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Fan-Hsuan Yang, David R. Bryla, and R. Troy Peters

Heat-related fruit damage is a prevalent issue in northern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) in various growing regions, including the northwestern United States. To help address the issue, we developed a simple climatological model to predict blueberry fruit temperatures based on local weather data and to simulate the effects of using over-canopy sprinklers for cooling the fruit. Predictions of fruit temperature on sunny days correlated strongly with the actual values (R 2 = 0.91) and had a root mean-square error of ≈2 °C. Among the parameters tested, ambient air temperature and light intensity had the greatest impact on fruit temperature, whereas wind speed and fruit size had less impact, and relative humidity had no impact. Cooling efficiency was estimated successfully under different sprinkler cooling intervals by incorporating a water application factor that was calculated based on the amount of water applied and the time required for water to evaporate from the fruit surface between the intervals. The results indicate that water temperature and nozzle flow rate affected the extent to which cooling with sprinklers reduced fruit temperature. However, prolonging the runtime of the sprinklers did not guarantee lower temperatures during cooling, because cooling efficiency declined as the temperature of the fruit approached the temperature of the irrigation water. Users could incorporate the model into weather forecast programs to predict the incidence of heat damage and could use it to make cooling decisions in commercial blueberry fields.

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Kelly Gude, Cary L. Rivard, Sara E. Gragg, Kimberly Oxley, Petros Xanthopoulos, and Eleni D. Pliakoni

.R. 2016 Evaporative cooling with sprinklers to reduce heat-related fruit damage in northern highbush blueberry HortScience 51 S33 (abstr.)