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When do apples stop growing, and why does it matter?

Christodoulou, M. D. ORCID: and Culham, A. ORCID: (2021) When do apples stop growing, and why does it matter? PLOS ONE, 16 (6). e0252288. ISSN 1932-6203

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0252288


Apples in the commercial food chain are harvested up to two weeks before maturity. We explore apple fruit development through the growing season to establish the point at which physical features differentiating those cultivars become evident. This is relevant both for the understanding of the growing process and to ensure that any identification and classification tools can be used both on ripened-on-tree and stored fruit. Current literature presents some contradictory findings on apple growth, we studied 12 apple cultivars in the Brogdale National Fruit Collection, UK over two seasons to establish patterns of growth. Fruit were sampled at regular time points throughout the growing season and four morphometrics (maximum length, maximum diameter, weight, and centroid size) were collected. These were regressed against growing degree days in order to appropriately describe the growth pattern observed. All four morphometrics were adequately described using log-log linear regressions, with adjusted R2 estimates ranging from 78.3% (maximum length) to 86.7% (weight). For all four morphometrics, a 10% increase in growing degree days was associated with a 1% increase in the morphometric. Our findings refine previous work presenting rapid early growth followed by a plateau in later stages of development and contrast with published expo-linear models. We established that apples harvested for commercial storage purposes, two weeks prior to maturity, showed only a modest decrease in size compared with ripened-on-tree fruit, demonstrating that size morphometric approaches are appropriate for classification of apple fruit at point of harvest.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:98638
Uncontrolled Keywords:Research Article, Biology and life sciences, Research and analysis methods, Physical sciences
Publisher:Public Library of Science


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