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  • Author or Editor: J.G. Williamson x
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I conducted an experiment to determine the effects of time of rootstock shoot removal on growth of citrus nursery plants forced by bending and lopping. `Hamlin' orange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osb.] budded on Carrizo citrange [C. sinensis (L.) × Poncirus trifoliata (L.) Raf.] and Cleopatra mandarin (C. reticulata Blanco) seedlings were grown in 2.8-L plastic pots and forced by bending or lopping the rootstock shoots. For Carrizo plants, rootstock shoots were removed 0, 21, 36, 170, or 235 days after forcing. For Cleopatra plants, rootstock shoots were removed 0, 11, 21, 36, 170, and 235 days after forcing. Bending and lopping with rootstock shoots remaining attached for 36 days after forcing resulted in greater nursery tree growth (scion, root, and wholeplant dry masses; scion length; and leaf area) than when rootstock shoots were removed the day of forcing. Growth of scion leaves (both rootstocks) and stems (Cleopatra) was greatest at a rootstock shoot removal time (RSRT) of 36 days after forcing. However, root and whole plant dry masses increased as RSRT increased up to 235 days after forcing. These results suggest that roots continue to be a major sink for rootstock photosynthates of bent or lopped plants during periods after the first scion growth flush. Proportionally greater root growth occurred on plants forced by bending or lopping when rootstock shoots were left attached for more than the usual 4 to 5 weeks after forcing.

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Two experiments were conducted to determine the effects of rootstock and bud-forcing treatment on scion budbreak and nursery tree growth of `Hamlin' orange. In Expt. 1, `Carrizo' citrange, `Swingle' citrumelo, and `Cleopatra' mandarin were budded with `Hamlin' orange and forced by one of the following methods: cutting off (purning away the rootstock top about 2 cm above the inserted scion bud); lopping (cutting half to two-thirds of the way through the rootstock stem 2 cm above the bud union, and breaking over the stem but leaving it attached); or bending (bending the rootstock shoot above the inserted scion bud and tying it to the base of the plant). For `Swingle' only, percent budbreak was less for bending or lopping compared to cutting off. For `Carrizo' and `Swingle', scion dry weights were less when plants were forced by cutting off compared to bending or lopping. For all rootstocks, whole-plant dry weights were greater for plants forced by bending and lopping than for plants forced by cutting off. In Expt. 2, scion buds on `Swingle' and `Cleopatra' plants were forced by the three methods in Expt. 1 plus combinations of bending with notching (making an inverted V incision through the bark and into the wood on the rootstock stem directly above the scion bud) and/or topping (removing the teminal 2 cm of rootstock shoot tips of plants forced by bending). Percent scion budbreak was high for `Cleopatra' plants regardless of forcing treatment. For `Swingle', scion budbreak was greater when bending was combined with notching than for bending alone. For `Cleopatra', plant dry weight was greatest for plants forced by lopping. When bending was combined with notching, or notching with topping, `Swingle' scion budbreak was comparable to cutting off, but plant dry weights were greater with these combination treatments than when cutting off was used.

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Three experiments were conducted in north-central Florida to determine the effects of fall defoliation on flower bud initiation and yield of southern highbush (SHB) blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum hybrid). In 1998, randomly selected upright shoots of mature, field-grown `Misty' and `Sharpblue' plants were hand-defoliated at monthly intervals beginning 4 Sept. and ending 7 Dec. In 1999, a similar study was conducted using different plants of the same cultivars. Representative shoots were defoliated at monthly intervals beginning 14 Sept. and ending 15 Dec. Additional shoots were also partially defoliated by removing the distal two-thirds of each leaf at monthly intervals from 15 Oct. through 15 Dec. In a third experiment, 2-year-old container-grown `Star' SHB plants were completely defoliated at monthly intervals beginning 13 Sept. and ending 15 Dec. In each experiment, control shoots, or plants ('Star'), were not defoliated. Although there were differences among cultivars and years, all cultivars tested demonstrated negative effects on reproductive growth and development from September and October defoliations. For `Sharpblue', reduced fruit yield from early fall defoliation appeared to be due to fewer fruit set per flower bud. However, for `Misty', reduced fruit yield from early fall defoliation was the result of large reductions in flower bud numbers as well as fewer fruit set per flower bud. September and October defoliations of `Star' reduced yields or delayed fruit ripening. Collectively, these experiments demonstrate the importance of maintaining healthy foliage through October in the lower southeastern United States for adequate flower bud initiation and high yields of SHB blueberry the following spring.

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Growth and yield of ‘Misty’ and ‘Star’ southern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum hybrid) plants that were grown in pine bark culture were evaluated under several rates of granular or liquid fertilizers. Granular fertilizer resulted in larger canopy volumes and slightly greater annual fruit yield than liquid fertilizer. In 2003 and 2004, canopy growth increased linearly as fertilizer rate increased up to the highest rate tested [81 g nitrogen (N), 11.8 g phosphorus (P), and 44.6 g potassium (K) per plant per year]. Similarly, a positive relationship was found for fruit yield and fertilizer rate during all 3 years. Berry yield was positively correlated with canopy size, and there was no relationship between fertilizer rate and berry yield per canopy volume, indicating that yield and canopy volume increased proportionally with increased fertilizer rate. Mean ‘Star’ berry weight was greater for granular fertilizer treatments than for liquid fertilizer treatments, but mean berry weight of ‘Misty’ was unaffected by fertilizer form. At the end of the experiment, visual examination of eight plants excavated by hand indicated that root systems of blueberry plants were primarily located in the pine bark layer with very few roots penetrating into the underlying soil. Limited water and nutrient holding capacities of pine bark, coupled with frequent irrigations to the shallow root systems in pine bark culture, probably resulted in considerable nutrient leaching and a high fertilizer requirement.

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