Relation between Moisture Stress and Mineral Soil Tolerance in Blueberries

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Fruit Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, MD 20705
  • | 2 Department of Horticulture, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742

The relationship between moisture stress and mineral soil tolerance was studied by placing 10 blueberry (Vaccinium) clones in a Berryland sand soil high in organic matter (Berryland) and a Galestown sandy clay loam soil (Galestown) and subjecting them to one of two moisture regimes. The Berryland and Galestown soils represent an excellent blueberry soil and a mineral soil, respectively. A moderate degree of water stress influenced biomass partitioning in blueberries in a similar manner as stress induced by culture on mineral soil. Berryland control plants on Berryland partitioned more biomass into leaves and produced more dry matter and leaf area than plants on Galestown or those moisture stressed. Net assimilation rate and relative growth rate were not significantly different between soil or moisture treatments. The primary reason for the reduction in absolute growth rate due to soil type or moisture stress was a significantly lower leaf area duration on Galestown soil and in-moisture stressed plants. Clones differed in instantaneous transpiration, leaf conductance, and apparent photosynthesis and the ability to partition biomass into various plant parts. By selecting for increased leafiness, a high photosynthetic rate, and a more energy efficient root system, improvement in mineral soil tolerance should be possible.

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