Production Systems Influence Source Limitations to Growth in `Sharpblue' Southern Highbush Blueberry

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611

`Sharpblue' southern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L. interspecific hybrid) was grown in either a dormant or nondormant production system to determine the effect of production system on source limitations to fruit and vegetative growth. Source limited stages were evaluated in the two production systems by reducing reproductive sink load during either the fruit cell division or fruit cell enlargement stage. Source limitation during cell division was evaluated by removing 80% of the flower buds in late fall, since the majority of cell division in blueberry ovaries occurs before bloom. Source limitation during cell enlargement was evaluated by removing 80% of the fruit after fruit set the following spring. In the dormant production (DP) system, mean fruit dry weight (DW) was greatest in the flower bud removal treatment and least in the control (nonthinned) treatment, suggesting that cell number, rather than size, is more important in determining blueberry fruit weight in the DP system. Fruit in the dormant flower bud removal treatment may have approached maximum cell number and therefore fruit size; this was supported by the observation that significant depletion of root carbohydrate concentration did not occur in this treatment, as it did in the control treatment. Mean fruit DW in the nondormant production (NDP) system was greatest in the fruit removal treatment compared with the other two treatments, suggesting that cell enlargement played a larger role in determining fruit size in this production system. However, the effect of the flower bud removal treatment (and therefore the effect of cell division) on fruit DW in the NDP system was apparently masked by continued flower bud initiation in this system after flower bud removal in late fall. Continued floral initiation was apparently an alternative sink to increasing cell division in previously formed flower buds. In both systems, fruit removal increased vegetative growth compared with the control and flower bud removal treatments. Thus, both systems exhibited source limitations to fruit and vegetative growth, although the timing and extent of the limitation to fruit growth differed between the production systems.

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