From: "Clive Simms" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Lon J Rombough" <email@example.com>
Subject: Assorted trivia
Date: Thu, Dec 7, 2000, 12:07 AM
Just heard on the radio...... why don't Cox's Orange Pippin apples rattle anymore when shaken. This once used to be a clear sign of a ripe apple but alas no more. Any ideas?
The use of large amounts of nitrogen causes produce to hold more water. My husband grew up in what was then a 3rd world country, Ireland, and remembers the change in potatoes when Irish farmers began using artificial fertilizers. He said potatoes became more watery. Studies comparing organic vs chemical produce found no real difference when samples are ashed and the ashes compared. But when equal weights of the produce itself were compared in a Canadian study, organic produce averaged 90% more of all nutrients tested for. This appears to suggest that the amount of non water constituents are higher in organic produce. People who switch to organic produce have been known to comment that they didn't seem to need to eat as much.
It seems to me that if the Cox's in the old days had a higher carbohydrate vs water content, then as the apple matured and starch changed to sugar, and the fruit dried out a bit in storage, that the changes occurring would be more dramatic than in a waterlogged high nitrogen fruit.
This reminds me, I read in an old USDA publication that low nitrogen causes fruit to color very brightly. Red is used as a marker by plants to birds that's dinner is served. Presumably this started with little red crab apples, bird bite sized. If the redness of any particular variety has something to do with ripeness, then low nitrogen would signal ripeness more frantically than usual. Would we be able to taste the difference? Would a brix meter show the difference? (Can't we all, every one of us taste the difference in backyard vs commerical tomatoes? And one study of tomato flavor vs nutrition level showed that the best tasting tomatoes were the most nutritious.) Red is not much of an issue on Cox, but this might lead to a few experiments.
If someone with 2 or more trees of any given variety would like to vary the N levels next summer, they are likely to note differences in color, crispness, keeping ability between low and high N trees. Clive, can you find someone with Cox's trees to try it? Or can you find a neglected tree to compare to the commercial product? I'd like to see it tried with something like a Macintosh, that here in the south seldom develops good color. Maybe throw a little sawdust around late in the summer..... Donna
P.S. I can think of a totally different reason for the change....when the apples are picked. They may have been a little riper when picked a few decades ago. (This definitely holds true in the case of homegrown vs commercial tomatoes.)