Seasonal Changes in Nonstructural Carbohydrates in Cranberry

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706

`Searles' (low yielding) and `Stevens' (high yielding) cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) tissues were collected in 1990 and 1991 to determine the concentration of nonstructural carbohydrates in above-ground (uprights, woody stems) and below-ground tissue. Uprights had the highest total nonstructural carbohydrate (TNC) concentration, followed by woody stems, while below-ground tissue contained the lowest TNC concentration. Total nonstructural carbohydrate concentration in uprights increased early in the season, reached a maximum in late May, decreased as flowering approached, and remained low from late June to late August. The latter period corresponds to flowering, fruit set, floral initiation, and fruit development stages. In late August, when fruit were full size, TNC levels increased, reaching highest concentration in November as the plants were entering dormancy. Most TNC increase in the early season and the subsequent decrease were due to changes in starch. The increase of TNC late in the season was primarily due to increases in soluble carbohydrates. Total nonstructural carbohydrate concentration was greater in vegetative than fruiting uprights for the entire growing season. The lower TNC concentration in fruiting than vegetative uprights during flowering and fruit set was due to greater starch depletion in fruiting uprights. Seasonal changes in TNC in the two cultivars were similar; however, `Stevens' had generally higher TNC concentration and total dry weight as well as more fruiting uprights, fruit, and fruit weight per ground area. The low TNC concentration observed during fruit set and development suggests that the demands for carbohydrates are highest during that period and supports the hypothesis that competition for carbohydrate resources is one factor responsible for low cranberry fruit set.

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