Fruiting and vegetative greenhouse-grown cranberry uprights (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) were subjected to four defoliation levels (0%, 25%, 50%, 75%) on one of three dates during the growing season. Seven days following defoliation, vines were destructively harvested and carbohydrate concentration was quantified using HPLC. Prior to new growth, defoliation did not affect the concentration of total non-structural carbohydrates (TNSC) in the uprights, or the partitioning of water-soluble (i.e., sucrose, glucose, fructose) to ethanol-insoluble (i.e., starch) carbohydrates, even though uprights with lower leaf areas had higher net CO2 assimilation rates (A). At 2 weeks post-bloom, TNSC concentration was reduced in defoliated vines, although A was not affected by defoliation. Prior to harvest, TNSC concentration was reduced in vines subjected to defoliation while A was unaffected, although the positive relationship between soluble carbohydrate concentration and leaf area per upright reached an asymptote, while the direct relationship between starch concentration and leaf area remained linear. Carbohydrate production and partitioning of an upright was unaffected by the presence of a single fruit throughout the experiment. These results suggest that carbohydrate production in cranberry uprights may be sink-limited prior to fruiting, and then becomes source-limited as the growing season progresses.
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