Possible factors influencing fruit cracking in fruit plants
Authors: Kuldeep Singh, Gururaj Mathapati

Fruit cracking:

“The physical failure of the fruit skin” occurs in the form of fractures in the skin or cuticle that typically doesn’t penetrate the flesh. Splitting is more extreme form of cracking that penetrates deep into the pulp. Cracked fruits are susceptible to disease of storage and their storage and shelf life are shorter. Fruit cracking occur during fruit growth, development and ripening. Also, it can occur during postharvest in some fruits, mostly attributable to the environmental conditions of storage. Fruit cracking commonly found in sweet cherry, plum, apricot, apple, litchi, pomegranate, citrus, banana, avocado, grape, persimmon, peach, tomato, pistachio, fig etc.

Research obstacles:

  • Erratic in occurrence (year and location).
  • Poor correlation with weather and soil condition.
  • Variable fruit to fruit susceptibility.
  • Distinct genetic difference.
  • Fruit cracking is difficult to study, even in controlled conditions, because we lack experimental methods to induce cracking.
  • No. of factors responsible fruit cracking

Type of fruit cracking

  • There are many types of fruit cracking based on species:
  1. Longitudinal or burst cracking
  2. Ring or concentric cracking
  3. Crazing or russeting
  4. Star or radial cracking
  5. Core failure
  • Radical cracking is developed from the radical section of stem towards the fruit center.
  • Concentric cracking is appeared on fruit that leads to cracking in a single fruit which is known as concentric e.g., sweet cherry
  • Crazing or russeting a minute hairline cracks invisible to naked eyes cover the 25% of fruit surface. e.g., Tomato, Apple.

    Factor influencing fruit cracking
  • There are many factors that influence fruit cracking:
  1. Physiological and biochemical factor: water uptake by the fruit, water potential, dynamics of fruit growth, Hormones and Enzymes.
  2. Nutritional deficiency
  3. Genetic factor: Gene expression, Varietal susceptibility

  1. Physiological and biochemical factors

  1. Water uptake by the fruit:
Water absorbed through the roots during fruit ripening induces an increase in the internal turgor pressure of the fruit. Water absorption through fruit skin is the most important factor in the development of this phenomenon.

  1. Water potential:
Water potential is a useful parameter which determines fruit susceptibility to rain-induced cracking during fruit development and the appropriate time to apply external treatments to mitigate this problem (Torres et al., 2009). Increased total soluble sugars, total titratable acid or importation of assimilates and nutrients in fruit pulp during fruit maturation leads to decreased water potential. Water absorption due to decrease in water potential can cause cells to swell, which increase the turgor pressure resulting in rupture of the cells and tissues. In wax apple, litchi and cherry.

  1. Fruit growth and development:
  • Cultivar susceptibility to cracking varies with the stage of fruit development (Christensen, 1973). For example Sweet cherry presents a double-sigmoid pattern, three distinctive growth phases:
  • Phase I -: is characterized by the rapid division of mesocarp cells.
  • Phase II -: characterized by embryo development and endocarp hardening.
  • Phase III, characterized by cell enlargement resulting in the final fruit size (critical moment for cracking).
  • As cell enlargement progress in the mesocarp, the elastic capacity of the cuticle is exceeded due to high fruit internal pressure during Phase III, which increases the incidence of cuticle fractures resulting higher water flux into the fruit (Knoche et al., 2001).
  1. Hormonal Imbalance:
  1. Gibberellic acid
  • Gibberellic acid is responsible for cell division and enlargement. GA3 applications also increase firmness of crack-prone cherry (Cline and Trought, 2007). In citrus, GA3 increases rind resistance to pressure and delay of chlorophyll breakdown (McDonald et al., 1987). Cline and Trought reported that application of GA3 reduced cracking in cherry. In litchi, spraying of GA3 (25 and 50 ppm) reduced fruit cracking.
  1. Abscisic acid
  • Yilmaz and Ozguven found that the ABA content of the peel is higher in cracked fruits than in the peel of non-cracked fruits of litchi.
  • (Sharma and Dhillon 1998) observed that ABA content in pericarp is higher in cracking fruits than in the healthy fruits of litchi.
  1. Enzymes
  • Pectin esterase (PE) and polygalacturonase (PG) are the key enzymes involved in the process of plant pectin degradation. Cellulose (EG) is one of the key enzymes involved in cellulose degradation. β-galactosidases (β-Gal) reduce the levels of cell wall galactosyl residues in ripening tomato fruits. Xyloglucan endotransglycosylase (XET) catalyses the transglycosylation of xyloglucan, the major hemicelluloses polymer, which is thought to mediate cross-linking of cellulose microfibrils in cell walls and is proposed to be involved in the control of cell wall relaxation .
  1. Nutrient deficiency:

  1. Calcium:
  • Calcium is a structural component of cell membranes and walls. It has role in the processes of cell division and growth. Fruit tissues are supplied with Ca+2 bytranspiration stream which translocate Ca +2 directly from the soil solution. If the xylem sap is poor in Ca+2 or transpiration rate of the fruit is poor, inadequate level of Ca+2 supplied to the fruit. Low calcium concentration in pericarp cells is correlated with fruit cracking in tomato and litchi. Application of calcium chloride (3%) reduced cracking in pomegranate (Punica granatum L.). Calcium develop thicker epidermal and sub-epidermal layer of cell wall in grape and decrease berry cracking under critical turgor pressure.
  1. Boron:
  • Boron has role in the synthesis of pectic substances, its application checks fruit cracking in apple. In young trees, boron deficiency causes fruit cracking in pomegranate. 0.2% boron spray to control fruit cracking in pomegranate.
  1. Other nutrients
  • Imbalances in potassium (K) and phosphorous (P) can contribute to thin or weak rind and increase chances of splitting in citrus. Increased leaf P-content, a decrease in rind thickness in contrast, an increase in leaf K-content, increase in rind thickness and coarseness.

    Genetic factors:

  1. Gene expression:

  • Expansins are proteins in cell wall that can promote wall loosening and weakening during cell expansion. Expansins isolated from Litchi (Yong et al., 2006), Apple (Wakasa et al., 2003), Peach (Hayama et al., 2001), Tomato (Brummell et al., 1999) and showed correlation with fruit development. In apple MdEXPA3 is mainly appeared during fruit enlargement (Wakasa et al., 2003).
S. No Fruit Expansins Reference
1. Apple MdEXPA1, MdEXPA2, MdEXPA3, MdEXPA4, MdEXPA5, MdEXPA6 Wakasa et al., 2003
2. Peach PpExp1, PpExp2, PpExp3 (Hayama et al., 2001),
3. Litchi LcExp1 and LcExp2 (Yong et al., 2006),
  • Varietal susceptibility
S.No Fruit Susceptible Variety Tolerant variety
1. Apple Golden Russet, Fuji, Gala
2. Avocado Bacon, Zutano, Lamb Hass, Hass
3. Cherry Bing, Sam, Hartland, Cashmere, Vega, Tieton Lapins, Regina, Lapins, Kordia, Celeste
4. Grape Ribier, Thompson Seedless, Ruby Seedless & cardinal Emperor
5. Mandrin Owari, Hybrid-: Nova, Ellendale, Orlando.
6. Litchi Nuomici, Dehradun (27.4%), Muzaffarpur (16.8%), Culcutta, Huaizhi
7. Pomegranate Malas-e-Saveh Bedana Bosec, Khog, Jalore Seedless, Wonderful.
8. Sweet Orange Valencia, Hamlin, Navelina, Washington Navel, Frost, Olinda.
9. Pistachio nut Khanjari, Shahpasand Pesteh Garmeh, Badami Sefid


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McDonald, R.E., P.E. Shaw, P.D. Greany, T.T. Hatton, and C.W. Wilson. 1987. Effect of gibberellic acid on certain physical and chemical properties of grapefruit. Trop. Sci.


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About Author / Additional Info:
I am currently pursuing Ph.D. in Fruit and Horticultural Technology from IARI, New Delhi.