Notes from the CA storage workshop.
On August 18 Don Shelby (manager of the Shoreham Co-op) and I attended a workshop in Ithaca, NY designed for growers, storage operators and packers who aim to maximize market quality, especially those who have CA facilities or who are considering having these facilities. The workshop was coordinated by Chris Watkins (Dept of Fruits and Vegetable Sciences, Cornell University). The main focus of the workshop was how to maintain fruit quality during storage. Following are Chris Watkins comments on the 1999 harvest and their effect on fruit storage :
It is too early to know for sure if droughty conditions will continue this year. However, if they do, there is potential for predisposition of McIntosh (and by analogy, Empire) to senescent breakdown during storage. Dave Blanpied and Bob Smock found that a 10-day period in August or September with a daily maximum temperature of 84 F or higher, accompanied by less than 0.1 inches of rain during the period, would undoubtedly be followed by a high incidence of McIntosh breakdown. This problem can seldom be controlled but can be reduced to commercially acceptable levels by following the following guidelines:
1. Avoid long-term storage of apples from perennially offending blocks.
Fruit from light cropping and young trees should also be marketed early in the season;
2. Harvest CA apples before the optimum harvest date;
3. Use a postharvest dip treatment of calcium chloride;
4. Store at 32 F in air or CA with 2-3% oxygen and 3-5% carbon dioxide.
I want to expand on the recommendations of Blanpied and Smock with regard to the last point. A hot growing season generally results in a low risks of chilling injury. Therefore, if you are planning to store fruit in CA no later than March it may be worth the risk of storing fruits towards the lower end of the recommended range. If high temperatures continue in August, then Empire should be stored at the lower
end of the normal temperature range, e.g. 34 F, and perhaps even lower if you are brave enough, and not planning storage beyond April/May. The bottom line, is that if you had storage problems last year with certain varieties, these are likely to reoccur during the 1999/2000 storage season.
Readjust your marketing schedule if necessary.