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Plant extracts treatment along with flower bud thinning promotes cactus pear production and fruit quality

Hussien, M. A., Ahmed, Z. F. R.
Acta horticulturae 2018 no.1216 pp. 127-134
Nigella sativa, acidity, cactus pears, clove oil, drought, flower buds, flowering, fruit juices, fruit quality, fruit set, fruits, nutritive value, plant extracts, plant hormones, plantations, pulp, salinity, seed oils, semiarid zones, total soluble solids, turmeric, Egypt
Cactus pear is a high-value crop that grows well in arid and semi-arid regions around the world. The area of cactus pear plantations in Egypt has expanded in the past few years due to its nutritional value and tolerance to drought and salinity. Improving growth and productivity of this crop under these stressful conditions can be achieved in many ways i.e., fertilization, fruit thinning, plant hormone, and plant extracts application. In the present study, plant extracts such as clove oil, turmeric extract, and Nigella sativa seed oil (thymoquinon) were utilized to investigate their effect along with flower bud thinning on cactus pear productivity and fruit quality. During the 2014 and 2015 seasons, 12-year-old plants were sprayed with plant extracts, each at 0.25 and 0.5 g L-1 concentrations, three times: before flowering, after fruit set and 21 days after that. The flower bud thinning treatments were done after bud emergence at 4, 6, 8 and 10 bud cladode-1. The results showed that thinning slightly increased the yield while thinning plus spray applications substantially increased it in both seasons compared to control. Fruit characteristics (fruit weight, fruit size, pulp weight, fruit juice acidity and total soluble solids) were also dramatically promoted by all treatments. The highest productivity and the best fruit characteristics were obtained with turmeric extract (0.5 g L-1) along with thinning at 8 buds cladode-1. The results of this study suggest that this treatment may have the potential for improving cactus pear fruit production in term of quantity and quality.