Physiological studies of the influence of light and water stress on harvest and postharvest quality of deciduous fruit

Murray, Xavier John (2002-12)

Thesis (MSc)--Stellenbosch University, 2002.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Successful export of South African fresh fruit requires fruit of a high quality. Variable fruit quality within a consignment is detrimental to effective marketing of the product. The light microclimate under which the fruit develops is one of the factors that affect within-tree and between-tree variation in quality, maturity and yield. Light exposure effects on fruit quality at harvest and after commercial storage and ripening periods, as well as the physiological mechanisms of these responses to light exposure were studied. Increased exposure to light resulted in the development of typical sun leaf characteristics, with the associated increase in leaf nitrogen concentration and photosynthetic rates. Size and mass of 'Laetitia' plums and 'Cripps' Pink' apples increased with increasing exposure to light. Shade treatments were only started after the initial phase of cell / division was complete. Increased size of the fruit was likely due to the improved carbon balance of the exposed foliage and fruit from the end of cell division until harvest. The transpiration stream was higher in the more exposed foliage compared to the shaded parts of the canopy. This was supported by increased transpiration rates and decreased midday water potentials of exposed leaves. 'Songold' plums and 'Rosemarie' pears were also investigated in the first season, but results were not conclusive. Increased exposure to light was associated with advanced maturity of 'Laetitia' plums at harvest. Shaded fruit were able to attain a similar level of maturity as exposed fruit during storage and ripening periods. At harvest and after the storage and ripening periods, exposed fruit had a higher total soluble solid (TSS) content and therefore an improved eating quality. At harvest, blush colour of 'Laetitia' plums increased with increased exposure to irradiance. Blush colour continued to develop during storage and ripening, and after the ripening period it was evident that blush colour development was associated with a dosage effect i.e. exposure to a cumulative level of irradiance gives the fruit the potential to develop a certain amount of blush colour. Fruit exposed to more than 70% photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) were .able to develop to a similar level of blush colour, whereas, fruit exposed to less than 50% PPFD were not able to attain the same level of blush colour. Increased exposure to light did not result in advanced maturity of 'Cripps' Pink' apples at harvest, but it did lead to improved blush colour and increased TSS levels. Blush colour of 'Rosemarie' pears was also dependent on exposure to light from four weeks before harvest. Exposed 'Laetitia' plums had a greater whole fruit content of Mn and B, but concentration on a dry mass basis of P, K, and B decreased with increasing light. Exposed 'Cripps' Pink' apples had increased whole fruit content of P, K, Ca, Mg, Mn, Fe, Cu and B, but concentration on a dry mass basis of K and Na decreased with increasing light. Nutrient content is often associated with the incidence of internal disorders of fruit after storage and further investigation of this effect is necessary as internal disorders were virtually absent in this study. The termination of irrigation shortly before harvest in order to advance the maturity of all the fruit to a similar level, and the subsequent strip harvest of the fruit on a single harvest date, is a practice commonly used by South African plum producers to reduce cost and ostensibly to improve fruit quality. The effect of this practice on 'Songold' plum quality at harvest, after storage and after ripening was also studied. Drip-irrigated plums and plums subjected to soil drying had a better eating quality and were more marketable than micro-irrigated and non-droughted fruit. Following commercial storage and ripening periods these fruit were firmer, had a higher TSS content and were of a similar size and mass to micro-irrigated and non-droughted fruit. The extended harvesting period, in contrast to a strip harvest, allowed the fruit that were smaller and less mature at the beginning of the period to attain a greater size and advanced maturity toward the end of the harvesting period.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Suksesvolle uitvoer van Suid-Afrikaanse vars vrugte vereis volgehoue hoë gehalte. Wisselvallige vruggehalte binne 'n besending is nadelig vir die effektiewe bemarking van die produk. Die lig mikroklimaat waaronder die vrug ontwikkel is een van die faktore wat variasie in gehalte, rypheidsstadium en opbrengs binne die boom en tussen bome beïnvloed. Die effek van verhoogde ligblootstelling op vruggehalte by oes, na kommersiële opberging en na die rypwordingsperiode, sowel as die fisiologiese meganismes van die reaksie van verhoogde ligblootstelling is bestudeer. Verhoogde blootstelling aan lig lei tot die ontwikkeling van tipiese son-blaar karaktertrekke, met die gepaardgaande verhoging in blaar stikstof konsentrasie en fotosintetiese tempo. Grote en massa van 'Laetitia' pruime en 'Cripps' Pink' appels het toegeneem met verhoogde blootstelling aan lig. Skadu behandelings is eers begin na die einde van die periode van selverdeling. Toenemende grootte van die vrugte is as gevolg van die verbeterde koolstofbalans van die blootgestelde blare en vrugte vanaffase II van vruggroei tot oestyd. Die transpirasie stroom is geallokeer na die blootgestelde blare. Dit word ondersteun deur die verhoogde transpirasie tempo en verminderde middag waterpotensiaal van die blootgestelde blare. 'Songold' pruime en 'Rosemarie' pere is ook bestudeer, maar die uitslae is nie so oortuigend nie. Toenemende blootstelling aan lig is geassosieer met gevorderde rypheid van 'Laetitia' by oes. Dit was moontlik vir skadu vrugte om dieselfde rypheidsvlak as blootgestelde vrugte te bereik, tydens die opberging en rypwording periodes. Teen oestyd en na opberging en rypwording, het blootgestelde vrugte 'n hoër suiker inhoud gehad en dus 'n hoër eetgehalte. Teen oestyd, het die bioskleur van die pruime toegeneem met toenemende blootstelling aan lig. Ontwikkeling van bloskleur het aangehou gedurende opberging en rypwording, en na die die rypwordings periode was dit duidelik dat bioskleur ontwikkeling met 'n dosis-effek geassosieer word, m.a.w. blootstelling aan 'n sekere opgestapelde vlak van lig gee die vrug die potensiaal om 'n sekere hoeveelheid bioskleur te ontwikkel. Vrugte wat meer as 70% ligblootstelling gekry het, het dieselfde bioskleur ontwikkel, maar vrugte wat minder as 50% ligblootstelling gekry het, het minder bloskleur ontwikkel. Toenemende blootstelling aan lig het nie gelei tot gevorderde rypheid van 'Cripps' Pink' appels teen oestyd nie, maar dit het wel gelei tot verbeterde bioskleur en verhoogde suiker inhoud. Bloskleur van 'Rosemarie' pere is afhanklik van blootstelling aan lig kort voor oestyd. Blootgestelde 'Laetitia' pruime het 'n verhoogde vrug inhoud van Mn en B met verhoogde ligblootstelling gehad, maar die konsentrasie van P, K en B op 'n droë massa basis het afgeneem met verhoogde ligblootstelling. Blootgestelde 'Cripps' Pink' appels het 'n verhoogde vrug inhoud van P, K, Ca, Mg, Mn, Fe, Cu en B met verhoogde ligblootstelling gehad, maar die konsentrasie van K en Na op 'n droë massa basis het afgeneem met verhoogde ligblootstelling. Voedingstof inhoud is geassosieer met die voorkoms van interne probleme in vrugte na opberging en verdere navorsing oor hierdie effek is nodig. Die terminering van besproeiing kort voor oestyd met die doelom die rypheid van al die vrugte op dieselfde vlak te kry sowel as die gepaardgaande oes van al die vrugte op een dag, is 'n algemene praktyke wat gebruik word deur Suid-Afrikaanse pruim produsente om kostes te beperk en oënskynlik, om vruggehalte te verbeter. Die effek van hierdie praktyke op 'Songold' pruim gehalte teen oestyd, na opberging en na rypwording is ook bestudeer. Drup-besproeide pruime en pruime wat blootgestel is aan grond uitdroging het 'n beter eetgehalte en is meer bemarkbaar as mikro-besproeide en nie-droogte geïnduseerde vrugte. Na kommersiële opberging en rypwording periodes het hierdie vrugte 'n hoër fermheid en suiker inhoud gehad, en 'n gelyksoortige grootte en massa as mikrobesproeide en nie-droogte geïnduseerde vrugte. Die verlengde oesperiode het die kleiner en minder ryp vrugte aan die begin van die periode 'n kans gegee om toe te neem in grootte en 'n gevorderde vlak van rypheid te bereik aan die einde van die oesperiode.

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