Reflective film can boost profits for apple growers

Nov 03, 2009
Solar films shown applied to the orchard floor improved fruit size and color in Gala apples. Credit: Photo by Ignasi Iglesias

In a research report published in a recent issue of HortTechnology, scientists Ignasi Iglesias and Simó Alegre examined the effects of covering orchard floors with reflective films on fruit color, fruit quality, canopy light distribution, orchard temperature, and profitability. The experiments were performed using Extenday™ and Solarmate™ films installed 5 weeks before commercial harvest in orchards of 'Mondial Gala' apples. The research showed that the use of both films increased fruit size and color and can result in increased profits for apple growers.

It's long been known that consumers choose apples based on fruit color. Although color does not affect the flavor, taste, and texture of apples, color influences consumer buying decisions and, in turn, growers' bottom lines. For many red and bicolored apple cultivars, including Gala, Delicious, and Fuji, red color (the intensity and quality of red skin) and fruit size are also important characteristics for fruit grading standards. Even when apples are of adequate size, poor fruit color can result in lower-grade fruit and decreased consumer approval.

Apple producers recognize that clear days with temperatures of around 25 °C and cool nights below 15 °C are ideal growing conditions for apples to develop bright red colors. Under these conditions, apples are capable of increasing canopy photosynthesis, and respiration rates decrease at night. Commercial apple growers in southern regions can be challenged by warm, dry summers that are not favorable to apple fruit color development; these warmer climates can have a definite negative effect on production and profits.

'Gala' apples have become very popular in Europe, where the high quality of this fruit is increasingly appreciated by consumers. To meet consumer demand, apple growers in southern Europe (mainly Spain and Italy) are looking for ways to turn out high-quality, cost-effective apple crops despite a climate that is not particularly conducive to apple production.

To address producers' issues of warmer climates, increased consumer demand, and high apple quality, Iglesias and Alegre designed a 3-year experiment using 'Mondial Gala' apples grown in orchards in northeastern Spain. Their objective was to determine how different types of reflective film affect orchard temperature, skin-color development, fruit quality, light canopy distribution, and, ultimately, apple crop profitability.

Based on the fruit size and color required to meet European Union grade standards, the use of Extenday™ or Solarmate™ films resulted in an increase of 26% and 17%, respectively, when compared with the control, for the number of fruit picked at first harvest.

The researchers concluded that "season clearly affected fruit color development, whereas harvest date, fruit firmness, fruit size, soluble solid concentration, titratable acidity, and maturity were not consistently affected by the use of reflective film." According to Iglesias, the study results are promising, but long-term benefits of the technique will largely depend on fruit prices.

Source: American Society for Horticultural Science

Explore further: Japan to hunt fewer whales in Pacific this season (Update)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Found - the apple gene for red

Nov 30, 2006

CSIRO researchers have located the gene that controls the colour of apples – a discovery that may lead to bright new apple varieties.

One bad apple: Consumers prefer perfect produce

Dec 03, 2007

A research study published in the October 2007 issue of HortScience found that consumers don't like blemishes—on apples, that is. The study of consumer values led by Chengyan Yue, PhD, Assistant Professor of Hor ...

Laser Shows if Fruit's Beauty is Only Skin Deep

May 08, 2005

The produce industry is working with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to make sure that fruits and vegetables taste as good as they look. They're counting on "machine vision" tools that can predict ...

Apples, apple juice shown to prevent early atherosclerosis

May 03, 2008

A new study shows that apples and apple juice are playing the same health league as the often-touted purple grapes and grape juice. The study was published in the April 2008 issue of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.

WineCrisp -- new apple was more than 20 years in the making

Jan 22, 2009

A new, late-ripening apple named WineCrisp™ which carries the Vf gene for scab resistance was developed over the past 20 plus years through classical breeding techniques, not genetic engineering. License to propagate trees ...

Recommended for you

Scientists tether lionfish to Cayman reefs

6 hours ago

Research done by U.S. scientists in the Cayman Islands suggests that native predators can be trained to gobble up invasive lionfish that colonize regional reefs and voraciously prey on juvenile marine creatures.

India's ancient mammals survived multiple pressures

Apr 17, 2014

Most of the mammals that lived in India 200,000 years ago still roam the subcontinent today, in spite of two ice ages, a volcanic super-eruption and the arrival of people, a study reveals.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Researchers develop new model of cellular movement

(Phys.org) —Cell movement plays an important role in a host of biological functions from embryonic development to repairing wounded tissue. It also enables cancer cells to break free from their sites of ...

LADEE mission ends with planned lunar impact

(Phys.org) —Ground controllers at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., have confirmed that NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft impacted the surface ...