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Deficit irrigation strategies combined with controlled atmosphere preserve quality in early peaches

Falagán, Natalia, Artés, Francisco, Gómez, Perla A, Artés-Hernández, Francisco, Conejero, Wenceslao, Aguayo, Encarna
air, ascorbic acid, bioactive compounds, carbon dioxide, color, controlled atmosphere storage, deficit irrigation, dehydroascorbic acid, evapotranspiration, fruit quality, fruits, gallic acid, irrigation management, oxygen, peaches, relative humidity, ripening, sensory evaluation, shelf life, shrinkage, total soluble solids, water shortages, water stress, weight loss, Mediterranean region
Due to the water scarcity in the Mediterranean countries, irrigation must be optimized while keeping fruit quality. The effect of deficit irrigation strategies on changes in quality parameters of the early “Flordastar” peaches was studied. The deficit irrigation was programmed according to signal intensity of the maximum daily trunk shrinkage; deficit irrigation plants were irrigated to maintain maximum daily trunk shrinkage signal intensity values close to 1.4 or 1.3 in the case of DI₁ or DI₂ plants, respectively. Results were compared to a control watered at 150% crop evapotranspiration. Fruits were stored up to 14 days at 0 ℃ and 95% Relative Humidity (RH) in air or in controlled atmosphere (controlled atmosphere; 3–4 kPa O₂ and 12–14 kPa CO₂), followed by a retail sale period of 4 days at 15 ℃ and 90–95% Relative Humidity in air. Weight losses were lower in controlled atmosphere stored peaches from deficit irrigation. Air-stored fruits developed a more intense red color due to a faster ripening, which was not affected by the type of watering. At harvest, deficit irrigation peaches showed higher soluble solids content, which provided a better sensory evaluation. The soluble phenolic content was initially higher (55.26 ± 0.18 mg gallic acid equivalents/100 g fresh weight) and more stable throughout postharvest life in DI₁ fruits than in those from the other irrigation treatments. Concerning vitamin C, control fruits at harvest showed higher ascorbic acid than dehydroascorbic acid content (5.43 versus 2.43 mg/100 g fresh weight, respectively), while water stressed peaches showed the opposite results. The combination of DI₂ and controlled atmosphere storage allowed saving a significant amount of water and provided peaches with good overall quality, maintaining the bioactive compounds analyzed.