Apple trees are often found on farms and orchards across the world. If you have an apple tree in your orchard, you’ve probably noticed that sometimes some apples don’t get their true color. They often appear washed out and dull, especially before they’re fully ripe.
You might be wondering why this is happening to your apples. And you could be thinking about picking them a little early to prevent this from occurring again. But the reason your apples are pale green is due to a lack of light reflection (reflective ground cover) and not necessarily because they’re unripe.
Here is how reflective ground film can ensure your apples are always colorful, redder, and appealing to your market.
What is a Reflective Ground Cover?
The reflective ground cover also known as the reflective ground film is a fabric spread over the soil of your apple orchard. The reflective ground cover reflects light onto your apples.
The purpose is to provide additional photosynthetic light during periods of reduced light.
Why You Should Add Reflective Ground Film to Your Orchard
The reflective ground screen improves the apple color by activating the enzyme responsible for color. Besides improving the color of your apples, the reflective screen:
- Improve lighting – sufficient lighting improve fruit quality and the yield
- Improve fruit size – activates enzymes that improve the fruit size or quality
- Shorten growing time – it ensures even growth of the apple fruits and then harvested at once
- Anti-pesticides – it lowers the use of pesticides by reducing the insects that land on the apple fruits.
What is Color and Why Does it Matter in Apples?
Color is important to many Apples for a variety of reasons. Color indicates:
- How the apple will taste
- Potential shelf life
- Market appeal
Red cultivars tend to be the sweetest and most popular, although some yellow-skinned varieties are quite sweet. Cultivars with dark red skin (Red Delicious or Golden Delicious) tend to be more tart in flavor and not as appealing to consumers.
Color can also affect the shelf life of apples. The darker the skin color, the shorter the storage time.
Granny Smith apples have a longer storage life than Red Delicious apples because they have a lighter skin color resulting in less breakdown during storage.
How to Apply Reflectivity to Your Apple Orchard
Reflectivity is key to understanding how light interacts with objects. In nature, the surfaces of apples are often dull and matte, allowing them to absorb the reflective energy of light.
When a light source is placed in front of an apple with a dull surface, it will appear dark against the white background. The opposite is true for shiny apples. They appear bright and colorful against a dark background.
This effect is called reflectivity, which is simply a change in color or brightness due to reflected light.
To increase reflectivity in apples, Apple growers can apply reflective ground cover beneath their trees. The reflective material bounces light up into the canopy to increase color saturation and apple brightness.
Reflective Ground Screen in the Market
The best reflective ground covers in your market will depend on your orchard size and budget.
- Size: The size of reflective ground cover you need depends on how much of the area of your orchard you want to be covered.
- Budget: The amount of money you have to spend will affect which types of reflective ground cover you’ll be able to afford. The reflective time ground film has a relatively high up-front cost, but once installed it requires no maintenance for years at a time.
There are many suppliers of reflective ground film for coloring apples. They include:
- Online stores
- Local vendors
- Import from manufacturers
There are 4 types of reflective ground screens in the market you can choose from:
- Plastic monofilament with woven Aluminum strips – It has strips of aluminum foil and good diffuse reflectivity.
- Aluminum foil- This is aluminum foil fixed on ultra-thin PE plastic. It has a smooth surface, is lightweight, easily damaged, and can only be used once.
- Coated Paper- It is a lusterless white biodegradable paper. It produces a diffuse reflection. It can only be used once.
- Woven- This is made of bright white plastic that is diffusely reflective. It has uniform diffuse reflection and can be used many times
What is the Estimated Yearly Benefit of Using Reflective Ground Screens?
The only maintenance required is mowing around each piece of the reflective ground film once per year.
The following calculations are based on an example site where two pieces of reflective ground film line either side of a single row of trees.
Benefits Item Calculated benefits Assumed value Mowing one side of one row once a year $1,080 *Based on mowing about 1 ha for a cost of $30 per hour.
Coloring apples can increase the price by $1-3 each.
How to Install Reflective Ground Cover
The reflective ground cover can be placed over the ground around apple trees using only a few stakes. The reflective material comes with cable ties that can be used to easily secure it in place. A single roll is enough to cover 600 square feet of land or around six trees. Here are the steps:
- Remove grass and weeds from the area around the trunks of your apple trees so that you have about 3 inches of bare soil.
- Spread the reflective ground cover over the bare soil in a 30-inch wide ring extending out from the trunks at least 10 feet. You can place it directly over the grass if desired. It will remain effective for up to three years.
If you love the beauty of picking red apples but don’t love seeing them lose their color, consider an inexpensive reflective ground cover. Not only can these reflective ground films improve color in your apple fruits, but they also protect your soil and help conserve water.
We’re a global agriculture protection textile industry and always at your service. EyouAgro offers the best and effective reflective ground films for improving your apple fruit color. Our primary goal is to make apple growers’ lives easier and assist them in improving the quality of their fruits.