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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The Use of Sprayable Reflective Particle Films to Increase Light Penetration in Apple Canopies and Improve Apple Quality

Authors
item Glenn, D Michael
item Puterka, Gary

Research conducted cooperatively with:
item Engelhard Corporation

Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 12, 2006
Publication Date: January 26, 2007
Citation: Glenn, D.M., Puterka, G.J. 2007. The use of sprayable reflective particle films to increase light penetration in apple canopies and improve apple quality. HortScience. 42(1): 91-96.

Interpretive Summary: Apple color and size are the key criteria of quality in the market; both are difficult to improve in horticultural production. We evaluated the effect of a reflective, aluminized plastic film (RF) installed between tree rows and a particle-based reflective film applied to the tree (PF) and the grass between tree rows (RPF), each with different light reflection characteristics, on apple color and fruit quality. The RF treatment consistently increased red color in apples and the PF treatment inconsistently improved apple red color in 2 of 3 years while in all years, average fruit weight was increased by the PF and RPF treatments compared to the untreated control and RF treatment. The mechanism responsible for the increased fruit weight with the PF and RPF treatments may be the altered light quality, not quantity, reflected from the PF and RPF treatments. The reflected light from the PF and RPF treatments has enhanced far-red (FR) radiation which may have beneficial effects on both fruit color and fruit weight and if further research supports this finding, new management techniques can be developed that will improve apple quality in a cost-effective manner.

Technical Abstract: The objective of the present study was to examine the effect of a reflective, aluminized plastic film (RF), a particle-based reflective film applied to the tree (PF), or a particle-based reflective film applied to the grass between tree rows (RPF) on apple color and fruit quality. The RF, PF and RPF had different red/far-red light ratios (R/FR). In a multi-year study, RF, RPF and PF treatments were evaluated on 'Empire' apple yield, quality, and color. The RF treatment consistently increased red color in and was the only treatment to increase red color of fruit from the lower portion of the west side of the tree. The PF treatment inconsistently improved apple red color. The RF treatment reflected about six times the amount of PAR as the RPF without greater red color development than the RPF treatments. In all years, average fruit weight was increased by the treatments compared to the untreated control except for the RF treatment. The mechanism responsible for the increased fruit weight may be the altered light quality, not quantity, reflected from the PF and RPF treatments. The reflected light has enhanced far-red (FR) radiation which may have beneficial effects on both fruit color and fruit weight. The effect of enhanced FR on increased fruit weight is likely a phytochrome-mediated process affecting dry matter partitioning; the effect on pigment development requires further investigation.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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