QUALITY OF IRRIGATED APPLES IN THE SEMIARID REGION OF THE NORTHEAST OF BRAZIL

ABSTRACT The great solar radiation in the Brazilian semiarid region, combined with an adequate irrigation management, favors fruit production and quality of crops that were adapted to this region. The objective of this work was to evaluate the fruit quality of two apple cultivars grown in the Sub-Mid São Francisco River Valley under different irrigation water depths. A complete randomized block experimental design in a split -plot arrangement with five replications was used. The plots consisted of four irrigation water depths (ID) (60, 80, 100 and 120% of the reference evapotranspiration - ETo), the subplots consisted of two apple cultivars (C) (Julieta and Princesa) and the sub-subplots consisted of fruit positions in the tree canopies (FP) (east and west sides). The soluble solids content (SS), titratable acidity (TA), SS/TA ratio, pulp firmness (PF) and fresh weight (FW) of the fruits were evaluated. The factors evaluated showed no triple interaction between the evaluated factors, however, the SS and TA were significantly affected by them; the interaction between ID and C significantly affected the PF; the interaction between ID and FP significantly affected the PF, SS/TA ratio and FW; and the interaction between C and FP significantly affected the SS/TA ratio. The increase in water depth increased the fruit size of both cultivars, without compromising the post-harvest quality. The cultivar Princesa presented the best results regarding SS, TA, PF and FW, however, both cultivars had organoleptic characteristics within the recommended standards for commercialization. The fruits harvested on the west side presented better post-harvest quality.