‘Honeycrisp’ apple is susceptible to the postharvest chilling disorder soft scald that renders fruit unmarketable. Reducing or preventing this disorder is an important component of ‘Honeycrisp’ postharvest management. In commercial settings, advanced fruit maturity and orchard history contribute to an estimation of soft scald susceptibility, but additional at-harvest information indicative of soft scald risk would enable better management decisions. In this study, we obtained fruit from commercial orchards for 3 successive years, and assessed field growing degree days (GDD), field chilling hours (CH), and fruit quality metrics at harvest, followed by soft scald incidence assessment at 12 weeks of cold storage. The analyses indicated starch index, soluble solids content (SSC), internal ethylene concentration, titratable acidity (TA), peel background color, firmness, GDD, or CH do not reliably indicate fruit susceptibility to soft scald. However, SSC and TA were elevated in fruit that later developed soft scald, and a higher number of GDD also sometimes preceded soft scald, which is consistent with advanced fruit maturity that can enhance soft scald risk. Overall, results suggest that other tools may be required to accurately predict postharvest soft scald on a quality control laboratory scale. The statistical analyses applied to the present study would have utility for assessing other soft scald prediction tools or markers.
Rachel Leisso, Ines Hanrahan, and Jim Mattheis
Sara Serra, Rachel Leisso, Luca Giordani, Lee Kalcsits, and Stefano Musacchi
The apple variety, ‘Honeycrisp’ has been extensively planted in North America during the last two decades. However, it suffers from several agronomic problems that limit productivity and postharvest quality. To reduce losses, new information is needed to better describe the impact of crop load on productivity and postharvest fruit quality in a desert environment and the major region where ‘Honeycrisp’ expansion is occurring. Here, 7-year-old ‘Honeycrisp’ trees on the M9-Nic29 rootstock (2.5 × 0.9 m) were hand thinned to five different crop loads [from 4.7 to 16.0 fruit/cm2 of trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA)] to compare fruit quality, maturity, fruit size, elemental concentration, and return bloom. Fruit size distribution was affected by crop load. Trees with the highest crop load (16 fruit/cm2) produced smaller fruit. Index of absorbance difference (I AD) measurements (absorption difference between 670 and 720 nm), a proxy indicator of the chlorophyll content below the skin of fruit measured by a DA-meter, were made shortly after harvest (T0) and after 6 months of storage (T1). Fruit from the trees with the lowest crop load had lower I AD values indicating advanced fruit ripeness. The comparison between the I AD classes at T0 and T1 showed that fruit belonging to the lowest I AD class had significantly higher red-blushed overcolor percentage, firmness, dry matter, and soluble solid content than those in the “most unripe” class (highest I AD readings) regardless of crop load. The percentage of blushed color, firmness, titratable acidity (TA), soluble solids content, and dry matter were all higher in the lowest crop loads at both T0 and T1. Fruit calcium (Ca) concentration was lowest at the lowest crop load. The (K + Mg + N):Ca ratio decreased as crop load increased until a crop load of 11.3 fruit/cm2, which was not significantly different from higher crop loads. For return bloom, the highest number of flower clusters per tree was reported for 4.7 fruit/cm2 crop load, and generally it decreased as crop load increased. Here, we highlight the corresponding changes in fruit quality, storability, and elemental balance with tree crop load. To maintain high fruit quality and consistency in yield, careful crop load management is required to minimize bienniality and improve fruit quality and storability.
Rachel Leisso, Bridgid Jarrett, and Zachariah Miller
Haskap (Lonicera caerulea), also known as honeyberry, is a relatively new fruit crop in North America. To date, most academic activity and research in North America involving haskap has focused on cultivar development and health benefits, with relatively few field experiments providing information to guide field planning and harvest management for the recently released cultivars. In 2020, we documented preharvest fruit drop (PHFD) rates for 15 haskap cultivars planted in a randomized block design at our research center in western Montana with the aim of preliminarily determining whether certain cultivars may be prone to this phenomenon. Additionally, we evaluated two plant growth regulators (PGRs) to reduce PHFD in two cultivars previously observed to have high rates of PHFD. Results suggest cultivar-specific variations in PHFD near berry maturation. Because haskap harvest indices are not well-defined and may be cultivar-specific, we share our 1-year study results as preliminary information and as a call for further research. Cultivars Aurora, Boreal Blizzard, Borealis, Indigo Gem, Kapu, and Tana all had PHFD rates less than 12% of yield, where yield is the weight of berries lost to PHFD plus marketable yield and marketable yield is fruit remaining on the shrub at harvest. Cultivars Chito, Kawai, and Taka had the highest rates of PHFD, although marketable yields were still relatively high, especially for Kawai. We note that ease of fruit detachment is an important consideration in mechanical harvest, and this characteristic could be advantageous if managed appropriately. The PGRs evaluated (1-napthaleneacetic acid and aminoethoxyvinylglycine) did not influence PHFD rates; however, our study was limited by the sample size and by the lack of information regarding haskap abscission physiology. In summary, the haskap cultivars evaluated exhibited variable PHFD rates in the year of the study, and further research is needed to understand haskap fruit maturation, harvest indices, and abscission.
Rachel S. Leisso, Ines Hanrahan, James P. Mattheis, and David R. Rudell
The physiology and metabolism characterizing postharvest chilling and CO2 injury in apple has important implications for postharvest management of soft scald and soggy breakdown. This research assessed differences of primary metabolism related to soggy breakdown (cortex CI) and CO2 cortex injury in ‘Honeycrisp’ apple fruit. Results indicate that prestorage temperature conditioning, diphenylamine (DPA), and CA treatments alter fruit metabolism and affect peel and cortex storage disorder outcome. A preliminary summary of primary metabolism involved with soggy breakdown under high CO2 includes increased activity in glycolysis/gluconeogenesis, propionate metabolism, and alanine, aspartate, and glutamate metabolism.
Rachel Leisso, Bridgid Jarrett, Katrina Mendrey, and Zachariah Miller
Codling moth (Cydia pomonella) is a major insect pest of apple (Malus domestica). If unmanaged, then codling moth can infest nearly all apples in an orchard, where the flesh-tunneling larva leave frass-laden tracks in the fruit. Insecticide-based management requires accurate application timing (typically based on adult moth and/or degree-day monitoring) and multiple spray applications. Both the season-long commitment to codling moth monitoring and management and limited familiarity with insecticides, application tools, and proper application procedures can prevent a small-scale or backyard grower from effectively limiting fruit damage. In addition, an increasing segment of growers is interested in nonchemical alternatives. Bagging fruitlets early in the season could be a simple and effective method of codling moth management for this subset of growers. At our research orchard in Corvallis, MT, we tested a method combining fruit thinning and bagging using plastic bags the first season and nylon bags the second season. Plastic bags reduced the incidence of codling moth damage to fruit from 34% to 10%, but european earwig (Forficula auricularia) frass, which was found in more than 50% of plastic-bagged apples, made harvesting the fruit unappealing. We tested nylon fruit bags during the second year of the study. These bags did not significantly reduce the incidence of codling moth. Both the soluble solids content and titratable acidity were higher in unbagged fruit during the second year of the study, whereas color measurements indicated bagged fruit were greener on the shaded side of the fruit. Failure of the nylon bags may have been attributable to eggs laid before bagging, eggs laid or larva burrowing through bagging, or improper bag application methods. Further research could assess whole-tree bags, the addition of rubber bands or twist ties when applying nylon bags, pretreatment of fruit with horticulture oil, and/or dipping nylon bags in kaolin clay before application; however, these steps add time and increase costs, which may discourage the small-scale fruit grower. Overall, results indicate that fruit bagging holds promise for codling moth management; however, further work is needed to optimize the methodology.