Cox growers advised on how to prevent stalk-end browning from SmartFresh

Stalk-end browning, a potential problem that arises when Cox is treated with ethylene inhibitor SmartFresh, has been largely prevented this season.

This is thanks to growers following the advice of crop protection supplier Landseer, which markets the product. The browning disorder was noted in early trials with SmartFresh, whose main advantage for Cox is preventing in-store softening.

"We've been advising growers to cool Cox properly and then maintain (the recommended) store temperature," said Landseer managing director Mark Tulley. "But this season the problem was big fluctuations in temperature - in farm-shop stores or when refrigeration-plant breakdown has occurred, or where fruit has been moved from one store to another," he explained. "However, field heat does not have to be completely eliminated (from freshly picked fruit in store) before applying SmartFresh."

He stressed that the most important requirement is that once the fruit has been brought down to the recommended temperature, it is kept there.

But growers should still try to avoid using the product on early-picked Cox that is destined for long-term storage through to as late as March, he advised. Ideally, it should be used on Cox that will be marketed from November to January when the bulk of the variety is sold.

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