Understanding of the physiological effect of post-full-bloom foliar boron combined with calcium (B+Ca) on apple (Malus domestica) peel tissues is envisaged to give way to the unknown mode-of-action by which these mineral regimens suppress fruit sunburn-browning incidence in orchards. Promotion of this mineral approach among growers, as a certainly cheaper alternative to mitigate fruit sunburn-browning incidence in apple orchards necessitates clear elucidation of its mode-of-action. This study investigated peel photosynthetic pigments and total peroxides (as a measure of oxidative stress) in three apple cultivars, ‘Cripps Pink’, ‘Golden Delicious’ and ‘Granny Smith’ which were treated with four B+Ca treatments varying in levels of B and Ca as well as inclusion of zinc (Zn) in one treatment. Randomized complete block design experiments with five replications were conducted at commercial farms in Western Cape, South Africa. Significant (p < 0.05) treatment effect for major pigment aspects and total peroxides occurred in all cultivars, but with strong influence of cultivar and fruit age. For instance, effect of varying B, Ca and possible B+Ca duet-effect on photosynthetic pigments occurred in ‘Cripps Pink’, whereas the Zn-treatment was mainly responsible for significant treatment effects in both ‘Golden Delicious’ and ‘Granny Smith’ apples. Significant treatment effect for total peroxides occurred in ‘Cripps Pink’ and ‘Granny Smith’, yet significant interaction effect occurred with ‘Golden Delicious’, however, these significant results did not yield meaningful peel oxidative stress differences among the treatments. Foliar treatment differences in photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm) were not sig nificant. The study concludes with firm evidence that foliar B+Ca treatment composition has a significant effect on apple peel photosynthetic pigments depending on cultivar, and Zn is not desirable in the formulation of these treatments.
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