Flower Bud Load Influences Blueberry Vegetative and Fruit Development

in HortScience
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  • 1 Horticultural Sciences Dept., Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

A field experiment was conducted in Gainesville, Fla., with two southern highbush blueberry cultivars, `Misty' and `Sharpblue', to investigate the influence of varying flower bud load on the timing and extent of vegetative and reproductive development. Flower bud load was adjusted on three different canes on ten plants by removing none, one-third, or two-thirds of the flower buds. Vegetative budbreak, leaf area, fruit number, and fruit fresh weight and dry weight were measured. Vegetative budbreak was delayed with increasing flower bud load. Vegetative budbreak, leaf area, and leaf area: fruit ratio decreased with increasing flower bud load. Fruit maturity was delayed and average berry fresh weight and dry weight declined with decreasing leaf area:fruit ratio. Responses were similar for both cultivars although `Misty' was more adversely affected by high flower bud load and low leaf area: fruit ratio.