A study was conducted over two southern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum × Vaccinium darrowi) seasons in a grower field in Florida. The objective was to compare the early fruit weight of southern highbush blueberry cultivars in high tunnels and in open fields. Four treatments were tested using combinations of two southern highbush blueberry cultivars (Snow Chaser and Springhigh) and two production systems (open fields and 18-ft-high tunnels). The results indicated that there was a significant effect of the production systems on the number of days with air temperatures at or near freezing (≤34 °F), and maximum and minimum air temperatures. The minimum air temperature in open-field plots reached ≈19 and 21 °F (61 freezing or near-freezing events) in the 2009–10 and 2010–11 seasons, respectively, whereas the minimum air temperatures inside the high tunnels were ≈32 and 33 °F, respectively, during the same seasons (only 3 days at ≤34 °F). This indicated that using high tunnels was an effective means to avoid freezing air temperatures in blueberries. In the first season, the cumulative early fruit weight was the highest in plots planted with ‘Snow Chaser’ inside the high tunnels (≈10 tons/acre), while the combined production of the two cultivars in the open fields did not reach 1 ton/acre until the end of the early harvests. The following year, there were no differences in the cumulative early fruit weight of both cultivars when planted in the open fields (2.2 tons/acre) and the cumulative fruit yields of ‘Springhigh’ and ‘Snow Chaser’ growing inside the high tunnels was twice and four times higher, respectively, than the early fruit production obtained in the open fields. These data showed the profound effect of high tunnels on flower protection and fruit set. High tunnels reduced water use for freeze protection. The total volume used in the open fields during the freezing or near-freezing days was ≈2.5 acre-inch/acre per 8 hours of freeze protection, whereas only 1/10 of that volume was applied inside the structures.
Fruit detachment in blueberry (Vaccinium sp.) may occur through the physiological process of abscission or through physical separation by breakage. Natural and induced fruit detachment through abscission occurs at the peduncle–pedicel junction (PPJ), while detachment through breakage typically occurs at the fruit–pedicel junction (FPJ). The ease of fruit detachment varies across blueberry genotypes, and a better understanding of such variation may allow for the development of genotypes better suited for hand and mechanical harvesting. TH-729 and ‘Suziblue’ are sibling southern highbush blueberry (hybrids composed largely of Vaccinium corymbosum and Vaccinium darrowi) genotypes derived from the same cross (‘Star’ × TH-474) and differ in their fruit detachment characteristics. Anatomical and molecular basis of the difference in fruit detachment between these genotypes was investigated in this study. Greater than 85% of the mature fruit of TH-729 detached at the PPJ in response to mechanical shaking in contrast to that observed in ‘Suziblue’, where greater than 90% of the fruit detached at the FPJ. The anatomy of the abscission zones (AZs) at the PPJ was similar between the two genotypes indicating that they did not differ in the establishment of the AZ. The fracture plane at the PPJ of manually detached fruit was more even in TH-729 compared with that in ‘Suziblue’, where many ruptured cells were evident. These data suggest advanced progression of abscission at the PPJ in TH-729 compared with that in ‘Suziblue’. The expression of 28 genes related to cell wall and membrane metabolism, phytohormone metabolism and signaling, and transcriptional regulation was compared between the two genotypes. Of these, two genes, ILL1 (iaa-leu resistant 1 like 3) and BIM1 (bes-interacting myc like1), associated with auxin metabolism and brassinosteroid signaling displayed over 3-fold and 1.5-fold higher transcript accumulation, respectively, in TH-729. Also, OPR1 (12-oxophytodienoate reductase), a gene associated with jasmonate (JA) biosynthesis, displayed 33% lower transcript levels in TH-729. As phytohormone signaling regulates the acquisition of competence for abscission, these data suggest that this phase of abscission progression at the PPJ differed between the two genotypes. Together, data from this study suggest inherent differences in the progression of abscission at the PPJ in blueberry. Such variation can be exploited to develop genotypes with desired harvesting characteristics.
and Sherman, 1971 ). Vaccinium darrowi is a low-growing fire-adapted evergreen species that has no chilling requirement. It produces small berries and has a relatively long bloom-to-ripe berry development period. The recurrent selection process that
glycosides. The composition of phenolic acids in cranberry leaves has not been reported in the literature, although the phenolic composition of leaves of related species Vaccinium myrtillus ( Witzell et al., 2003 ) and Vaccinium darrowi ( Ranger et al
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