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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Field Application of Chelated Calcium: Postharvest Effects on Cantaloupe and Honeydew Fruit Quality.

Authors
item LESTER, GENE
item GRUSAK, MICHAEL

Submitted to: HortTechnology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 10, 2003
Publication Date: January 21, 2004
Citation: Lester, G.E., Grusak, M.A. 2004. Field application of chelated calcium: postharvest effects on cantaloupe and honeydew fruit quality. HortTechnology. 14(1):29-38.

Interpretive Summary: Commercially grown honey dew fruit [Cucumis melo (Inodorus group)] and netted cantaloupe fruit [Cucumis melo (Reticulatus group)] in low humidity regions of the U.S. are typically field packed, eliminating the possibility for postharvest chelated-calcium dip treatments to extend fruit shelf-life. In this study, orange-flesh honey dew fruit were commercially grown in 2001 and 2002 in the Sacramento Valley, California, and orange-fleshed netted cantaloupe fruit were commercially grown in 2002 in the Imperial Valley, California, and the Rio Grande Valley, Texas. Amino acid-chelated calcium and mannitol-complexed calcium compounds were applied to field-grown plants at the rate of 0.95 L/0.405 hectares (1 qt/acre) at 0, 1, 2, or 4 total applications during growth of honey dew and cantaloupe fruit. Applications were A) at female flowering; B) within 15 days (cantaloupe) or 20 days (honey dew) after flowering; C) within 30 days (cantaloupe) or 40 days (honey dew) after female flowering; and/or D) within 3 to 5 days prior to abscission. One application equaled [A] or [D], two applications equaled [A plus B] or [C plus D], and four applications equaled [A plus B plus C plus D]. Evaluations of fully ripe fruit were: exterior and interior firmness, marketability and calcium concentrations, and interior sugars and consumer taste preference following harvest and up to 3 weeks commercial/retail storage. Cantaloupe fruit at both locations did not appear to benefit from preharvest applications of calcium when compared to fruit from plants treated with water. Honey dew fruit, however, did and the benefit was observed both years. Honey dew from four preharvest applications of calcium, regardless of source, were generally superior in firmness, marketability and calcium concentration than fruit from plants receiving water, with 1 or 2 applications of calcium. Fruit sugars and taste were not affected by preharvest applications of calcium.

Technical Abstract: In this study, orange-flesh honey dew fruit [Cucumis melo (Inodorus group) and orange-fleshed netted cantaloupe fruit. [Cucumis melo (Reticulatus group)] were commercially grown. Amino acid-chelated calcium and mannitol-complexed calcium compounds were applied to field-grown plants at the rate of 0.95 L/0.405 hectares at 0, 1, 2, or 4 total applications during growth of honey dew and cantaloupe fruit. Applications were A) at female flowering; B) within 15 days (cantaloupe) or 20 days (honey dew) after flowering; C) within 30 days (cantaloupe) or 40 days (honey dew) after female flowering; and/or D) within 3 to 5 days prior to abscission. One application equaled [A] or [D], two applications equaled [A plus B] or [C plus D], and four applications equaled [A plus B plus C plus D]. Evaluations of fully abscised fruit were: exterior and interior firmness, marketability and calcium concentrations, and interior soluble solids concentration (sugars) and consumer preference (taste) following harvest and up to 3 weeks commercial/retail storage. Cantaloupe fruit at both locations did not appear to benefit from preharvest applications of calcium when compared to fruit from plants treated with water. Honey dew fruit, however, did and the benefit was observed both years. Honey dew from four preharvest applications of calcium, regardless of source, were generally superior in firmness, marketability and calcium concentration than fruit from plants receiving water, 1 or 2 applications of calcium. Fruit sugars and taste were not affected by preharvest applications of calcium.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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