Computer Controlled Portable Frost Simulator for Field Studies of Frost Effects on Wild Blueberries

in HortTechnology

Two commercial freezers were modified to provide an inexpensive chamber system to investigate frost effects on wild, lowbush blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium) under field conditions. A computer control system was developed with software written in Visual Basic 6.0 for MSWindows, which precisely controlled temperature in the plant canopy when the chambers were placed over blueberry plants in the field. Frost events (with temperatures ranging from -2 to -15 °C (28.4 to 5.0 °F)) were simulated by user input to control the cooling and warming rates, and minimum temperatures. The system records temperature set points, and current temperature in the plant canopy, or elsewhere in the plant environment, and provides a graphical display of key parameters. Trials have verified the reproducability of temperature profiles and the chambers have been used to provide preliminary information on the effects of frost at bloom on fruit set and development.

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