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Open access

Patrick H. Kingston, Carolyn F. Scagel, David R. Bryla, and Bernadine C. Strik

Peat and coir are commonly used for substrate production of highbush blueberry (Vaccinium sp.). Perlite is also typically added to improve drainage and stability of the media. The purpose of the present study was to determine how various combinations of each affect growth and nutrition in highbush blueberry. Two cultivars, ‘Liberty’ northern highbush blueberry (V. corymbosum L.) and ‘Jewel’ southern highbush blueberry (interspecific hybrid of V. corymbosum L. and V. darrowii Camp.), were grown for 3 months in media containing 0%, 10%, 20%, or 30% perlite, by volume, and a 1:0, 2:1, 1:2, or 0:1 ratio of peat and coir. At 95 days after transplanting, total dry weight of the ‘Liberty’ plants was greatest in pure peat and progressively less as more coir or perlite was added to the media. Total dry weight of ‘Jewel’ also declined with increasing amounts of perlite but, in this case, was unaffected by the ratio of peat and coir. The response of the plants to perlite did not appear to be a function of pH or nutrition and was most likely related to the effects of perlite on media water relations. Response to peat and coir, on the other hand, may have been due to nutrition and salinity of the media. In both cultivars, a higher amount of peat in the media improved uptake of N, P, Mg, and S and decreased uptake of K, B, Zn, and Na. Coir, on the other hand, contained higher concentrations of Na and Cl than peat. These findings suggest that the use of high amounts of perlite in the media could be detrimental when growing highbush blueberry in substrate, and some cultivars may grow better in peat than in coir.

Free access

Rebecca L. Darnell, Bruno Casamali, and Jeffrey G. Williamson

Successful blueberry (Vaccinium sp.) cultivation typically requires soils with low pH, high organic matter, readily available iron, and nitrogen (N) in the ammonium form. Growth of blueberry on typical mineral soils (higher pH, low organic matter) is reduced. Although soil pH effects on nutrient availability and uptake are known, it is unclear if the requirement for low soil pH in blueberry production is due to effects on nutrient availability/uptake or is a more direct effect of rhizosphere pH on root function. In addition, it is unclear if the requirement for high organic matter (soil amendments) is related directly to nutrient availability/uptake. Several studies have examined the use of rootstocks to increase soil adaptation of blueberry and some of these rootstocks have been found to increase plant vigor and yield. In particular, we have investigated whether sparkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum)—a wild blueberry species that is adapted to high pH and low organic matter soils—could be used as a rootstock for commercial production of blueberry on mineral soils. Our work indicates that both nitrate (NO3 ) and iron (Fe) uptake and assimilation are greater in sparkleberry compared with southern highbush blueberry [SHB (Vaccinium corymbosum interspecific hybrid)]. This is correlated with increased activity of nitrate reductase (NR) and iron chelate reductase, the rate limiting enzymes for NO3 and Fe acquisition, respectively. Field studies comparing growth and yield of own-rooted vs. grafted ‘Meadowlark’ and ‘Farthing’ SHB in amended vs. nonamended soils are ongoing. In general, own-rooted plants on amended soils exhibit greater growth than own-rooted on nonamended soils, while grafted plants in either soil system exhibit intermediate growth. Yields generally followed this pattern. Our preliminary results suggest that tolerance of SHB to mineral soils is greater when plants are grafted onto sparkleberry than when grown on their own roots. However, growth and yield of grafted plants grown under mineral soil conditions may not equal or exceed that of own-rooted plants grown under optimum soil conditions, at least in the first years after field planting. Longer term studies are necessary to fully evaluate the potential of using sparkleberry and other blueberry species as rootstocks for SHB and northern highbush blueberry (V. corymbosum).

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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.

Free access

Tripti Vashisth, D. Scott NeSmith, and Anish Malladi

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.

Free access

D. Scott NeSmith

® ( V. corymbosum ‘TH-682’ USPP 21222), Summer Sunset™ ( Vaccinium sp. ‘T-885’ USPP 23374), and ‘Perpetua’ ( Vaccinium hybrid USPP 24209) ( Finn et al., 2015 ; NeSmith and Ehlenfeldt, 2010 , 2011 ). ‘TO-1088’ (USPP 28467) Cutie Pie™ is a new

Free access

D. Scott NeSmith and Mark K. Ehlenfeldt

In addition to breeding cultivars for commercial blueberry ( Vaccinium sp.) production, ornamental value has been a trait of interest for many blueberry breeders for a number of years ( Galletta and Ballington, 1996 ). An older dwarf cultivar

Free access

D. Scott NeSmith

Southern highbush blueberries ( Vaccinium sp.) continue to increase in importance in Georgia and across the southern United States. Growers are particularly interested in their early ripening to enter the market just after fruit from the southern

Free access

D. Scott NeSmith

Southern highbush blueberries ( Vaccinium sp.) continue to increase in importance in Georgia and across the southern United States. Growers are interested in early ripening varieties and are especially keen to find southern highbush varieties with

Free access

D. Scott NeSmith

Southern highbush blueberries ( Vaccinium sp.) are becoming increasingly important in Georgia and across the southern United States. Growers are particularly interested in their early ripening to be able to enter the market just after fruit from

Free access

Gerardo H. Nunez, James W. Olmstead, and Rebecca L. Darnell

with H + ( Pii et al., 2014 ; Santi et al., 2003 ), nitrate uptake in Vaccinium sp. could lead to pH increases in the rhizosphere, as it does in other woody plants ( Jimenez et al., 2007 ; Sas et al., 2003 ). Hence, iron and nitrate uptake are