affect fruit nutrient composition and bitter pit susceptibility. However, the changes of these traits among different rootstock genotypes in response to abiotic stress under semiarid conditions are relatively unknown. The objective of this study was to evaluate the influence of different rootstocks and irrigation on nutrient uptake and partitioning with ‘Honeycrisp’ apple grown in an irrigated, semiarid environment. ‘Honeycrisp’ apple trees were grafted on four different rootstocks, Geneva 41 (‘G.41’), Geneva 890 (‘G.890’), M.9-T337 (‘M.9’), and Budagovsky 9 (‘B.9’), and these were planted at high density (3000 trees/ha). Irrigation was applied as either a water-limited treatment where volumetric soil water content was maintained near 50% field capacity (FC) and a well-watered control where soil water content was maintained near 100% FC. ‘G.890’, the most vigorous rootstock, had lower nitrogen and higher potassium content in leaves, while ‘B.9’, the least vigorous rootstock, had lower potassium and higher nitrogen content. Rootstock genotype did not affect calcium uptake. Interestingly, water-limited conditions increased the nutrient content in root and stems but not in leaves. Water-limited trees partitioned more nitrogen and calcium to roots, while well-watered trees in the control partitioned more nutrients to the stems. Fruit size was the largest for ‘G.890’ and smallest for ‘B.9’. Both ‘G.41’ and ‘G.890’ had higher bitter pit incidence, which was associated with higher potassium content in leaves and fruit. These results suggest that rootstock-induced vigor and irrigation can both contribute to nutrient imbalances in leaves and fruit that could affect the development of physiological disorders in ‘Honeycrisp’ apple.
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.