Bio-chemical properties and susceptibility to fire blight (Erwinia amylovora Burrill) of scab-resistant apple cultivars (Malus domestica Borkh.)

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The focus of our research was to evaluate different apples cultivars in terms of their biological properties and bioactive compounds content, and determine the levels of their resistance (or susceptibility) to fire blight. The properties of 10 scab-resistant apple cultivars were examined on the Žiča monastery estate (West Serbia) during the period from 2011 to 2015. The biological and chemical properties such as firmness, maturity stage, total soluble solids, total acids, total and reducing sugars, ascorbic acid content and surface blush of apple fruits were monitored. Various phenolic compounds in the tested samples were tentatively identified by LC-MS analyses. A study of generative properties included: number of flower buds, fruit mass and width, crop load, yield efficiency and yield. During the period of blooming and intensive shoot growth, artificial inoculations were carried out. For each cultivar, a fire blight score was determined by dividing the average length of necrotic tissue by the average total shoot length. In the study period, the cultivars ‘GoldRush’ (41.1 t ha−1) and ‘Florina’ (35.9 t ha−1) produced the highest yields, and the cultivars ‘Discovery’ (19.0 t ha−1) and Selection 25/63 (15.1 t ha−1) the lowest. The cultivar ‘William’s Pride’ produced the largest fruits, with an average fruit mass of 206.8 g. The earliest harvest period was recorded for the cultivar ‘Discovery’ (end of July), and the latest for the cultivar ‘GoldRush’ (beginning of October). The cultivar ‘Enterprise’ had the highest value of total phenols (432.2 mg 100 g−1 FW), while the cultivar ‘Topaz’ had the highest value of total flavanols (145.2 mg 100 g−1 FW). The highest degree of susceptibility to fire blight was found in Selection 25/63, and the greatest resistance was manifested by the cultivar ‘GoldRush’. In the five-year study period, the cultivars ‘GoldRush’, ‘Rewena’ and ‘Enterprise’ exhibited better bio-chemical properties and higher levels of resistance to fire blight than the remaining cultivars.

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