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  • Author or Editor: Oscar Liburd x
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The use of paper or nylon bags (fruit bagging) to surround tree fruit during development provides protection from a variety of pest-disease complexes for peach without yield reduction and different-colored bags have the potential to improve fruit quality based on findings from other crops. An experiment was conducted in 2019 at two locations in central Florida on peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batch] ‘TropicBeauty’ and ‘UFSun’ to analyze the impact of a commercially available white paper fruit bag combined with a photoselective insert. The insert reduced the amount of light outside the spectrum range of interest for blue (400–500 nm), green (500–600 nm), or red (>600 nm) wavebands, or decreased fluence rate with a neutral density black (>725 nm) insert. Relative to ambient, temperature inside all bagging treatments during the daytime hours was increased by 5.1 °C. During the same time, relative humidity was reduced by 10.1%, but calculations revealed that the water vapor pressure was elevated only for treatments that had a plastic colored (blue, green, or red) insert. An orthogonal contrast revealed that the elevated water vapor around the fruit in a colored bag increased the concentration of chlorophyll at harvest but had no effect on other quality parameters. Compared with unbagged fruit, red-bagged fruit were 1.8 times firmer and green-bagged fruit and had a lower peel chroma. White-bagged (without photoselective insert) fruit had similar nutrient concentrations for the peel, flesh, and pit when compared with unbagged fruit. When bags remained on the fruit until harvest, anthocyanin concentration in unbagged fruit peel was double the amount in white bags and 6-fold more than the bags with color inserts. Different-colored bagging treatments did not influence insect attraction or fruit quality parameters, such as fruit size, diameter, difference of absorbance (DA) index, total soluble solids (TSS), titratable acidity (TA), pH, peel lightness, peel hue, flesh lightness, flesh hue, or flesh chroma. Relative to full sun, the colored bag treatments allowed between 3.7% (black) and 17.4% (red) of the photosynthetically active radiation (PAR). Additional research is needed to determine if an increase in fluence rate at specific spectral wavelengths can affect the quality for peach grown in bags in the field.

Open Access

Georgia has an excellent window for organic blueberry production since much of the crop ripens ahead of production in the northern U.S. Major challenges facing Georgia organic blueberry growers are weed control, organic fertilization, insect control and disease control. A team of Georgia growers, extension agents and scientists are working together to solve these production problems. Since 2002 a series of experiments have been conducted on blueberry establishment and maintenance. Various mulch materials were tested. On young plants, pine straw produced the highest yields, but pine bark and landscape fabric were also successful. With the pine straw treatment, a respectable yield of 0.97 kg/plant occurred 24 months after planting. In addition, a bed shaper–plastic mulch layer was modified by developing a removable center. Using this system, beds are formed, plants are mechanically transplanted, plants are pruned to 75 mm, and plastic is then pulled over the stem. This produces a fairly tight fit around the stem and a nearly weed free system except for weeds growing from the edges. On mature plants, pine bark and wheat straw were tested. Wheat straw produced excellent weed control and improved blueberry growth in year one and two. However, pine bark mulch provided the best weed control in year three. Various organic burn down compounds such as vinegar, Xpress, Alldown, and Matran 2 were tested for winter weed control efficacy. In these trials Matran 2 was the most effective, and the product also performed well on woody weeds that were winter pruned, allowed to resprout and then treated. A propane torch was also tested, but discarded because of the fire hazard. Entrust insecticide was tested for thrips control and gibberellic acid for fruit set. Thrips populations were low, so no effect on fruit set was noted from Entrust. Gibberellic acid significantly improved fruit set.

Free access

Fruit bagging is an acceptable cultural practice for organic production that provides a physical barrier to protect fruit. It can reduce pest and pathogen injury for a variety of fruit crops, but quality attributes have been inconsistent for peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] and other bagged fruit. A 2-year experiment on a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic-certified peach orchard in central Florida was conducted to analyze the effects of a commercially available paper bag designed for fruit protection and cardinal quadrant (north, south, east, and west sides) of the tree canopy on low-chill peach ‘TropicBeauty’ fruit quality. Protective bags appeared to delay fruit maturity. Flesh firmness and chlorophyll concentration of bagged fruit were 31% and 27% greater than unbagged fruit, respectively. Bagged fruit were protected as demonstrated with a reduction in mechanical injury by 95%, fruit fly injury by 450%, and scab-like lesions by 810%. Bagging reduced fruit brown rot (Monilinia fructicola) at harvest and 7 days after harvest; unbagged fruit were 2 and 3.5 times more likely to have rot at harvest and 7 days after harvest, respectively. Fruit bags did not affect yield, fruit size, total soluble solids, titratable acidity, pH, peel lightness, peel hue angle, or flesh color. Overall, canopy cardinal quadrant location had minimal effect on fruit quality or fruit injury. These results demonstrate that bagging peach fruit protects against various pests and diseases but has minimal effects on fruit quality. Broad adoption of this technology is highly dependent on available labor, market demands, and profitability but may be suitable for producers using direct-to-consumer market channels.

Open Access