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David C. Percival, John T. A. Proctor and J. Alan Sullivan

A study examining the influence of trickle irrigation (TI), IRT-76 plastic film (PF) and straw mulch (SM) on the establishment of Rubus idaeus L. cv. `Heritage' micro-propagated raspberries was initiated at Cambridge, Ontario in 1993. Environmental, nutritional, vegetative and reproductive data were collected. Soil temperature and soil water status were greatly affected by TI, PF and SM. TI lowered soil NO3-N and increased soil NH4-N and Mg. PF increased soil NO3-N and NH4-N. Foliar N decreased by 10% with TI and increased by 8% with PF. Foliar P and Ca increased by 45 and 6% respectively, with TI. Node number was not influenced by TI, PF or SM. PF however, increased cane height, cane diameter, dry weight and leaf area by 14, 17, 77 and 11% respectively, and TI increased cane diameter by 13%. Although TI increased the number of fruiting laterals by 63%, there was no effect of TI, PF or SM on harvested berry number or weight.

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Rizwan Maqbool, David Percival, Qamar Zaman, Tess Astatkie, Sina Adl and Deborah Buszard

The study examined the main and interactive effects of soil-applied fertilizers [nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K)] from a 12-year (six production cycles) field experiment conducted at Kemptown, Nova Scotia (Canada). It also recommends the optimum rate for improved growth and harvestable yield of wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait.). The fertilizers were applied in a single application at the onset of shoot emergence in early spring of each sprout year at rates of 0, 12, 30, 48, and 60 kg·ha−1 N using urea (2000 only) or ammonium sulfate, 0, 18, 45, 78, and 90 kg·ha−1 P using triple super phosphate, 0, 12, 30, 48, and 60 kg·ha−1 K using potassium chloride. Response surface analysis of the data indicated that 35 kg·ha−1 N, 40 kg·ha−1 P, and 30 kg·ha−1 K were optimum for fruit production and maintaining stem lengths <20 cm, and resulted in an average of 54% more floral buds, 25% more berries per stem, and 13% greater yield than previous recommend rates of 20 kg·ha−1 N, 10 kg·ha−1 P, and 15 kg·ha−1 K. The higher fertilizers rates cost an extra $80/ha but increased net profits by $490/ha. Findings of this study could contribute toward better farm profitability in areas with similar growing conditions. They also suggest that modifications to existing fertilizer rates be made for Central Nova Scotia wild blueberry.

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David C. Percival, Dianne Stevens, Glen Sampson, Gary Patterson and Klaus Jensen

The influence of noninvasive, companion crops on lowbush blueberry production was examined at the Nova Scotia Wild Blueberry Inst. in 1998. A randomized complete-block experimental design was used with four replications and a plot size of 10 × 6 m. Treatments consisted of a control (no companion crop), sawdust, creeping red fescue, hard fescue, chewings fescue, sheeps fescue, birdsfoot trefoil (BFT), and redtop. Measurements of companion crop height, dry weight, and density, and lowbush blueberry vegetative and reproductive data were recorded. In addition, the effects of the companion crops on soil stability and weed pressures were measured at the conclusion of the growing season. Overall, the fescues and BFT established well within the blueberry canopy and in bare areas with plant densities ranging from 960 plants/m2 to 3500 plants/m2, plant dry weights of 7.2 to 11.7 mg/plant, and plant heights of 5.4 to 9.5 cm. The use of the companion crops increased yields with yields from the creeping red and hard fescue treatments being 9.0% and 13% greater, respectively, than the control. The creeping red and hard fescue treatments also significantly reduced weed pressures and increased soil stability. Therefore, using companion crops in lowbush blueberry production appears to be a viable management strategy with future research being required on herbicide use, fertility regimes, and harvestability.

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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.