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Paul R. Hepler and David E. Yarborough

One hundred lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait.) clones were randomly sampled from a commercial field to estimate potential productivity. Yield data exhibited a normal distribution ranging from 300 to 17,000 kg·ha-1 with a mean of 7726 kg·ha-1. Commercial use of selected clones or improved cultivars through new plantings, interplanting into existing clones, or replacement of low-yielding clones in native stands and increasing the intensity of field management would increase the yielding potential of native lowbush blueberry fields.

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M.K. Ehlenfeldt, A.W. Stretch, and V. Brewster

The resistance of 48 highbush blueberry cultivars and selections to the blight phase of mummy berry disease, incited by the fungus Monilinia vaccinii-corymbosi (Reade) Honey, was examined in relation to percent Vaccinium angustifolium Ait. ancestry, season of fruit maturity, and shoot growth during the primary infection phase. Correlations of percent blighting with percent V. angustifolium ancestry were significant across 3 years, but correlations with fruit maturity were significant in only 2 of 3 years. Correlations of percent blighting with early shoot growth were significant in both years measured, with r values of 0.54 in 1994, 0.83 in 1995, and 0.83 across years. A multiple regression found only shoot growth highly significant for susceptibility and rendered V. angustifolium ancestry and season of fruit maturity nonsignificant. Resistant cultivars exhibiting early shoot elongation suggest that resistance can be either biochemically or escape based.

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Karen L. Burgher, Andrew R. Jamieson, and Xuewen Lu

Twenty-six genotypes of lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton) representing four geographical zones (Maine, United States; New Brunswick, northern Nova Scotia, and western Nova Scotia, Canada) were selected to obtain DNA fingerprints and to estimate genetic similarity by randomly amplified polymorphic DNA analysis. The genotypes were either native accessions or selections from crosses involving native accessions as parents or grandparents. Thirty 10-base RAPD primers were initially screened; 11 proved to be polymorphic, resulting in 73 consistent RAPD bands. All 26 genotypes could be distinguished by their unique RAPD banding patterns and three unlabeled samples were correctly identified. The RAPD band data set was analyzed with Genstat5 to calculate similarity and distance matrices. Average similarity across all genotypes was 56%. Results from average linkage cluster analysis were used to construct a dendogram which demonstrated six main clusters with an average similarity linkage of 70%. The selection `Fundy' and its parent `Augusta' clustered at 77% similarity. The corresponding principal coordinate analysis supported the clusters and identified two distinct outliers. There was a small association by geographic grouping for five genotypes from Maine. It was concluded that RAPD analysis is a useful tool for genotypic identification and estimates of genetic similarity in lowbush blueberry.

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David E. Yarborough and Prasanta C. Bhowmik

The competitive effects of bunchberry Cornus canadensis L. on native stands of blueberries Vaccinium angustifolium Ait. was assessed in 1986 and 1987, and in the greenhouse in 1987 with replacement series experiments. In the field, blueberry and bunchberry fruit were harvested in August and all aboveground growth was cut, the species were separated, and dry weight was determined. The relative yield total (RYT), defined as the dry weight (DW) of the combined aboveground portions of the blueberry and bunchberry divided by their respective DW at 100% cover, was >1 and showed an increase with increasing proportion of bunchberry. Blueberry relative yield, defined as the DW of the aboveground portion divided by the DW at 100% cover, was >1, but bunchberry relative yield DW was ≤1. Regression of individual on associate DW yield indicates blueberry is as aggressive as bunchberry. Blueberry fruit count and yield decreased with increasing bunchberry density. In the greenhouse study, plant count and cover were assessed weekly, and leaf area index (LAD and DW were obtained at the end of the study. RTY > 1, and combined DW increased with increasing proportion of bunchberry. The LAI of blueberry or bunchberry was higher in mixtures than in pure stands. Blueberries are competitive with bunchberry, but in native fields, open areas among clones allow faster growing bunchberry to spread without competition.

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Line Brissette, Laurence Tremblay, and Daniel Lord

Bud cultures from nonjuvenile field clones of lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait.) were established on Z-2 medium with 59 μm 2iP. Reversion to juvenile characteristics with small and rounder leaves occurred only on two explants after 19 weeks in culture. These shoots grew vigorously and could be easily subcultured. The number of shoots of one clone doubled every 23.3 days. Reducing the 2iP concentration to 12.3 and 24.6 μm reduced shoot proliferation, but permitted better shoot elongation. After 5 weeks in a mix of 3 peat: 2 vermiculite: 1 perlite, shoots >20 mm rooted better than shoots measuring 10 to 20 mm. Chemical names used: N-(3-methyl-2-butenyl)-1-H-purine-6-amine (2iP); 1H-indole-3-acetic acid (IAA).

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Chad E. Finn, James J. Luby, Carl J. Rosen, and Peter D. Ascher

Progenies from crosses among eight highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum L.), lowbush (V. angustifolium Ait.), and V. corymbosum/V. angustifolium hybrid-derivative parents were evaluated in vitro at low (5.0) and high (6.0) pH for vitality, height, and dry weight. Succinic acid and 2[N- morpholino]ethanesulfonic acid (Mes) effectively maintained pH in the medium and rhizosphere. The pH regime did not affect percent radicle emergence from seed or survival; however, percent seed germination was slightly lower at high pH. The parental general combining ability (GCA), reciprocal and maternal, but not the specific combining ability (SCA) variance components were significant for plant vitality, height, and dry weight. The GCA variance components were six to 26 times larger than the SCA variance components for the plant growth traits. Variation due to pH regime was significant for vitality and dry weight but not for plant height. The progenies of parents with high percent lowbush ancestry were taller at both pH levels than those with less such ancestry. Little variation was apparent for higher pH tolerance as measured by dry weight; however, the GCA effects suggested that the progenies of some parents performed better than others at high pH. Vaccinium angustifolium parents differed in the extent to which tolerance to high pH was transmitted. In vitro screening in concert with a traditional breeding program should be effective in improving blueberry tolerance to higher pH.

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Charles F. Forney, Leonard J. Eaton, and Leigh Gao

Increasing the size of containers used to transport wild lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) fruit from the field to the processing facility has the potential to increase handling efficiency. Currently the wild blueberry industry uses a standard 18-inch-long × 15-inch-wide × 5-inch-deep plastic container that holds about 20 lb of fruit. This study examined the development of a new, pallet-sized high-capacity blueberry container and determined its effects on fruit quality following harvesting, transport, and processing. Laboratory studies on the effects of packing depth of berries on fruit quality demonstrated that container depths of 14.2 inches were damaging to fruit 24 hours following harvest, transport, and holding under ambient conditions, while depths of 7.1 inches were not. In commercial trials with larger pallet-sized prototype containers, fruit depths of up to 10 inches were not damaging to fruit under otherwise typical commercial handling conditions. Dumping fruit from the 10-inch-deep pallet-sized containers onto conveyer belts at the processing facility caused minimal damage to the fruit. In addition, fruit crushing that occurred in the large pallet-sized containers was similar to that occurring in the standard 20-lb plastic containers currently used by the industry. Results of these studies indicate that large pallet-size blueberry containers with a depth of 10 inches could be used without causing significant damage to fresh fruit during harvest, transport, and processing. Thus as a whole, the adoption of this type of container would improve handling efficiency and potentially the quality of the fruit.

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Peter R. Hicklenton, Julia Y. Reekie, Robert J. Gordon, and David C. Percival

Seasonal patterns of CO2 assimilation (ACO2), leaf water potential (ψ1) and stomatal conductance (g1) were studied in three clones (`Augusta', `Brunswick', and `Chignecto') of lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait.) over two growing seasons. Plants were managed in a 2-year cycle of fruiting (year 1) and burn-prune (year 2). In the fruiting year, ACO2 was lowest in mid-June and early September. Rates peaked between 10 and 31 July and declined after fruit removal in late August. Compared with the fruiting year, ACO2 in the prune year was between 50% and 130% higher in the early season, and between 80% and 300% higher in mid-September. In both years, however, mid-season maximum ACO2 for each clone was between 9 and 10 μmol·m–2·s–1CO2. Assimilation of CO2 increased with increasing photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) to between 500 and 600 μmol·s–1·m–2 in `Augusta' and `Brunswick', and to between 700 and 800 μmol·s–1·m–2 in `Chignecto'. Midday ψ1 was generally lower in the prune year than in the fruiting year, reflecting year-to-year differences in soil water content. Stomatal conductance (g1), however, was generally higher in the prune year than in the fruiting year over similar vapor pressure deficit (VPD) ranges, especially in June and September when prune year g1 was often twice that observed in the fruiting year. In the fruiting year, g1 declined through the day in response to increasing VPD in June, but was quite constant in mid-season. It tended to be higher in `Augusta' than in the other two clones. Stomatal closure imposes limitations on ACO2 in lowbush blueberries, but not all seasonal change in C-assimilative capacity can be explained by changes in g1.

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Bernadine C. Strik and David Yarborough

Blueberry production area in North American increased 30% from 1992 to 2003 to 239,818 acres (97,054 ha); most of this increase occurred in Canada. During this period, lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) area increased 33% and highbush 24%. In the United States, the area planted to highbush, which includes northern (V. corymbosum) and southern highbush (Vaccinium sp.) and rabbiteye (V. ashei) blueberries, increased from 48,790 acres (19,745 ha) to 55,898 acres (22,622 ha) from 1992 to 2003, a 15% increase. In 2003, the midwestern region of the U.S. accounted for 35% of the area of highbush blueberries planted. The southern, northeastern, and western regions accounted for 29%, 19%, and 13% of the planted area, respectively. Specific states in the U.S. that had considerable growth from 1992 to 2003 were California, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington. In Canada, the area planted to highbush blueberries increased 105% to 11,010 acres (4456 ha). Commercial blueberry plantings in Mexico were estimated at 70 acres (28.3 ha) in 2003. In the U.S., total lowbush area increased 6% in 10 years, with Maine accounting for 97% of the area planted. In Canada, lowbush area increased 57% since 1992 with 37% and 34% of the total area present in Quebec and Nova Scotia, respectively. The blueberry industry is still projected to grow considerably in the next 5 to 10 years. Highbush blueberries in the U.S. are expected to increase in area planted by 14% and 31% in the next 5 and 10 years, respectively. In Canada, planted area of highbush blueberries is expected to increase by 22% in 5 years and 26% in 10 years. If projections are correct, planted area in Mexico will increase by almost 30-fold in 10 years. The managed area of lowbush blueberries is expected to increase by 5% to 10% over the next 10 years. Data on typical yields, types of cultivars grown, markets, proportion of machine harvest, major production problems, and changes in production practices are presented.

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Chad E. Finn, Carl J. Rosen, James J. Luby, and Peter D. Ascher

Seedlings from crosses among Vaccinium corymbosum L., V. angustifolium Ait, and V. corymbosum/V. angustifolium hybrid-derivative parents, and micropropagated `Northblue', `Northsky', and `Northcountry' plants, were grown for 2 years at Becker, Minn., in low (5.0) and high (6.5) soil pH regimes. Nutrient composition expressed as a concentration and total content was determined for P, K, Ca, Mg, Fe, Mn, Zn, Cu, and B in the aboveground portion of the plant. Except for Fe, the pH regime effects on aboveground plant nutrient concentration and total content were much larger than population or population × pH regime interaction effects. Population × pH regime interactions were detected for all nutrients expressed as a concentration, except for P. Generalizations about plant performance and nutrient concentration of the plant could only be made in the context of a given pH regime. At low pH, P and Mn tissue concentrations increased and Ca, Mg, and B concentrations decreased as the percentage of lowbush ancestry increased. At high pH, K, Cu, and B concentrations decreased as the percentage of lowbush ancestry increased. Overall plant performance on the higher pH soils appeared to be positively correlated to aboveground tissue concentrations of Mn, K, and Cu. When expressed as total content, population × pH regime effects were only significant for tissue Mn. Differences in total nutrient content attributed to soil pH were primarily related to differences in plant dry weight.