Nutritional unbalances, such as calcium deficiency at the fruit level, are generally the causative agent of post-harvest disorders in apples. Foliar application of Ca as calcium chloride is the current solution to increase Ca concentration in apples, even though the effectiveness of this approach is often not satisfactory. In this research, we tested the efficacy of a combined application of Ca with selected biostimulants to improve apple quality and to reduce the incidence of storage disorders. The experiment was conducted in two “Jonathan” apple orchards that differed in management systems and characteristics. Tree canopies were sprayed with calcium chloride alone and in combination with a commercial product containing zinc and silicon or a seaweed extract. The seaweed extract increased apple quality by boosting the reddish coloration (+32% of color index) and by enhancing final anthocyanin concentration of fruit skin. Both biostimulants significantly reduced (by 20%) the incidence of the physiological disorder, known as “Jonathan spot”, after 160 days of storage. Increased concentration of nutrients (Ca, Zn, and Mn) in the skin of apples after biostimulant applications, together with changes of the phenolic profile during the storage, are discussed as the possible causes of the reduced fruit susceptibility to post-harvest disorders.
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