Cultivar Differences and the Effect of Winter Temperature on Flower Bud Development in Blackberry

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Appalachian Fruit Research Station, 45 Wiltshire Road, Kearneysville, WV 25430
  • | 2 Department of Horticulture, 4017 Agriculture and Life Sciences Building, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331
  • | 3 Department of Horticulture, 316 Plant Science Building, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701

Transition to reproductive development and subsequent development of floral primordia (e.g., sepals, petals, stamens, and pistils) were determined in several blackberry (Rubus subgenus Rubus Watson) cultivars (Boysen, Cherokee, Chester Thornless, Marion, and Thornless Evergreen) growing in one or more locations (Clarksville, Ark., Aurora and Hillsboro, Ore., and Kearneysville, W. Va.). Also, daily maximum, mean, and minimum temperatures were recorded at three sites (Clarksville, Aurora, and Kearneysville) for the September to April sampling period. In buds of `Boysen' and `Marion' from Oregon, sepal primordia were first observed in November and December, respectively. Further floral bud development continued into January. Sepal development in `Cherokee' buds occurred in October in Oregon and in December in Arkansas. At all three sites, the buds of `Chester Thornless' blackberry remained undifferentiated until spring. The average mean temperatures in Oregon were generally well above 5 °C during the bud sampling period, but were near 0 °C on most days from mid-December to January in Arkansas and from December to late-February in West Virginia. The phenology of flower bud differentiation varied among the cultivars and was strongly influenced by prevailing winter temperatures. The results suggest that the shortening day lengths of late summer trigger flower bud development in blackberry. Floral bud development in blackberry, once initiated, was continuous; however, periods of low temperature (<2 °C) can arrest development.

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