Balancing total soluble solids and acidity ratio in stone fruit

The TSS/Acidity ratio of fruit is essentially a measure of the 'sugar content' versus acidity which gives fruits characteristic taste and flavour. Balanced crop nutrition programmes help growers manage an acceptable TSS/Acidity balance in the fruit.

The TSS or ‘sugar content’ is usually obtained from assessing the Brix of the fruit. and includes the carbohydrates, organic acids, proteins, fats and minerals of the fruit.It represents from 10-20% of the fruit's fresh weight and increases as fruit matures to produce a less acidic, sweeter fruit.

During the ripening process stone fruit acids are degraded, the sugar content increases and the sugar/acid ratio reaches a higher value. A high level of acidity – common in under-ripe fruit – makes the fruit taste sour. Conversely, over-ripe fruits have very low levels of fruit acid and therefore lack characteristic flavour.

It is important that the grower aims to produce an acceptable balance of TSS and fruit acidity. The TSS/Acid ratio is a key characteristic determining the taste, texture and feel of fruit segments. It contributes towards giving many fruits their characteristic flavour. It is also an indicator of commercial and sensory ripeness.

Appropriate crop nutrition programs help to manage the TSS/Acidity balance in the fruit.

Nitrogen increass fruit acidity and also vitamin C content

Increasing nitrogen supply can increase fruit acidity and also improve vitamin C content.

However, overuse of nitrogen can reduce fruit colour and TSS contents. This is due to the improved yield and larger fruit size, which dilutes the level of TSS in the fruit.

Effect of nitrogen on acidity of sour cherries

Effect of nitrogen on peach vitamin c content

 

Effect of nitrogen on apricot acidity

Effect of nitrogen on cherry sugar content

Effect of nitrogen on soluble solids in peach

Effect of nitrogen on peach TSS levels

Potassium has a major effect on sugar levels in fruit

Potassium has a major role to play in improving the TSS and sugar levels in the fruit.

Effect of potassium on apricot sugar levels

Effect of potassium on nectarine sugar levels

Effect of potassium on peach TSS levels

The content of organic acids in the fruit is also increased by potassium. This increase in acidity may also reduce the TSS/Acid ratio. Thus, a correct potassium regime is important to manage the TSS/acid ratio, giving desirable fresh fruit of good taste and flavour.

Effect of potassium on fruit acidity

Effect of potassium on fruit acidity

Calcium increases TSS levels

Calcium can be used to manipulate the TSS/Acid ratio in fruits through increases in TSS contents, influencing fruit taste and flavour.

Effect of calcium on TSS levels in cherries

 

Effect of calcium on TSS in plums

Iron deficiency can reduce sugar levels

Use of iron may also cause an increase in the TSS/Acid ratio. Iron effectively increases the level of sugars in the fruit. Trials with iron-chelate sprays on plums show increases where iron is deficient.

Effect of iron on yield and TSS

stone fruit fertiliser and crop nutrition advice
stone fruit fertiliser and crop nutrition advice

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