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Reducing Apple Storage Disorders

Apples are a significant Canadian crop making up 23% of total fruit farm gate with a value of $223 million in 2016. Recently, two apple varieties, "Honeycrisp" and "Ambrosia," have become increasingly popular with North American consumers. These varieties are sensitive to low temperatures and are prone to developing soft scald disorder, a storage disorder that leads to browning of the fruit skin. It makes the apples unmarketable and causes significant economic losses for growers. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada researchers, working with academic colleagues at Dalhousie University, found solutions to increase the storage life span of these varieties.

The scientists successfully identified genetic and biochemical markers associated with soft scald development. These markers can potentially be used by apple breeding programs to screen against predisposition to soft scald.

By collaborating across several disciplines, including molecular genetics, fruit breeding, postharvest physiology, and biochemistry, the scientists developed new approaches to identify and prevent the disorder. These include new storage regimes for temperature and harvest management and biological markers to identify fruit that is sensitive to low temperatures.

These findings will help prevent economic losses by improving quality management and extending the storage life of these popular apple varieties for growers, which will provide opportunities to expand domestic and international markets.

For more information

McClure, K.A., Gardner, K.M., Toivonen, P.M.A., Hampson, C.R., Song, J., Forney, C., Delong, J., Rajcan, I. and Myles, S. 2016. A QTL Analysis of Soft Scald in Two Apple (Malus x domestica) Populations. Horticultural Research 3, 16043; doi:10.1038/hortres.

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