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Acidity drop and coloration in clementine: Implications for fruit quality and harvesting practices

Julhia L., Belmin R., Meynard J.M., Pailly O., Casabianca F.. 2019. Frontiers in Plant Science, 10 : 10 p..

DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2019.00754

The commercial quality of fruit is the result of a combination of internal (acidity, sugars, juice, etc.) and external characteristics (shape, size, color, visual defects, etc.). On citrus, the internal maturity of fruit is often reached prior and independently to their external maturity, inducing the use of degreening practices to artificially color fruit. However, for some sectors where degreening is not authorized, such as organic farming or up-market, it is important to understand the co-occurrence between fruit coloration and internal ripening, and its impact on fruit quality and harvesting management. Our study was based on a monitoring of the color and acidity of Protected Geographical Indication ¿Clémentine de Corse¿ orchards of producers in 2013 and 2014. Our results show that: (i) the dynamics of acidity drop during maturation are similar from one plot to another but staggered in time; (ii) fruit coloring occurs at different times during acidity drop; (iii) the synchronization between the coloring process and acidity drop determines both the quality of harvested fruit and the period during which orchards are harvestable, which we called the ¿harvestability window.¿ This study sheds new light on the quality of citrus harvested without fruit degreening and leads to propose actions to anticipate internal maturity evolution according to the coloring and spreading of the harvest period. The fruit acidity model obtained in this study will be extended to a practical application tool to predict fruit acidity and quality for a better-controlled harvest management.

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