Location: Wenatchee, Washington2011 Annual Report
1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
This project will strengthen synergy between PACE International LLC hereinafter called the Cooperator, and the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, hereinafter referred to as ARS in a collaborative effort to develop topically applied lipophilic compounds suitable for either conventional or designated ‘organic’ orchards, to be used as remedial or prophylactic treatments to reduce physiological apple disorders related to peel cracking, lenticel markings or lenticel breakdown (LB).
1b. Approach (from AD-416)
Lenticel breakdown (LB) is a cuticle disorder occurring mainly on ‘Gala’ and ‘Fuji’ apples. For the past several years, LB has been among the top priorities of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission. Recent work at ARS in Wenatchee has elucidated the dynamics of fruit epidermal tissue—how the apple peel stretches, grows and responds biochemically and structurally to changes in environmental conditions—and has expertise on the nature of LB. On the other hand, PACE International LLC has formulary expertise with a history of successful applications in the tree fruit industry worldwide. Together, we propose to investigate different formulations of natural lipids and lipophilic compounds for their effects on fruit cuticle ultrastructure and fruit cuticle disorders.
3. Progress Report
This report documents research conducted under a Non-Funded Cooperative Agreement between ARS and Pace International LLC. It relates to objective 1 of the associated in-house project that seeks to identify factors that influence postharvest fruit quality or development of market limiting physiological disorders. Data from our previous research suggested plant-derived lipophilic coatings applied before harvest were effective for 1) reducing lenticel disorders of ‘Gala’ apples stored at 31°F for up to 180 days, and 2) reducing moisture loss of fruit during storage. From these experimental data, the product EpiShield was developed. In 2008, EpiShield was applied as a postharvest dip to peaches and reduced moisture loss in storage by as much as 20%. In 2009 and 2010 EpiShield was applied to ‘Gala’ and ‘Golden Delicious’ apples with or without SmartFresh, then stored at 33 °F and 75% or 100% relative humidity. After 24 weeks at 33 °F, treatments were ranked according to strength of beneficial effects on fruit quality (i.e. reduced internal ethylene, improved flesh firmness, lower incidence of peel disorders): SmartFresh > Humidity > EpiShield. That is, effect of EpiShield treatment was overshadowed by other treatments when used in combination. EpiShield alone at 1% had no effect on fruit quality. Subsequent trials using EpiShield will be conducted at higher rates. Progress is monitored through periodic meetings, phone conversations, as well as annual written progress reports to the non-funding organization.