Cultivar Fruiting and Vegetative Response to Nitrogen Fertilizer in Cranberry

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Washington State University Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center, Prosser, WA 99350
  • | 2 Rutgers Blueberry and Cranberry Research and Extension Center, Chatsworth, NJ 08019

Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) has the opportunity to partition resources into sexual and/or asexual (stolons) modes of reproduction. Nitrogen status has been shown to impact the degree of stoloniferous growth. To determine whether there is a genotypic response to varying nitrogen levels, six hybrid and four native cultivars were treated with three annual rates of nitrogen fertilizer (17, 34, or 67 kg·ha-1) for 4 years. Fruit yield was determined each year and asexual vegetative growth (stolons) weight was removed and measured in all but the first year of the experiment. Cultivars exhibited different patterns of yield and stolon weight response over the three nitrogen rates. Not all cultivars exhibited significant yield decreases at the high N levels. Vegetative growth (stolon weight) generally increased with increasing N, however, not all cultivars responded similarly over three N rates. Partitioning between yield and stolon production favored fruit yield at the lower N rates in three of the four native cultivars studied (`Cropper', `Early Black', and `Howes'). Yield over N rates was more stable for four of the six hybrid cultivars, which may be the result of greater heterozygosity in hybrids than natives, and/or genetic gain from one breeding and selection cycle, offering increased tolerance to nitrogen stress. This study indicates that genetic variation exists for yield, yield stability, and stolon production relative to nitrogen level, and that genetic gain in cranberry is possible for these traits. Future studies involving cranberry physiology and nutrition should consider the genotypes used.

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