Abstract ‘ Kinnow’ mandarin (Citrus nobilis L.× Citrus deliciosa T.) is an important marketable fruit of the world. It is mainstay of citrus industry in Pakistan, having great export potential. But out of total production of the country only 10% of the produce meets the international quality standard for export. Pre-harvest fruit drop and poor fruit quality could be associated with various issues including the plant nutrition. Most of the farmers do not pay attention to the supply of micro nutrients which are already deficient in the soil. Furthermore, their mobility within plants is also a question. Zinc (Zn) is amongst those micronutrients which affect the quality and postharvest life of the fruit and its deficiency in Pakistani soils is already reported by many researchers. Therefore, this study was carried out to evaluate the influence of pre-harvest applications of zinc sulfate (ZnSO4; 0, 0.4%, 0.6% or 0.8%) on pre-harvest fruit drop, yield and fruit quality of ‘Kinnow’ mandarin at harvest. The treatments were applied during the month of October i.e. 4 months prior to harvest. The applied Zn sprays had significant effect on yield and quality of the “Kinnow” fruit. Amongst different foliar applications of ZnSO4applied four months before harvest, 0.6% ZnSO4 significantly reduced pre-harvest fruit drop (10.08%) as compared to untreated control trees (46.45%). Similarly, the maximum number of fruits harvested per tree (627), fruit weight (192.9 g), juice percentage (42.2%), total soluble solids (9.5 °Brix), ascorbic acid content (35.5 mg 100 g-1) and sugar contents (17.4) were also found significantly higher with 0.6% ZnSO4 treatment as compared to rest of treatments and control. Foliar application of 0.6% ZnSO4 also significantly improved total antioxidants (TAO) and total phenolic contents (TPC) in fruit. In conclusion, foliar spray of ZnSO4 (0.6%) four months prior to harvest reduced pre-harvest fruit drop, increase yield with improved quality of ‘Kinnow’ mandarin fruit.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture citrus scion breeding program is urgently working on developing huanglongbing (HLB; pathogen Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus)-tolerant cultivars with excellent fruit quality and productivity when HLB-affected. The slow process of assessing new citrus hybrids is a major impediment to delivery of these much-needed cultivars. We generate thousands of hybrids each year, germinate the seedlings, grow them for 2 years in the greenhouse, plant them at high density in a field where the disease HLB is abundant, grow them for 5 to 10 years, and make selections based on tree performance and fruit quality of these HLB-affected trees. Based on promising reports of accelerated citrus growth when grown in a metallized reflective mulch (MRM) system, we tested the hypothesis that the MRM system may accelerate growth and selection of new hybrid seedlings compared with conventional soil culture (CSC). In the MRM system, tree rows are covered with a layer of metallized plastic film and drip irrigation is installed beneath the plastic. In 2 years of analysis, tree canopy volume was significantly greater with MRM in 2020 (27% greater than CSC) but not in 2021, and MRM tree height was greater in 2021 (7% greater than CSC). Mortality was significantly greater with MRM in both 2020 and 2021(in 2021: 32% vs. 17% under CSC), and MRM trees had more chlorotic leaves. Because of staff limitations, plant debris and soil were not routinely cleared from MRM, thus diminishing any benefit from the reflective surface. Better maintenance might have resulted in more sustained evidence of MRM growth benefits. With the current resource availability, the MRM system does not appear to accelerate the assessment of hybrid seedling trees.