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Peter A.W. Swain and Rebecca L. Darnell

Two cultivars of southern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum interspecific hybrid) were grown in containers under the traditional deciduous production system, or the dormancy-avoiding evergreen production system. In the dormancy-avoiding system, plants are maintained evergreen and do not enter dormancy in the winter. This alleviates the chilling requirement, thus extending the potential growing area of blueberries into subtropical regions. Plants in the evergreen production system were maintained in active growth through weekly or biweekly N fertilization (≈21–23 g N/ plant per year). Keeping foliage through the year lengthens the duration of the photosynthetic season of the plant and is hypothesized to improve the carbohydrate (CHO) status of the evergreen plants. This, in turn, may decrease source limitations to reproductive development and potentially increase fruit number and/or size. In both cultivars, the evergreen production system advanced the time of anthesis by 3 to 4 weeks compared to the deciduous production system. Plants in the evergreen system initiated 10% to 25% more flower buds than plants in the deciduous system, depending on cultivar. Average leaf area, leaf fresh weight, total above-ground fresh weight, bud density, and cane length were greater in the evergreen plants than deciduous. The evergreen production system increased plant fresh weight and flower bud number compared to the deciduous system, and may ultimately increase yield.

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Donald J. Merhaut and Rebecca L. Darnell

Nitrogen uptake and N and C partitioning were evaluated in `Sharpblue' southern highbush blueberries fertilized with different N forms. Plants were grown in acid-washed silica sand and fertilized with a modified Hoagland's solution supplemented with 5.0 mm N as NH4 + or NO3 -. Nutrient solution pH was adjusted to 3.0 and 6.5 for the NO3 - and NH4 +-treated plants, respectively. After 12 months of growth, plants were dual labeled with 14CO2 and 10% enriched 15N-N as either NaNO3 or (NH4)2SO4 and harvested 12 hours after labeling. Fertilization with NO3 --N increased leaf, stem, and root dry weights compared to NH4 + fertilization. Total 15N uptake did not differ between N fertilization treatments, thus whole plant and root 15N concentrations were greater in NH4 +-fertilized vs. NO3 --fertilized plants. Fertilization with NO3 --N increased C partitioning to new shoots compared to NH4 +-fertilized plants. However, C partitioning to other plant parts was not affected by N form. Although NO3 - uptake in blueberry appears to be restricted relative to NH4 + uptake, this limitation does not inhibit vegetative growth. Additionally, there appears to be adequate available carbohydrate to support concurrent vegetative growth and N assimilation, regardless of N form.

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Sylvia J. Brooks and Paul M. Lyrene

The extent of self-fertility and self-fruitfulness was studied in Vaccinium arboreum Marsh, V. darrowi Camp, and in seedlings, termed MIKs, from open-pollination of V. darrowi (section Cyanococcus) × V. arboreum (section Batodendron) F1 hybrids. The open pollinations that produced the MIKs occurred in a field containing tetraploid southern highbush selections (based largely on V. corymbosum L.), and the pollen parents of the MIKs are believed to be southern highbush selections. The MIKs that were studied had been selected for high fruit set after open pollination in the field. Both V. arboreum and V. darrowi exhibited very low self-fruitfulness and self-fertility when hand-pollinated in a greenhouse; the former produced no seedlings from more than 600 selfed flowers, and the latter produced only 13. By contrast, southern highbush clones averaged 70 seedlings per 100 pollinated flowers when selfed and 230 when crossed. Self-fertility and self-fruitfulness of the MIKs were higher than those of V. arboreum and V. darrowi but lower than those of southern highbush selections. MIK × MIK crosses gave fewer seedlings per 100 pollinated flowers (84) than highbush × highbush crosses (230), probably reflecting their hybrid ancestry. Although introduction of V. arboreum genes into southern highbush blueberry gives plants of excellent vigor and adaptation to north Florida, several generations of breeding will be needed to obtain cultivars with high fertility and berry quality.

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R.K. Reeder, R.L. Darnell, and T.A. Obreza

Blueberry plants fertilized at 3-week intervals with nitrogen (N) throughout the year and protected from freezing temperatures avoid dormancy and produce an off-season “winter” crop. Southwestern Florida offers a climate where this production system can be implemented without undue fear of freezes. `Sharpblue', `Gulfcoast', and `Warmabe' southern highbush blueberry cultivars have been planted at high density (10,000 plants/ha) to determine the feasibility of successfully establishing an evergreen production system for blueberry. Three rates of N fertilization (84, 168, and 252 kg·ha–1) and the use of peat or municipal solid waste (MSW) compost as soil amendments are being evaluated in this study. Initial data on plant growth indicate that, during the first 9 months of the planting, 168 kg N/ha will produce plants similar in height, but with significantly less volume, to those receiving 252 kg N/ha. MSW compost appears to be a beneficial soil amendment for blueberry establishment despite an increase in soil pH associated with the compost amendment.

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C.L. Gupton and J.M. Spiers

To determine if high Zn concentrations contribute to chlorosis in blueberry, plants of rabbiteye `Climax' and southern highbush `Bladen' were fertilized in sand culture with 30, 60, 90, and 120 ppm Zn solutions at 4, 4.5, 5, 5.5, 6, and 6.5 pH. Only Zn levels significantly affected the degree of chlorosis in plant leaves. No interaction among cultivars, pH, or Zn concentration was significant. The linear response to Zn levels was significant (P = 0.0001), but quadratic and cubic responses were not significant. Cultivars and Zn fertilization levels affected Zn and Mn accumulation; however, no difference in chlorosis rating was observed between cultivars. An inverse relationship existed between Zn fertilization levels and leaf Mn content so that the total concentration of the two minerals was about the same for each fertilization level, suggesting that Mn toxicity would not be expected at high levels of Zn fertilization. We concluded that high levels of Zn may induce chlorosis in rabbiteye and southern highbush blueberry.

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J.G. Williamson, B.E. Maust, and D.S. NeSmith

The effects of hydrogen cyanamide (H2CN2) sprays on vegetative and reproductive bud growth and development were evaluated for `Climax' rabbiteye (Vaccinium ashei Reade) and `Misty' southern highbush blueberry (V. corymbosum L. hybrid). `Climax' plants were sprayed with 0% or 1% H2CN2 (v/v) at each of several time intervals or flower bud growth stages following either 270 or 600 hours of artificial chilling. `Misty' plants were sprayed with 0%, 1%, or 2% H2CN2 (v/v) immediately after exposure to 0, 150, or 300 hours of artificial chilling. H2CN2 application to `Climax' plants at 3 days after forcing (DAF) and at 10% to 30% stage 3 flower bud development dramatically accelerated leafing, and only minimal flower bud damage was observed at these application times. For `Misty', vegetative budbreak was increased and advanced by both H2CN2 spray concentrations, regardless of pretreatment chilling levels; the number of vegetative budbreaks per plant increased with increased concentration. Timing of anthesis did not appear to be affected by H2CN2, but fruit maturity was hastened. Increased pretreatment chilling also hastened fruit development. This effect on maturity appears to be due primarily to increased and accelerated vegetative budbreak, which probably increased leaf: fruit ratios. Greater flower bud mortality from H2CN2 occurred in nonchilled plants than in those chilled for 150 or 300 hours, especially at 2% H2CN2. These results indicate that H2CN2 has potential value in stimulating vegetative bud development, which potentially hastens maturity in blueberries grown under the mild winter conditions of the Southeast. However, spray concentration and timing of application will be critical to successful use of this compound.

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Dennis Deyton, Carl E. Sams, Jim R. Ballington, and John Cummins

Trials were conducted in 2004 to compare the effects of soybean oil formulations and concentrations on flowering and fruit thinning of rabbiteye and southern highbush blueberries. Mature `Climax' bushes near Spring City, Tenn., were sprayed to runoff on 10 Feb. with water, or 9% soybean oil in the formulations TNsoy11, TNsoy12, TNsoy13, TNsoy14, or Golden Natur'l (GN). In a second trial, 3-year-old `Legacy' southern highbush plants at Spring Hill, Tenn., were sprayed on 11 Feb. with 0%, 6%, 9%, 12%, and 15% GN. A similar trial was sprayed on 5 Mar. at Fletcher, N.C., using young plants of various Southern highbush cultivars. Each formulation of soybean oil (9%) delayed bud development and flower anthesis of `Climax' bushes. Bloom opening on `Legacy' bushes was delayed by 2 to 6 days with sprays of ≥9% GN, with higher concentrations causing more delay. However, flower bud mortality of `Legacy' plants was greater when sprayed with the higher oil concentrations. `Legacy' plants sprayed with 0%, 6%, and ≥9% oil had 0%, 30% and ≥70% bud mortality, respectively, at 36 days after treatment. `Legacy' plants sprayed with 12% and 15% oil sprays had an estimated 24% and 13%, respectively, of a crop load compared to the estimated 100% crop load on control plants. Flower bud development, flower bud mortality, crop load and berry size (across cultivars) of Southern highbush cultivars at Fletcher were not affected by oil treatments. Results were variable among trials, perhaps due to factors such as cultivars, timing of application (date), maturity of plants, environmental conditions, etc. There is potential for soybean oil formulations to be used as a chemical thinner as well as to delay blooming.

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Sylvia J. Brooks and Paul M. Lyrene

Fertility of F1 hybrids and their open-pollinated progeny was studied for the intersectional cross Vaccinium darrowi Camp × V. arboreum Marsh as part of a project to determine the feasibility of using V. arboreum to breed vigorous, drought-tolerant southern highbush blueberry cultivars. The 16 F1 hybrids that were studied were vigorous but very low in fertility. Second generation hybrids [MIKs (mother is known) obtained by open-pollination of the F1s] and MIK derivatives were extremely variable in vigor and fertility, but averaged far higher in fertility than the F1s as evidenced by pollen stainability and amount of pollen produced. F1s produced an average of 0.4 seedlings per 100 pollinated flowers when hand-pollinated in a greenhouse with pollen from V. darrowi, 0.2 when pollinated by V. arboreum and 3.4 when pollinated by cultivated highbush. Some MIKs that were crossed with other MIKs and with cultivated southern highbush were very high in male and female fertility. Female fertility was estimated in greenhouse crosses from fruit set, berry weight, number and weight of seeds, number of plump seeds per berry, and number of seedlings obtained. Male fertility was estimated by pollen stainability with acetocarmine and amount of pollen shed. Chromosome counts showed that three F1s were diploid and that four fertile MIKs were tetraploid. One MIK appeared to be aneuploid. Aneuploidy may explain much of the low fertility found in MIK populations. These results indicate that good progress is being made in returning the hybrid plants to cultivar quality in only a few generations of backcrossing.

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D. Scott NeSmith

’ ornamental reflowering blueberry HortScience. 50 1828 1829 Moulton, J.E. Johnston, S. Andersen, R.L. 1977 ‘Tophat’ blueberry HortScience. 12 509 NeSmith, D.S. Draper, A.D. 2007 Camellia southern highbush blueberry J. Amer. Pomol. Soc. 61 34 37 NeSmith, D

Open access

Ebrahiem M. Babiker, Stephen J. Stringer, Hamidou F. Sakhanokho, Barbara J. Smith, and James J. Polashock

blueberry cultivars to Botryosphaeria has been reported ( Polashock and Kramer, 2006 ). Southern highbush blueberry (species complex between V. corymbosum L. 2 n = 4 x = 48 and V. darrowii Camp 2 n = 2 x = 24) breeders have used various native