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Fruit cracking (also known as growth cracks or fruit splitting) is a major physiological disorder that can cause significant economic losses in a wide variety of fruit including tomato ( Solanum lycopersicon ), cherry ( Prunus avium ), apple ( Malus

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fruit’s water relations are thought to play a critical role in cracking ( Considine and Kriedemann, 1972 ; Measham et al., 2009 ; Sekse, 1995 , 2008 ; Sekse et al., 2005 ). Recent investigations have established that stage III sweet cherry fruit have

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The environmental and physiological causes of cracking or splitting of soft fruits and citrus as they ripen are not well understood. This paper explores factors contributing to radial cracking in tomatoes, gives suggestions for prevention of cracking, and suggests directions for future research. Fruit cracking occurs when there is a rapid net influx of water and solutes into the fruit at the same time that ripening or other factors reduce the strength and elasticity of the tomato skin. In the field, high soil moisture tensions suddenly lowered by irrigation or rains are the most frequent cause of fruit cracking. Low soil moisture tensions reduce the tensile strength of the skin and increase root pressure. In addition, during rain or overhead irrigation, water penetrates into the fruit through minute cracks or through the corky tissue around the stem scar. Increases in fruit temperature raise gas and hydrostatic pressures of the pulp on the skin, resulting in immediate cracking in ripe fruit or delayed cracking in green fruit. The delayed cracking occurs later in the ripening process when minute cracks expand to become visible. High light intensity may have a role in increasing cracking apart from its association with high temperatures. Under high light conditions, fruit soluble solids and fruit growth rates are higher. Both of these factors are sometimes associated with increased cracking. Anatomical characteristics of crack-susceptible cultivars are: 1) large fruit size, 2) low skin tensile strength and/or low skin extensibility at the turning to the pink stage of ripeness, 3) thin skin, 4) thin pericarp, 5) shallow cutin penetration, 6) few fruits per plant, and 7) fruit not shaded by foliage. Following cultural practices that result in uniform and relatively slow fruit growth offers some protection against fruit cracking. These practices include maintenance of constant soil moisture and good Ca nutrition, along with keeping irrigation on the low side. Cultural practices that reduce diurnal fruit temperature changes also may reduce cracking. In the field, these practices include maintaining vegetative cover. Greenhouse growers should maintain minimal day/night temperature differences and increase temperatures gradually from nighttime to daytime levels. For both field and greenhouse tomato growers, harvesting before the pink stage of ripeness and selection of crack-resistant cultivars probably offers the best protection against cracking. Areas for future research include developing environmental models to predict cracking and exploring the use of Ca and gibberellic acid (GA) sprays to prevent cracking.

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Cuticular cracks may be defined as the physical failure of the fruit skin ( Milad and Shackel, 1992 ). They form shallow or deeper oblong wounds on fruit ( Nguyen-The, 1991 ; Sekse, 1998 ). In addition to having a negative affect on fruit

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‘Gala’ apple strains are susceptible to stem-end fruit cracking at harvest ( Fallahi et al., 2013 ) and during storage ( Lee et al., 2013 , 2016 ). The incidence of stem-end fruit cracking at harvest is influenced by several factors such as

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Wherever sweet cherries are grown, rain-induced fruit cracking imposes a major limitation to production ( Christensen, 1996 ). Susceptibility to rain cracking differs among cultivars ( Christensen, 1995 , 1999 , 2000 ; Measham et al., 2009 ), but

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Abstract

The growth curves of eastern-grown nectarines (Prunus persica (L.) Batsch) do not follow closely the three-phase sigmoid curve established for peaches. All clones completed phase I at the same time. However, many clones did not have a well-defined ‘final swell’ and several showed gradual increases in growth through phases II and III. Percentages of final fruit size attained during the final few weeks of growth or percentages of calcium in leaves, fruits or peels were not closely associated with cracking of fruits. Slower growth rate appears linked to the nectarine character, although the linkage seems to have been partially broken in some clones. Growth rates of 41 nectarine clones were not closely associated with field cracking or minor surface cracking.

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Abstract

Many studies have been conducted concerning the crack resistance of tomato fruits. Various means of measuring crack susceptibility of tomato fruits have been used. Iverson (3), Reynard (6), and Prashar and Lambeth (5) have used rating systems to evaluate cracking of tomato fruits. These systems were rapid and suitable for distinguishing between relatively large differences in crack resistance. Johannessen (4), Voisey and MacDonald (10), and Voisey and Lyall (9) have devised instruments to measure the mechanical strength of the tomato skin. Methods using these instruments are slow and the relationship between crack resistance of tomato fruits and the mechanical strength of the skin has not been definitely established. White and Whatley (11) have suggested the use of a map measure to measure the lengths of cracks in tomatoes and apples. This method is very accurate, but it is slow and limits the number of fruits that can be evaluated. Hepler (2) developed, and Thompson et al.(7) and Thompson (8) used the Illinois vacuum-immersion technique for testing the resistance of fruit cracking in tomatoes. It consists of placing in water fruits selected at incipient color, drawing a partial vacuum and holding the vacuum until bubbles are no longer emitted from the stem scar, then continuing the immersion for a certain period at normal pressure. The resulting cracks are measured with a map measure. This method has the advantage in that it can differentiate crack resistance among lines that appear resistant to cracking in the field. The conditions under which cracking occurs can be controlled by using this method, and a large part of the environmental effect upon cracking can be eliminated. This method is rapid as far as inducing cracking is concerned, but extremely time—consuming when it comes to measuring the induced cracks. This is especially true on lines where large amounts of cracking are induced on the fruit.

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Cracking and scarring of pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) fruit are under genetic control in families having the cultivar Serrano Chili as the P1 parent. Fruit of `Serrano Chili' exhibited slight cuticle cracking or scarring, with no wall cracking, for an average rating of 2.2. Fruit cracking ratings of the P2 parents (`Anaheim Chili', `Red Cherry Small', and `Keystone Resistant Giant') were 1.0, 1.0, and 1.8, respectively, whereas ratings for F, (`Serrano Chili' × `Anaheim Chili'), F1(`Serrano Chili' × `Red Cherry Small'), and F, (`Serrano Chili' × `Keystone Resistant Giant') were 3.5, 2.8, and 3.5, respectively—an indication of overdominance. Cracking ratings in F2 and BCP2 populations were very similar and shifted toward the mean of the P2 parent within each family, while ratings in the BCP1 populations were similar to the F1 mean. Estimates of gene effects for cracking were mostly dominant, with some additive effects in `Serrano Chili' × `Anaheim Chili' and `Serrano Chili' × `Keystone Resistant Giant' families, and additive × additive epistasis in `Serrano Chili' `Keystone Resistant Giant'. Plants selected from segregating generations for either high and low scarring or high and low cracking produced progeny the following year with lower ratings than their respective mother's rating the previous year. Since cracking and scarring were significantly correlated with length, diameter, and length: diameter ratio of fruit in only a few generations and in segregating progeny of selected plants, fruit shape has minimal relationship to cracking and scarring.

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Excess irrigation water was provided to spring crops of bag-grown greenhouse tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) to test the effect on radial fruit cracking. Varied numbers of emitters were placed in bags filled with soilless medium to provide different amounts of irrigation water. In 1990, all emitters provided water containing nutrient solution, but in 1992, the extra water added in one treatment did not contain nutrient solution. In both years, the percentage of cracked fruit was 20 percentage points higher in the treatments receiving more water. The increase in cracking was similar whether or not nutrient solution was added to the extra water. There also were some effects of the extra water on yield. Fruit count per plant was slightly higher (9.5%) when extra water was provided without nutrient solution, but was the same when nutrient solution was added to the extra water. Fruit weights per plant were 18.6% higher in 1990 when watering was increased. In 1992, fruit weights were similar, except for the treatment where the extra water provided did not contain nutrient solution. Fruit weight in this treatment was 19.7% higher than in the other treatments. In both crops, the percentage of cracking increased as linear and quadratic functions of cluster positions, i.e., there was more cracking in the upper clusters. In greenhouse situations, growers should consider water reduction when experiencing high levels of fruit cracking and as a precautionary measure when harvesting from the upper clusters. Providing excess water to greenhouse-grown tomatoes may be a viable technique for screening cultivars or for conducting research on practices to reduce cracking.

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