Pollination treatment affects fruit set and modifies marketable and storable fruit quality of commercial apples

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Insect-mediated pollination increases yields of many crop species and some evidence suggests that it also influences crop quality. However, the mechanistic linkages between insect-mediated pollination and crop quality are poorly known. In this study, we explored how different pollination treatments affected fruit set, dry matter content (DMC), mineral content and storability of apples. Apple flowers supplementary pollinated with compatible pollen resulted in higher initial fruit set rates, higher fruit DMC and a tendency for lower fruit potassium (K): calcium (Ca) ratio than flowers that received natural or no pollination. These variables are related to desirable quality aspects, because higher DMC is connected to higher consumer preference and lower K: Ca ratio is related to lower incidence of postharvest disorders during storage. Using structural equation modelling, we showed an indirect effect of pollination treatment on storability, however mediated by complex interactions between fruit set, fruit weight and K: Ca ratio. The concentrations of several elements in apples (K, zinc, magnesium) were affected by the interaction between pollination treatment and apple weight, indicating that pollination affects element allocation into fruits. In conclusion, our study shows that pollination and the availability of compatible pollen needs to be considered in the management of orchard systems, not only to increase fruit set, but also to increase the quality and potentially the storability of apples.


External organisations
  • Stockholm University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Food Science


  • Dry matter content, Fruit quality, Malus domestica, Minerals, Pollination, Storage time
Original languageEnglish
Article number190326
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Dec 1
Publication categoryResearch