Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Wenatchee, Washington » Physiology and Pathology of Tree Fruits Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #401248

Research Project: Enhancement of Apple, Pear, and Sweet Cherry Quality

Location: Physiology and Pathology of Tree Fruits Research

Title: Factors affecting development of disorders expressed after storage of ‘Gala’ apple fruit

item ARGENTA, LUIZ - Epagri
item WOOD, RACHAEL - Wageningen Agricultural University
item Mattheis, James
item THEWES, FABIO - Universidade Federal De Santa Maria
item NESI, CRISTIANO - Epagri
item NEUWALD, DANIEL - Hohenheim University

Submitted to: Postharvest Biology and Technology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/16/2023
Publication Date: 7/3/2023
Citation: Argenta, L., Wood, R., Mattheis, J.P., Thewes, F., Nesi, C., Neuwald, D. 2023. Factors affecting development of disorders expressed after storage of ‘Gala’ apple fruit. Postharvest Biology and Technology. 204. Article 112439.

Interpretive Summary: ‘Gala’ apple has the highest production volume of any apple grown in North America. ‘Gala’s success is due to its excellent eating quality that appeals to many consumers. It’s ease of production and high tonnage per acre have also made it popular with apple growers. For much of its history, ‘Gala’ also had relatively few problems that arose during cold storage, a period that can be 6 to 8 months long. Unfortunately, over the past decade there has been an increased incidence of peel and flesh disorders that render ‘Gala’ fruit unmarketable. More disorders means growers have less fruit to sell. Fortunately, current packinghouse technology exists that can identify fruit with disorders so consumers don’t buy ‘Gala’ apples that are of poor quality. ARS scientists in collaboration with colleagues in Brazil, Germany, and the Netherlands, conducted a multiyear study to identify factors that have enhanced apple fruit disorder risk. The major factors increasing risk are late harvest, year to year weather prior to harvest, orchard location, use of a synthetic ripening inhibitor or not, and cold storage temperature. This information has utility to growers to assess how to alter pre- and postharvest production practices to reduce the risk of disorder development during cold storage after harvest.

Technical Abstract: This study investigated factors influencing susceptibility and development of physiological disorders and decay expressed after long-term storage in ‘Gala’ apple fruit (Malus domestica Borkh.). Five experiments were performed over ten production years with fruit from two environmentally different orchard locations in a humid subtropical climate at 990 m (warmer) and 1415 m above sea level. Fruit were harvested at two maturity stages (early and advanced), treated or not treated with 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) and stored at 0.5 oC or 2 oC in a controlled atmosphere (CA, 1.5 kPa O2 and 2.5 kPa CO2), for eight months plus seven days shelf life. In one experiment, fruit were stored in CA with CO2 concentrations of 1.5 or 3 kPa. The relationship between fruit mineral composition and physiological disorders was assessed in one production year. Flesh browning (FB) was the predominant disorder, followed by decay, cracking, and lenticel breakdown-wet (LB-wet). The average incidence of lenticel breakdown-dry (LB-dry), leather blotch and bitter pit were low and variable across production years. The FB index (incidence weighted by severity) was lowest in fruit produced at the colder orchard location, early harvest, treatment with 1-MCP, and storage at 2 oC. These factors also influenced fruit softening after storage. The major source of variance of the FB index in order of decreasing contribution were harvest maturity, production year, orchard location, 1-MCP and storage temperature. Production year variability of FB index correlated positively with early summer rain and negatively with early spring temperature. A weak positive correlation was also found between FB index and fruit K+Mg/Ca ratio. Higher CA CO2 concentration increased FB in fruit stored at 0.5 oC but not at 2 oC. The same factors affected decay, cracking and LB-wet disorder similarly as for FB, except that decay and cracking were not consistently affected by storage temperature, and decay and LB-wet were not impacted by 1-MCP. Storage temperature had the most influence on the variance of LB-wet. LB-dry was highest in late harvest fruit and, in the production year with the highest incidence, in fruit stored at 0.5 oC. Leather blotch was highest in early harvest fruit and in fruit stored at 0.5 oC. 1-MCP treatment did not affect disorders other than FB and cracking. These results suggest that interactions among harvest and postharvest factors influence the development of ‘Gala’ FB and other disorders and indicate a possible relationship of chilling in FB development. The information may be useful for implementing practical strategies to reduce the development of these postharvest disorders in ‘Gala’ apple fruit.