Sometimes we don't see things that are not uncommon, but suddenly catch our eye. A recent lemon harvest of a trial in the Central Valley turned up lots of fruit with enlarged nipples on the stylar end. These are from a 'Limoneira 8A' rootstock trial. Not all of of the fruit was like this, but all of the rootstocks had these fruit, so it wasn't a rootstock effect.
On asking around it turns out, this happens in other places, for example on Spanish fruit:
And on Australian fruit:
And even in many normal years and orchards there is some of this special fruit
During the 2018 spring bloom there were several heat waves that hit citrus growing areas. Dr. Mary Lu Arpaia, UCR Fruit Specialist, surmises that high temperatures make for elongated fruit and quite likely impact cell division at the stylar end, as well. So the more heat spells during bloom, it's likely that we will see more of this fruit shape. It's still good to eat.
- Author: Jim Downing , UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Lucien Crowder, UC Agriculture and Natural Resou
California avocados often are exposed to high temperatures after harvest, either in the field or during preconditioning (ethylene treatment), especially in summer. It's been known that long periods of high temperatures can delay ripening time and reduce fruit quality, but a new study indicates pronounced effects after only short periods of high temperature following harvest. Authors of the study concluded that it's important to maintain avocados at temperatures below 25°C following harvest and that the ideal temperature to ripen the fruit is 20°C. The authors also found that ripening below 20°C resulted in significantly longer ripening times and resulted in poorer coloration of the ripened fruit.
Mary Lu Arpaia, UC Cooperative Extension specialist, Jim Sievert and Sue Collin, staff research associates (retired) in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences at UC Riverside, working with David Obenland, research physiologist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Parlier, studied for two seasons holding avocados from multiple harvest times for the first 24 or 48 hours of the ripening period at high temperatures (20°C to 35°C), with and without ethylene. In the third season, they made a detailed assessment of ripening temperatures (15°C to 25°C) on ripening time and fruit quality.
Results from the first two seasons showed that even a 24-hour exposure to temperatures of 25°C and above inhibits ripening and increases postharvest disorders such as stem end rot and body rot. In season 1, the incidence of stem end rot increased from 9.7% at 20°C to 32.3% at 35°C, and body rot increased from 3.9% to 20.2% for the same treatment comparison. Ethylene applied during the exposure period was ineffective in preventing the disorders.
In the third-season trial, temperature was also shown to be critical. Fruit ripened below 20°C took slightly longer to ripen. Additionally, the authors found that the ripened fruit at either 15°C or 18°C remained more green then fruit ripened at the higher temperatures. Avocados ripened above 20°C were more likely to develop pink discoloration in the mesocarp. Ripening temperature had no effect on overall likeability, or ratings of grassy or rich flavor.
Mandarins, also known as “zipper skins” and “easy peelers” can have very fragile peels/skins/rinds/exocarp that make them easily subject to more damage than most oranges and lemons. Some are a bit tougher skinned than others, but some are so fragile that any rough handling often prevents them from going through conventional packing operations.
These skins were recently put to the test in the recent fires in Ojai. There was a mix of different varieties - ‘Pixie', ‘Gold Nugget', ‘W. Murcott', ‘Yosemite Gold', ‘Tahoe Gold' and others. Some of them were more sensitive than others, some were closer to the fire, all were affected by smoke to some degree. In Matilija Canyon where smoke was present for many more days than in the east of the Ojai Valley and possibly more ash, the trees have started flowering sooner. That might be temperature difference, either cooler or warmer, so it is hard to say how much effect the smoke has had versus, the ash and/or heat. Smoke has many different gasses in it, one of which is ethylene which is a naturally occurring ripening agent. Smoke not only has gasses, but it occludes the sun so less or more or altered light might have an effect on these fruit. It's not a controlled experiment, so some little scientist is going to have to come along and wriggle out these different effects. Whatever. Fire and smoke have an effect on mandarins as we have seen in other crops, such as cherimoya, avocados and other citrus.
Heat damage. Fruit facing the fire.
Ash effects on fruit coloring. Fruit was covered with ash for several days until rain washed it off. Might be a pH effect (ash is alkaline), temperature effect, uneven light radiation, or other…….
Same sort of uneven coloring, that actually looks like an ashy color, but the ash has washed off the cluster by rain
And here's something interesting where fruit facing the fire is much lighter colored than fruit facing away from the fire. Here are two pieces of fruit, one from the side directly facing the fire, and the other from the other side of the tree. The side of that fruit facing the fire was also lighter colored. So, it had an effect through the canopy (small tree). The canopy was otherwise intact, unaffected heat or flames.
Oh yeah, and there is the characteristic fruit drop from either the heat, smoke gases, water stress or ….
And then there's the fruit that looks like it had actual embers on the skin.
If the tree survives and keeps its green leaves, sometimes the fruit is affected in ways that don't appear for a while. The peel may be affected, but in many cases the fruit is just as sweet as it could be. It just looks terrible. That might even be a selling point. "Here have a wonderous piece of history that braved the horror of the Ojai fires."
Something hit the citrus trees of Riverside in late December 2017. Some vandal spraying herbicide? It was too widespread. It was all over town, orchards and backyards. It was on the north and east sides of trees. It didn't happen in Ventura or Santa Barbara. It probably happened to a lot of other plant species, but our correspondent had eyes only for citrus.
It sure looks like it could have been a cold, freezing wind, but on closer consultation with our Citrus Specialist, Peggy Mauk who also directs the Agricultural Operations at UC Riverside – it was the demon wind. The Satan Wind. The Santa Ana that dried out the trees that had not gotten sufficient water to cool themselves and had dried out on the windward side of the tree and orchard. Burned, in effect. This is the side of the orchard that dries out the most. It's what's called the “clothes line” effect. The margins that dry first because of the greater exposure to wind, sun and usually lower humidity. In this case, way lower. And by the time the damage was noticed a week later, the winds had been forgotten. Expect more water stress in our future.
- Author: Tim Spann, CA Avocado Commission
Avocado Heat Advisory Temperatures are forecast to be in the triple digit range throughout much of the southern California avocado growing region beginning Sunday June 19 and extending into Tuesday June 21. The National Weather Service (NWS) is predicting maximum temperatures between 100 and 110 degrees with similar heat index readings away from the immediate coast for Ventura and Los Angeles Counties. In Riverside, San Diego and Orange Counties, NWS predictions are for 95 to 105 degrees in the valleys, and 105 to 113 degrees in the inland empire and high desert.
To ensure that California avocados maintain their superior quality it is imperative that growers manage their trees and harvest their fruit according to the best management practices as outlined below.
IRRIGATION Growers should be irrigating their trees now, in advance of the heat, to ensure that their trees are fully hydrated. An additional 50% of the budgeted amount of water is recommended to be applied the day before a heat wave. For extended heat waves, daily pulses of irrigation are recommended to maintain the trees' water status. A well-watered tree will tolerate the stress of a heat wave much better than a tree that is suffering from water stress. Signs of heat damage to trees include fruit drop, shoot damage, leaf burn and in severe cases leaf drop.
HARVESTING Every attempt should be made to harvest fruit when temperatures are below 90 °F, and no harvesting should take place when temperatures exceed 95 °F. Temperature in the shade should be monitored during harvesting and, when possible, harvesting crews should be moved to the coolest, least exposed areas of the grove.
Field bins should be placed under the trees while being filled to protect the harvested fruit from sunburn. Once filled, bins should be moved to a shade structure (open-sided roofed building), or covered with bin covers or light-colored tarps if they cannot be immediately transported to the packinghouse. Never leave filled bins exposed to the direct sun. The surface layer of fruit can easily heat up to more than 15 °F above ambient temperature when exposed to direct sun. Acute sunburn will only show on fruit after it is packed and is a major quality detractor.
To avoid water loss and decreased fruit quality do not hold fruit too long after harvest. Transport fruit to the packinghouse at least once per day, if not twice daily. Bins should not be left in the grove for more than 8 hours after harvest. Cover bins during transport to avoid sunburn and to reduce water loss.
Photos: Leaf sunburn, fruit sunburn