Make apples redder, draw customers

February 18th, 2009 - 1:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 18 (IANS) Apples have been evocative of good health, including lower risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Apples also contain anthocyanins, important antioxidants that give the peels their red colouring, one of the most important factors consumers consider when buying apples.

One variety called Honeycrisp has peel pigment that takes on one of two patterns - “striped” or “blushed.” A single Honeycrisp tree can produce both striped and blushed apples, a phenomenon unique to this variety.

In terms of marketability, consumers in some regions prefer striped apples, while others prefer blushed, but overall redder is better.

Adriana Telias, Emily Hoover and Diego Rother of the University of Minnesota compared the colouring of Honeycrisp apples. From 2005, the team studied the fruit of trees grown from buds on branches with exclusively striped or blushed fruit.

They found that blushed trees produced more blushed fruit than striped trees. Likewise, the markings on striped fruit were more intense on striped trees than blushed trees.

Each year, blushed fruit was found to be redder than striped fruit. “Given that blushed fruit are redder than striped ones, the goal should be to increase blushed fruit production when target markets prefer redder fruit,” stated the researchers.

“This may prove difficult given that even the top blushed-producing trees never yielded more than 50 percent blushed fruit over all three years.”

Because higher crop loads were associated with lower percentage of blushed fruit, the study suggests regulating the crop load to increase the number of blushed fruits, and that growing trees from buds of blushed fruit branches should result in higher blushed fruit yields.

This is based on indications that both genetic and environmental factors affect peel pigmentation, said a Minnesota release.

The research was published in the American Society for Horticultural Science journal HortScience.

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