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Title: Improving fruit quality and phytochemical content through better nutrient management practices

item JIFON, JOHN - Texas Agrilife Research
item Lester, Gene

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/15/2010
Publication Date: 4/21/2010
Citation: Jifon, J., Lester, G.E. 2010. Improving fruit quality and phytochemical content through better nutrient management practices. HortScience. 45:515-516.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Consumer preference quality traits (e.g. taste, texture) of muskmelons (Cucumis melo L.) and many other fruits are strongly influenced by cultivar as well as soil properties, such as soil type and nutrient supply capacity. Among nutrients, potassium (K) has the strongest influence on quality parameters. However, during fruit growth and maturation, soil K supply alone is seldom adequate to satisfy K requirements. The effects of soil type (sandy versus clay soil) and K fertilizer amendments on market quality and phytochemical content of muskmelon (cv Cruiser) fruit were investigated. Experiments were established in two sites with contrasting soil types (sandy vs clay), and starting at fruit set, additional foliar fertilizer K applications were made at weekly intervals using several K salts (KCl; KNO3; potassium thiosulfate - KTS; & Potassium Metalosate, KM). Even though pre-plant soil K concentrations were high (> 300 mg/kg; especially on the clay soil), supplemental foliar K treatments resulted in generally higher tissue K concentrations. Fruits from plants grown on the heavy soil had higher K concentrations, soluble solids, sugars, and phytochemicals (ascorbic acid and beta-carotene) than those from plants grown on the sandy soil. The relative responses to foliar K were greater on the sandy soil than the clay soil. There were no consistent trends among K sources except for KNO3 which tended to result in poor fruit quality compared to control fruit especially on the sandy soil. The results demonstrate that mid- to late-season foliar K applications can improve melon fruit quality and indicate that the relative benefit of this quality improvement strategy depends on soil type.