In rainy locations, sweet cherry is cultivated under plastic covers, which are useful to prevent fruit cracking but decrease cherry quality such as firmness and acidity. Here we evaluate the impact of pre-harvest K foliar applications on harvest and post-harvest fruit quality and condition of sweet cherry cultivated under plastic covers in southern Chile orchards. The study was performed on two commercial orchards (cv. Regina), located in different regions, during two consecutive seasons. In all cases, a conventional K regime (four sprays) was compared to an intensive K regimen (seven sprays). Results showed that cherries from the most southern region revealed lower acidity but higher soluble solids content weight and size. The intensive K regime improved the firmness and acidity of fruits of covered trees at harvest and post-harvest. Moreover, we found that condition defects were higher in fruits from un-covered trees and that trees grown under intensive K regime showed lower levels of cracking at harvest and pitting at post-harvest compared to trees treated with the conventional K regime. Otherwise, pedicel browning was inconsistently affected by K sprays. Our results revealed that an intensive K regime could improve the quality and condition of fruits at harvest and post-harvest in covered orchards of sweet cherry cv. Regina; however, the impacts can significantly vary depending on season and locality.
- Foliar fertilization