Replanting Affects the Tree Growth and Fruit Quality of Gala Apple
Apple replant disease (ARD) causes the inhibition of root system development, stunts tree growth and so on. To further investigate the effects of ARD on apple fruits, a 25-year-old apple orchard was remediated to establish a replant orchard between November 2008 and March 2009. A rotational cropping orchard was established on an adjacent wheat field. The cultivar and rootstock-scion combination used in the newly established orchards was Royal Gala/M26/Malus hupehensis Rehd. Ripe fruits were collected in mid-August 2011 and mid-August 2012, meanwhile, the following indices were measured: yield per plant; fruit weight; the fruit shape index; the contents of anthocyanin, carotenoid and chlorophyll; the soluble sugar content in the flesh; titratable acid; the sugar-acid ratio; firmness; and aroma components; apple plant ground diameter, plant height increment and the total length of the current-year shoots. The results showed that compared to rotational cropping, continuous cropping yielded statistically significant reductions in fruit weight and yield per plant of 39.8 and 76.5%, respectively. However, there were no changes in the fruit shape index. The anthocyanin and carotenoid contents decreased by 81.7 and 37.7%, respectively, while the chlorophyll content increased by 251.0%. All of these differences in content were statistically significant. The soluble sugar levels and sugar-acid ratio decreased by 25.4 and 60.9%, respectively, but the titratable acid levels and fruit firmness increased by 90.9 and 42.8%, respectively. Ten of the most important esters contributing to the apple aroma were analyzed, and the following changes were observed: hexyl acetate, butyl acetate, hexyl butyrate, acetate-2-methyl butyl, 2-methyl-hexyl butyrate, amyl acetate, butyl butyrate, 2-methyl-butyl butyrate, hexyl propionate and hexyl hexanoate decreased by 25.5, 78.4, 89.1, 55.5, 79.5, 77.2, 86.8, 69.9, 61.2, and 68.1%, respectively. The contents of three other aroma components, (E)-2-hexenal, hexanal and 1-hexanol, significantly increased. Eight characteristic aroma components were found in the rotational cropping fruits: hexyl acetate, butyl acetate, acetate-2-methyl butyl, 2-methyl-hexyl butyrate, amyl acetate, 2-methyl- butyl butyrate, hexyl acetate and hexyl propionate. There were four characteristic ester components (hexyl acetate, butyl acetate, acetate-2-methyl butyl, 2-methyl-hexyl butyrate) and two characteristic aldehyde aroma components ((E)-2-hexenal and hexanal) in the continuous cropping fruits. Compared with the rotational cropping fruits, four characteristic ester components were declined and two characteristic aldehyde aroma components were increased. Compared with the control, replanted apple plant ground diameter, plant height increment and the total length of the current-year shoots were reduced by 27.6, 40.6 and 72.2%, respectively.