Apples are the most important pome fruits grown in temperate regions. Most are sold for fresh fruit consumption, though around 600,000 tonnes of apple juice concentrate is produced annually and smaller amounts are used for cider, dried apple slices, puree, etc.
Temperature is a decisive factor in the cultivation of apples and cultivars such as ‘Golden Delicious’, ‘Red Delicious’, ‘Fuji’, ‘Braeburn’ and ‘Idared’, which have a high temperature requirement, are more suited to warmer climates. Generally, fruit quality (color and flavor) is best from fruit grown in climates with warm days/cool nights and high light intensity.
There are hundreds of apple varieties, but five currently dominate world production: ‘Fuji’, ‘Golden Delicious’, ‘Delicious’, ‘Granny Smith’ and ‘Gala’. Basically, apples can be divided into three groups based on harvesting period: summer, autumn and winter apples.
Winter apples represent by far the largest group and can be stored a longer time than autumn (e.g. ‘Alkmene’, ‘Goldparmäne’, ‘Jamba’) and summer apples (e.g. ‘Discovery’, ‘Klarapfel’), which should be consumed soon after harvest.
There are two main types of pears; European and Asian pears. European Pears (Pyrus communi) are popular as fresh fruit, though, up to 40 % of world production is canned, dried or sold as juice. European pears are generally sweeter and softer than Asian pears. The 'Bartlett' or 'Williams' pear is probably the most widely grown pear in the world. It is a ‘summer pear’.
Other important European cultivars are: 'Anjou', 'Bosc', 'Comice', 'Hardy', and 'Winter Nelis'. These are all ‘winter pears’, as they are harvested in the autumn and marketed throughout the winter months. Winter pears generally have a better shelf life than summer pears and can therefore be stored for longer periods.
Asian pears (Pyrus pyrifolia, P. bretschneideri or P. ussuriensis) are often called ‘nashi’ or ‘apple pears’ and sold mainly as fresh fruits. They are totally different to the European pear and originate from eastern Asia, China, Japan and Korea, which are still the centers of production.
Nashi are a popular fruit with most Asian cultures, being extremely juicy and crisp, staying firm even when ripe. Compared to European pears they have a fairly bland taste. They are used more as thirst quenchers rather than as a means of satisfying hunger. Chilling requirements are lower compared to European pears: 600 - 900 hours for Japanese cultivars and even lower for Chinese cultivars. ‘Nijisseiki’ (‘20th Century’), ‘Hosui’, ‘Kosui’ and ‘Shinseiki’ (’New Century’) are the top four commercially grown cultivars.
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