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New Zealand Journal of Crop and Horticultural Science

ISSN: 0114-0671 (Print) 1175-8783 (Online) Journal homepage:

Fruit maturity and quality of selectively picked

Royal Gala apples

P. L. Brookfield , J. G. Hughes & C. B. Watkins

To cite this article: P. L. Brookfield , J. G. Hughes & C. B. Watkins (1993) Fruit maturity and
quality of selectively picked Royal Gala apples, New Zealand Journal of Crop and Horticultural
Science, 21:2, 183-187, DOI: 10.1080/01140671.1993.9513766

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Published online: 22 Mar 2010.

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Download by: [Universitatea de Medicina si Farmacie] Date: 03 November 2016, At: 02:10
New Zealand Journal of Crop and Horticultural Science, 1993, Vol. 21: 183-187 183
0114-0671/93/2102-0183 $2.50/0 The Royal Society of New Zealand 1993

Fruit maturity and quality of selectively picked 'Royal Gala' apples

J. G. HUGHES Multiple harvests by selective picking is recom-
The Horticulture and Food Research Institute mended to New Zealand apple growers as a means of
of New Zealand improving fruit size and quality, and reducing the
Private Bag 1401 incidence of mixed fruit maturity (Anon. 1976; Ivey
Havelock North, New Zealand 1978). The cultivar 'Gala' and its red strains, are
picked selectively using a progressive series of
C. B. WATKINS background colours, since background rather than
The Horticulture and Food Research Institute red colour has proven to be a more reliable indicator
of New Zealand of harvest maturity (Volz & Watkins unpubl. data).
Mt Albert Research Centre However, increased crop volumes have resulted in a
Private Bag 92 169 tendency for orchardists to reduce the number of
Auckland, New Zealand picks over the harvest period. At the same time,
marketing of fruit now occurs over an extended period
and the need to maximise storage potential of fruit
has increased.
Abstract Royal Gala' apple trees were selectively
picked to export grade criteria on either two or four Although information has been published on the
occasions during the commercial harvest period, and maturation and ripening of 'Gala' and 'Royal Gala'
the maturity and quality of fruit compared at harvest (Morgan et al. 1984; Watkins et al. 1989; Greene &
and after storage. When the total crop was recovered Autio 1990; Walsh & Volz 1990), no studies on the
using four sequential picks, overall maturity at harvest effects of selective picking on fruit maturity and
was less advanced and less variable, and fruit were quality have been reported. The objective of this
firmer, greener, and less greasy after storage than study was to compare the effects of recovering the
when the crop was harvested using only two selective total crop in either two or four harvests on maturity
picks. The most uniform fruit quality was obtained and quality of 'Royal Gala' fruit.
from the second and third picks of trees harvested
four times. Internal ethylene concentrations tended to
increase within commercial background colour
categories with progressively later harvest date. Total METHODS AND MATERIALS
fruit yield and size distribution was similar for the Twelve 9-year-old apple cv. 'Royal Gala' {Malus
overall crop from both harvest regimes. These results domestica Borkh.) trees carrying similar crop loads
indicate that four rather than two harvests, and were selected randomly within an orchard block at
segregation of packed lines according to time of the DSIR Research Orchard, Havelock North, New
harvest, may be used to optimise out-turn quality of Zealand. The trees were grown as slender pyramids
'Royal Gala' apples. on MM106 rootstock at 520 trees/ha. Fruit from six
trees were picked on four occasions at weekly intervals
Keywords Malus domestica; postharvest (19 and 26 February, 5 and 12 March), starting in the
physiology; ethylene; background colour first week and finishing in the last week of the
commercial harvest period. Fruit from another six
trees were picked on only two occasions (26 February,
H92086 12 March) to establish a less frequent picking regime
Received 23 December 1992; accepted 4 May 1993 within the same harvest period.
184 New Zealand Journal of Crop and Horticultural Science, 1993, Vol. 21

At each harvest, fruit was selectively picked fruit picked twice rather than four times. Differences
according to the harvest maturity criteria of between treatments were not significant however
background colour 4-7 (NZAPMB background colour within any one harvest date on which both treatments
chart where 1 = green and 10 = yellow) and a minimum were picked. A comparison of distribution of
of 66% red blush coverage required for export fruit background colours in fruit from both harvest regimes
quality. The number, weight, and size distribution of also demonstrated a shift to yellower fruit in trees
fruit from each tree was collected during size grading. picked only twice compared with fruit from trees
Fruit in four size classes (fruit weights 88-99, 109- picked four times (Fig. 2). Background colour was
118,130-142, and 156-174 g) were segregated and yellower with increasing fruit size in both treatments
10 fruit randomly selected from each size class from but the differences as a result of harvesting frequency
each replicate tree. Thus, a total of 60 fruit in each remained similar over the range of fruit sizes (data
size class (10 fruit/tree) were assessed per harvest. not shown).
Background colour was assessed using the colour IEC increased over the harvest period in the two-
chart as before. Fruit of size class 130-142 g were pick regime and after the first harvest in the four-pick
divided equally to provide 30 fruit for maturity and regime (Fig. 1C), but there was no effect of picking
30 fruit for storage assessment. A visual assessment regime overall on the IEC. In the first harvest of the
was made of the percentage blush coverage of each four-pick regime, a wide range of values and relatively
apple. From each fruit, 1 ml of gas was drawn into a high concentrations in some individual fruit
hypodermic needle inserted into the core cavity and contributed to a high overall IEC. Further analyses
analysed for internal ethylene concentration (IEC) by were performed on IEC values using background
gas chromatography (Phillips PU450 fitted with a colour as an independent variate. IEC generally
flame ionisation detector, Philips England). Fruit increased as fruit background colour became more
firmness was measured by taking two readings from yellow (data not shown). The relationship between
pared surfaces on opposite sides of each fruit using IEC and fruit background colour changed over the
an Effegi pressure tester (Effegi, Italy) fitted with an harvest period, but harvesting regime per se did not
11.1 mm diameter tip. After cutting each apple in affect this relationship. For any one background
half transversely, the cut surface of the stem end was colour, fruit tended to have higher IEC at the last
placed in iodine solution for c. 30 s then assessed for harvest than on earlier harvests, with the change
starch pattern index using the 'Granny Smith' starch being greatest in greener fruit e.g., IEC of fruit with
pattern chart where 0 = 100% starch and 6 = 0% background colour4 of 0.8 ulitre/litre on 26 February
starch (Reid etal. 1982). and 2.6 ulitre/litre on 12 March.
Background colour, flesh firmness, and greasiness The starch pattern index was higher in fruit picked
of fruit were assessed after 12 weeks storage at 0.5C twice than fruit picked four times (Fig. ID). Starch
followed by 7 days at 20C. Greasiness was rated pattern indices for fruit picked twice increased
subjectively by touch, using a single evaluator and a significantly from 3.4 to 4.4 between the two harvests,
scale of 0 (for none)-3 (for severe greasiness) (Leake whereas those of fruit harvested four times were
etal. 1989). similar over the harvest period with a mean value
Analysis of variance was carried out on median of 2.8.
values of data obtained from individual trees. Ethylene Fruit softened during the harvest period (Fig. IE),
data were transformed to logarithms prior to analysis. and overall the flesh firmness of fruit from trees
picked on two occasions (70.6 N) was lower than in
fruit from trees picked on four occasions (75.5 N).
However, within harvest dates, only fruit from the
Fruit from trees picked twice were overall more highly two-pick regime on Harvest 4 were significantly
blushed than those from trees picked four times. different.
However, the effect of harvest number was detected Total fruit yield was 608 and 606 kg for the two-
on the last harvest only (Fig. 1 A). Although the blush and four-pick treatments respectively. Fruit size
level of fruit from trees picked four times was above distribution was similar between treatments overall,
the 66% requirement for commercial pack-out, it was and yield differences at harvest reflected the number
lower in the first harvest than in the second or third of fruit harvested on each occasion (data not shown).
harvest. Most fruit were harvested on the first and second
Background colour scores increased during the harvests for the two- and four-pick regimes
harvest period (Fig. IB) and were higher overall for respectively. By 5 March, 76% of fruit had been
Brookfield et al.'Royal Gala' apples 185
100 -i


5- **
90 - NS T *
n r c
4- NS
80 - rl j 4'

1 TO

1 I

Q. 3-
70 -
1 (^ 2-

11 C/)

19 Feb 26 Feb 5 Mar 12 Mar Overall

Harvest date

harvested from trees of the four-pick treatment but

only 56% of fruit from trees of the two-pick
NS treatment.
After storage, background colour was higher than
at harvest, but similar treatment differences to those
found at harvest were evident (Fig. 3 A). Overall, fruit
from the four-pick treatment were less yellow than
fruit from the two-pick treatment, but there was no
effect within any one harvest date on which both
treatments were picked.
Fruit from trees picked twice were softer after
storage than fruit from trees picked four times.
However, the overall difference was not great (51.0
19 Feb 26 Feb 5 Mar 12 Mar Overall N and 52.9 N respectively, Fig. 3B). Fruit from the
Harvest date last harvest were significantly softer than those picked
at the second harvest date for both treatments.
Greasiness after storage was worse on fruit picked
Fig. 1 Maturity and quality of 'Royal Gala' apples at
harvest from trees picked two (open bar) or four times only twice, increasing from slight to moderate (Fig.
(solid bar). A, percentage blush coverage; B, background 3C). Changes as a result of harvest date were not
colour; C, internal ethylene oncentration; D, starch significant for fruit picked four times, although more
pattern index; E, flesh firmness. NS, not significant; variation occurred in fruit on the fourth harvest (data
*,P = 0.05; **, P = 0.01 ; ***, P = 0.001. not shown).
186 New Zealand Journal of Crop and Horticultural Science, 1993, Vol. 21

4 5 6 7

Background colour
Fig. 2 Background colour distribution of 'Royal Gala'
apples from trees harvested on four occasions () and two
occasions (A).

The rate of fruit maturation did not appear to be
influenced by frequency of harvests. Individual fruit
from trees harvested only twice tended to be very
mature because these fruit remained on the tree longer.
Thus overall differences in fruit maturity between the
two treatments may have resulted from the presence
of these more mature fruit in fruit harvested from the
two-pick treatment. Moreover, there were no
differences between the two treatments in the
relationship between IEC and background colour.
Background colour is regarded as the main
harvesting indicator for 'Royal Gala' and it has
historically been assumed that the physiology of fruit
is similar for any single background colour irrespective
of harvest date. However, this is unlikely to be true.
Ethylene production of 'Royal Gala' fruit has been
shown to increase over the commercial harvest period 19 Feb 26 Feb 5 Mar 12 Mar Overall
(Watkins et al. 1989; Walsh & Volz 1990), and the
present study indicated that IEC tended to increase Harvest date
for any one background colour over this period. At
the last harvest, greener fruit had similar IEC to Fig. 3 Quality of 'Royal Gala' apples after storage
from trees picked two (open bar) or four (solid bar)
yellower fruit. Therefore infrequent, delayed, or late times. A, background colour; B, flesh firmness; C,
harvesting may result overall in considerably higher greasiness index. NS, not significant; *, P = 0.05;
IEC in the fruit population regardless of background **,/> = 0.01 ;***,P = 0.001.
colour. It appears more critical to avoid over maturity
as the end of harvest approaches, and therefore a
lower background maximum colour grade may need regime with background colour 4.7, had been picked
to be imposed at this time. A comparison of treatments by the third harvest date of the four-harvest regime.
in this experiment showed that 56% of the crop from The most uniform fruit maturity and quality came
the two-harvest regime with background colour 5.3, from the second and third harvests of trees picked
compared with 76% of the crop from the four-harvest four times. Fruit from earlier or later harvests had
Brookfield et al.'Royal Gala' apples 187

more variable IECs. Those from the last harvest were ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
relatively more mature, with limited differences in We thank Dr Anne Gunson for biometrical assistance.
IECs between fruit across the range of background This study was supported by the Foundation for Research,
colours. Science & Technology.
This study confirms industry observations (Anon.
1976; Ivey 1978) that problems with fruit quality
may occur if the crop is picked less frequently and REFERENCES
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growth, and with no residual fruit (i.e., fruit with less Orchardist of New Zealand 62(4): 24-26; 62(6):
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Assessment of ethylene production by apple
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