September heat leads to early topfruit harvest

The next two weeks will be crucial for the final quality of the fruit.

According to the records of the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA), the plant's flowering started seven or eight days before their historical average because of the unusually warm days in September, which is now affecting the fruit's maturity.

Thus, the apples and pears are ripening before scheduled and, if weather conditions are maintained, its very probable the harvest could start ahead of time.
Even though there's only one administrative formality remaining for the National Health Service and Food Quality (SENASA) to approve this season's schedule, which was sent by the INTA, it is almost certain that the times will move forward.

Harvest usually occurs 106 days after the plants bloom, and since this year they bloomed in early September, it appears that the harvest will happen before originally scheduled.
"This year's increased production will offset last year's decline. It is likely that things will happen on the first week of January. The next two weeks will be crucial for the fruit's quality, as they need high temperatures, but they can't be higher than the average of recent years," said agronomist Theophilus Gomila, member of INTA's postharvest area.

If the fruit receives more heat than needed, they won't develop a good skin and the fruits will be more sensitive than normal to friction and knocks.

Gomila said the Maturity Program would be sampling the fruits to assess their state of maturity and to see if its possible to advance the harvest as the date approaches.

Quality details
Fruit quality according to INTA:

• A good crop of red apples is expected.
• According to INTA's Climatology area, the growth rate of the Williams pear will be smaller than last season, despite their early flowering, because of a lower heat accumulation in the period of cell division of the fruits (first 30 days).
• Expectations are there might be some cases of calibre restrictions by the start of harvest.
• Quality problems in D'Anjou because of stains.

Details are still preliminary and the confirmation of when the harvest starts is expected in the short term.


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