Early and Mid-fall Defoliation Reduces Flower Bud Number and Yield of Southern Highbush Blueberry

in HortTechnology
View More View Less
  • 1 Department of Horticultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Three experiments were conducted in north-central Florida to determine the effects of fall defoliation on flower bud initiation and yield of southern highbush (SHB) blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum hybrid). In 1998, randomly selected upright shoots of mature, field-grown `Misty' and `Sharpblue' plants were hand-defoliated at monthly intervals beginning 4 Sept. and ending 7 Dec. In 1999, a similar study was conducted using different plants of the same cultivars. Representative shoots were defoliated at monthly intervals beginning 14 Sept. and ending 15 Dec. Additional shoots were also partially defoliated by removing the distal two-thirds of each leaf at monthly intervals from 15 Oct. through 15 Dec. In a third experiment, 2-year-old container-grown `Star' SHB plants were completely defoliated at monthly intervals beginning 13 Sept. and ending 15 Dec. In each experiment, control shoots, or plants ('Star'), were not defoliated. Although there were differences among cultivars and years, all cultivars tested demonstrated negative effects on reproductive growth and development from September and October defoliations. For `Sharpblue', reduced fruit yield from early fall defoliation appeared to be due to fewer fruit set per flower bud. However, for `Misty', reduced fruit yield from early fall defoliation was the result of large reductions in flower bud numbers as well as fewer fruit set per flower bud. September and October defoliations of `Star' reduced yields or delayed fruit ripening. Collectively, these experiments demonstrate the importance of maintaining healthy foliage through October in the lower southeastern United States for adequate flower bud initiation and high yields of SHB blueberry the following spring.

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 9 9 4
PDF Downloads 21 21 7