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  • Author or Editor: Vincent Bus x
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Comparisons were made of the major physical and chemical characteristics of seven cultivars of apples (Malus domestica Borkh.) produced and imported into Western Europe from 13 origins. During the 1990-91 marketing season, `Delicious', `Golden Delicious', `Granny Smith', `Elstar', `Jonagold', `Gala', and `Fuji' apples were included in the study. Physical characteristics evaluated were length-to-diameter ratio, shape, external defects, internal defects, water core, bruises, firmness, blush surface, and color. Chemical characteristics evaluated were starch, juice content, soluble solids, acids, and ascorbic acid. Significant differences in some of these quality characteristics were found between the different origins. Apples produced in the United States, particularly `Delicious', had some superior quality characteristics compared to fruit from other origins.

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Incidence and severity of fire blight [Erwinia amylovora (Burr.) Winslow, Broadhurst, Buchanan, Krumwiede, Rogers, and Smith] following field infection were recorded using families resulting primarily from open-pollination of Malus sylvestris (L.) Mill. var.domestica (Borkh.) Mansf. cultivars and a few other Malus Mill. sp. The families were structured as three sublines, planted in three successive years (1992 to 1994), of a diverse population of apple germplasm established at HortResearch, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. The incidence of fire blight varied among the sublines with the oldest planting exhibiting more fire blight. Flowering trees were more likely to be infected than nonflowering trees, in terms of both incidence and severity. Furthermore, the level of fire blight was related to flowering date, with later flowering trees having higher levels. Thus, family means and narrow-sense heritability estimates were computed after first adjusting the fire blight score for flowering date by fitting a linear model. Provenance of origin of the maternal parent explained little variation except that M. sieversii Lebed. families were more resistant than M. sylvestris var. domestica families in one subline. Family means computed using all trees, and those from only flowering trees were highly correlated. Families from open-pollination of M. honanensis Rehder and M. xhartwiggii Koehne females were among the more susceptible. Those from several European M. sylvestris var. domestica cultivars as well as from M. baccata (L.) Borkh. and M. toringoides (Rehder) Hughes females were among the more resistant families. Narrow-sense heritability estimates ranged from 0.05 to 0.85 depending on the subline, with most estimates between 0.12 and 0.36. They were higher in the two older sublines that consisted primarily of open-pollinated families from M. sylvestris var. domestica, and lower in the younger subline that consisted primarily of M. sieversii, due to lower incidence and severity in the latter subline. Breeders who consider potential complications of juvenility, tree size, and flowering date in relation to infection periods should be able to exploit field epidemics to perform effective selection.

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Four subsets of apple (Malus Mill.) germplasm representing modern and old cultivars from the repository and apple genetics population of the Horticulture and Food Research Institute of New Zealand Limited were used in this study. A total of 155 genotypes randomly chosen from the four subsets were analyzed for random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) variation. Nine decamer primers generated a total of 43 fragments, 42 of which were polymorphic across the 155 genotypes. Pairwise distances were calculated between germplasm subsets using the distance metric algorithm in S-PLUS, and used to examine intra-and inter-subset variance components by analysis of molecular variation (AMOVAR). A phenogram based on unweighted pair group method with arithmetic average (UPGMA) cluster analysis was constructed from the pairwise distances and a scatter plot was generated from principal coordinate analysis. The AMOVAR showed that most of the variation in the germplasm (94.6%) was found within subsets, suggesting that there is significant variation among the germplasm. The grouping of genotypes based on the phenogram and scatter plot generally did not reflect the pedigree or provenance of the genotypes. It is possible that more RAPD markers are needed for determining genetic relationships in apple germplasm. Nevertheless, the variation observed in the study suggests that the current practice of sublining populations in the first generation to control inbreeding may not be necessary in subsequent generations. If these results are confirmed by fully informative molecular markers, germplasm managers should reassess the structure of their genetics populations. There may be a need to combine sublines in order to capture the maximum genetic diversity available and to streamline breeding efforts.

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By 2003, organic apple [Malus sylvestris (L.) Mill var. domestica (Borkh.) Mansf.] production had increased to 5626 ha in the United States and to 2964 ha in New Zealand by 2002. Common problems facing organic apple growers in the humid regions of New Zealand and the United States include effective management strategies for apple scab [Venturia inaequalis (Cooke)] and insect pests. Experiments conducted in Iowa in 2003–2004 demonstrated the effectiveness of a kaolin clay- and spinosad-based insecticide program in maintaining codling moth [Cydia pomonella (L.)] damage levels to less than 5% in the scab-resistant cultivars Enterprise, Liberty, Redfree, and Gold Rush. Similar pest management systems have been developed in New Zealand to comply with export standards and quarantines. The use of codling moth granulosis virus and a spinosad-based insecticide have led to reduced pest pressure and to an increase in organic exports with a 41% premium price over conventional apples. However, an association between spinosad use and woolly apple aphid [Eriosoma lanigerum (Hausmann)] population increase was observed in organic orchard surveys in 2006. An alternative to spinosad applications, insect disinfestation through controlled atmosphere (CA) treatment, was investigated to control quarantined pests and to extend the storage potential of scab-resistant cultivars. A CA treatment of 9 weeks of 2% O2 and 2% CO2 at 0.5 °C was determined to maintain firmness ratings to export standards in CA-stored, scab-resistant ‘Pinkie’ apples and to decrease internal ethylene concentration by 84% compared with apples stored in air. In addition, new scab-resistant cultivars with ‘Pinkie’ background under development in New Zealand show promise for organic production in humid regions. Few fruit quality differences were determined between ‘Pinkie’ fruits from integrated fruit production and organic production systems, although premium prices exist only for certified organic apples.

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The global market for total organic product sales was $20 billion in 2005, continuing an annual growth rate of 20% to 35%. In the United States, there were 937,000 ha of certified organic land in 2003 with 5626 ha of organic apples [Malus sylvestris (L.) Mill var. domestica (Borkh.) Mansf.]. Increases in organic fruit production have been associated with improved pest management methods, the use of disease-resistant cultivars, and organic-focused marketing schemes. Often constrained by lower apple yields and smaller fruit size compared with conventional counterparts, key challenges for organic growers include regulation of nutrient cycling processes to maintain crop yields while minimizing the need for external inputs. In local or regional organic markets, disease-resistant apple cultivars, such as ‘Enterprise’, ‘Liberty’, ‘Redfree’, and ‘Gold Rush’, have gained increased acceptance, whereas exporting countries have continued their use of cultivars susceptible to scab [Venturia inaequalis (Cooke)]. Integrated insect pest management approaches, including the use of kaolin clay, codling moth granulosis virus, and spinosad-based insecticides, have been successfully developed to comply with export standards and quarantines, and to meet market demand. Key pests, such as codling moth [Cydia pomonella (L.)], have been managed at damage levels less than 5% using these approaches. Future pest management strategies in organic apple production will focus on development of scab-resistant cultivars with enhanced storage capability and reduction in inputs associated with negative environmental and health effects.

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