The Effect of Partial Defoliation on Vine Carbohydrate Concentration and Flavonoid Production in Cranberries

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  • 1 Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 285 Old Westport Road, North Dartmouth, MA 02747
  • | 2 University of Massachusetts Amherst, Cranberry Experiment Station, 1 State Bog Road, P.O. Box 569, East Wareham, MA 02538

The effect of partial defoliation (rate and timing) on vine carbohydrate concentration and the development of phenolic compounds in field-grown `Stevens' cranberry fruit was investigated in two experiments. In Expt. 1, partial defoliation rates of 0%, 18%, 39%, and 53% of total leaf area were applied before new growth, at fruit set, at midfruit development, and preharvest. In Expt. 2, treatments of 0% and 34% removal of new leaves were applied at postfruit set, and at midfruit development. In both experiments, upright samples were harvested for carbohydrate analysis 10d after defoliation, and fruit were removed for analysis before commercial harvest of the site. While total berry phenolic concentration was unaffected by partial defoliation in both studies, the separate pools of flavonoid compounds were affected differently by treatment. In Expt. 1, total flavonol concentration at harvest was improved by the highest rate of partial defoliation (53% of total leaf area) at both fruit set and midfruit development. Total anthocyanin concentration was improved by partial defoliation rates of 39% and 53% of total leaf area compared to the 18% defoliation treatment, but was not affected by timing of defoliation. Pearson correlation coefficients indicated that total flavonol concentration was positively correlated with vine total nonstructural carbohydrate concentration at preharvest, while total anthocyanin concentration was negatively correlated with vine soluble carbohydrates, starch, and total nonstructural carbohydrate concentration at midfruit development. In Expt. 2, total phenolics, flavonols, and anthocyanins were unaffected by partial defoliation; however there was a negative correlation between total anthocyanin concentration in the fruit and soluble carbohydrate concentration in the vine at midfruit development. In these experiments, partial defoliation early in the growing season improved total flavonols and total anthocyanins. Production of flavonols and anthocyanins appeared to be regulated independently of each other.

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