|dc.description.abstract||Quantify the magnitude, sources and distribution of variation in fruit quality traits within kiwifruit populations and identify opportunities for the management of this variation.
Near-infrared (NIR) grading was used as a tool for monitoring fruit quality, and measurements combined with orchard/vine information to investigate opportunities for the management of the variation in fruit quality traits with a particular focus on fruit DM. NIR enabled non-destructive assessment of the quality characteristics of individual fruit from 96 commercial orchards, comprising 550 fruit-lines, across four consecutive seasons, resulting in a dataset of measurements made on 146.7 million individual fruit. The distribution of quality traits within fruit populations and the relationships between quality traits were examined. The spatial component of variation in fruit quality was investigated to assess the potential for zonal management practices. Finally, the effects of growth temperatures on fruit quality were studied.
Significant variation in fruit quality was observed between-seasons, between-orchards, and between-vines within an orchard. From comparison of CVs between quality traits, cropload was more variable than fruit weight which varied more than fruit DM, independent of the production scale considered (between-orchard or between-vine). Across a hierarchy of fruit populations (individual vine, fruit-line and orchard), the majority of fruit quality distributions demonstrated significant deviations from normality. However, departures from normality can be tolerated for estimation of the proportion of fruit with specific quality criteria. The sources of variation in fruit weight and DM populations were investigated at both a between-orchard scale and a within-orchard scale. Between-orchard variation was significant, however, the majority of variation occurred within-fruitlines, within-orchards and within seasons. The within-fruitline component of variation was investigated separately. Both between-vine and within-vine variation were significant, but within-vine variation was dominant. The focus of management should be on reducing variation occurring within-fruitlines within-orchards, which is largely attributable to variation occurring within the individual vine.
Higher croploads per vine have negative consequences for fruit weight but variable effects on DM. Increasing croploads reduce both FW and DW allocations for each fruit, therefore the effect of cropload on DM is dependent on the relative reductions in FW and DW. The DW allocations to fruit are not limited by DW production, at least up to the croploads observed in this study (≤65 fruit m-2).
The potential for zonal management was investigated. Variation in fruit quality characteristics between-orchards across the Te Puke growing region, and between-vines within an individual orchard area were investigated using geostatistics. A spatial component to variation was identified both between-orchard and between-vine. However, the effect of spatial variation was diluted by that of non-spatial variation and therefore, zonation between orchards or between areas within-orchards should not be where the effort in managing variation is concentrated.
Orchard altitude correlated with some aspects of fruit quality. Mean fruit weight declined 0.5g and within-orchard variation in fruit weight declined 0.25 units with a 25m increase in orchard altitude. Mean fruit DM was independent of orchard altitude and within-orchard variability in DM declined 0.023 units per 25m increase in orchard altitude. Differences in orchard altitude equated with differences in growth temperatures. Warm spring and cool summer temperatures favour the growth of high DM fruit. The effects of spring temperatures on canopy development and maturation were investigated to elucidate potential physiological mechanisms for temperatures effects on fruit growth. Higher spring growth temperatures increased the rate of total leaf area development and promoted development of leaf photosynthesis. Higher spring growth temperatures favoured a more positive carbon balance, which has beneficial effects on the development of fruit quality characteristics.
Post-harvest, the traditional practice of grading fruit into count sizes generally also segregates for DM, and large count size fruit will often have higher DM than small sized fruit. Between fruit populations, a positive correlation was identified between fruit DM and acidity; therefore, segregation of the inventory by DM will also segregate for acidity. High DM fruit are also more acidic with a higher, more favourable brix/acid ratio when ripe. It is recommended that fruit DM status be managed in the inventory, not by maturity area as is the current practice, but by groups of similar count sizes within maturity areas.||en_NZ