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  • Author or Editor: Simó Alegre x
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The effects of covering the orchard floor with Extenday™ or Solarmate™ reflective films on fruit color, fruit quality, canopy light distribution, orchard temperature, and profitability of ‘Mondial Gala’ apples (Malus ×domestica) were evaluated over a 3-year period (2000–02) at Lleida (northeastern Spain). Reflective film was laid down 5 weeks before commercial harvest. Photosynthetically active radiation in the lowest part of the tree (1 m aboveground level) increased by 34% and 56%, for Solarmate™ and Extenday™ films, respectively, compared with the control. Fruit color, measured with a portable tristimulus colorimeter, significantly increased on both sides of the fruit (with lower values of L* and hue) when using the film. A higher proportion of red blush over the fruit surface was observed for the fruit in the film treatments. Based on the fruit size and color required to meet European Union grade standards, the use of Extenday™ or Solarmate™ resulted in an increase of 26% and 17%, respectively, when compared with the control, for the number of fruit picked at first harvest. Season clearly affected fruit color development, whereas harvest date, fruit firmness, fruit size, soluble solid concentration, titratable acidity, and maturity were not consistently affected by the use of reflective film. Despite the advance in fruit color, the starch score did not appear to be affected by the use of film. Based on current fruit prices for the study period, both types of film increased orchard profitability compared with the control, but the long-term benefit of this technique will largely depend on fruit prices.

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Productive and vegetative tree responses were analyzed during 3 consecutive years in peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch cv. Sudanell] plots subjected to three regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) strategies plus a control irrigation treatment. A postharvest RDI treatment (RDI-P) was irrigated at 0.35 of control after harvest. A Stage II RDI treatment (RDI-SII) was irrigated at 0.5 of control during the lag phase of the fruit growth curve. The third treatment (RDI-SII-P) applied RDI during Stage II at 0.5 of control and postharvest at 0.35 of control. The control treatment, like RDI-P and RDI-SII-P when not receiving RDI, was irrigated at 100% of a water budget irrigation scheduling in 1994 and 1996, full crop years, and 80% of the budget in 1995, an off year with a very small crop. A carry-over effect of deficit irrigation was highly significant in all parameters measured during the third year of the experiment. The general effect of water stress during Stage II did not affect return bloom and fruit set, whereas water stress during postharvest apparently reduced both parameters. As a consequence, fruit counts and fruit load manifested marked differences between treatments, which were also correlated to changes in fruit size. The RDI-II, which had the highest fruit yield, also had the smallest fruit size, whereas RDI-P manifested the lowest yield and largest fruit size. Vegetative growth (shoot elongation and trunk cross sectional area) was significantly reduced during the first 2 years of the experiment in accordance with the amount of the irrigation reduction. However, in 1996 growth was strongly governed by fruit load. The use of RDI-SII-P represented an intermediate cropping effect between the opposite bearing behavior of RDI-SII and RDI-P, while not expecting distinctive fruit yield or size reductions and offering remarkable water savings of 22% of the control applied water.

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