Stored Bramley apples see mixed fortunes

Bramley's Seedling has suffered "mixed fortunes" in store this season largely due to low calcium.

Generally, however, fruit that received a full calcium programme and was kept under good conditions suffered no quality problems.

Those are the findings of Worldwide Fruit Qualytech's fruit-storage specialist Martin Luton, who monitors the condition of stored apples and pears earmarked for marketing by Worldwide Fruit.

Bitter pit is the main problem in stored Bramleys that contain well below the minimum recommended calcium content of 4.5mg/100g fresh weight. In most cases, growers could have avoided the problem by applying a full programme of 72kg/ha of calcium chloride or its equivalent.

"The five-and-one (five per cent CO2, one per cent oxygen) storage regime does a very good job of suppressing bitter pit," Luton said. "Quite a few growers are using this regime together with SmartFresh (which also helps reduce bitter pit and scald)."

With investment in new stores significantly increasing in recent years, many more are capable of running the five-and-one regime. Growers with older stores are able to rent high-quality storage from the larger growers with spare capacity, Luton said.

Virtually all Cox had been marketed by early March. Much of it had been treated with SmartFresh to maintain its firmness, added Luton. It appears that the problem of stalk-end browning suffered by the variety in early trials with the product has been resolved mainly by store operators ensuring that fruit is not subjected to fluctuating temperatures during the storage period.

The quality of Gala, most of which also has been marketed, has generally proved very good, he said. Quality Fruit Group advice to pick the variety early, when its starch pattern was 80 to 90 per cent, ensured that its sugar content during storage increased by two to three per cent to give it optimum eating quality. If the fruit is left on the tree for a bit longer before picking, its sugar content declines in store, Luton said.


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