High-density orchards improve the quality of 'Songold' plums from lower, more shaded canopy positions
Gel breakdown is a major postharvest problem in 'Songold' plums (Prunus salicina Lindl.) that is exacerbated in fruit harvested from lower canopy positions in large trees. Modern high-density orchards with small trees aggressively address this problem through improved light distribution. Fruit quality was observed over two years from different canopy positions in modern plum orchards trained to high-density V- and spindle systems to determine if the incidence of gel breakdown reported in the lower canopy of large, widely spaced plum trees is reduced. There was no significant difference in incidence of gel breakdown in the top or base of the canopy in any of the experiments. Fruit shaded with 80% shade netting, showed an increased tendency of gel breakdown compared to the exposed control. Effective light management in an orchard can improve plum fruit quality.