Containerized `Climax' and `Beckyblue' rabbiteye blueberry plants (Vaccinium ashei Reade) were exposed to 5 weeks of natural daylengths (i.e. gradually decreasing daylengths from 12 to 11 hr) or shortened daylengths (i.e. gradually decreasing daylengths from 10 to 8 hr) starting October 1. `Beckyblue' initiated twice as many flower buds under short days compared to longer days. The following spring, `Beckyblue' plants exposed to shortened photoperiods the previous fall had a greater percentage of floral budbreak (based on the number of flower buds formed within each treatment) and a shorter, more concentrated bloom period than did plants exposed to longer photoperiods the previous fall. Fresh weight per berry increased following the short fall photoperiod treatment, despite the fact that fruit number was higher. `Climax' did not respond to the photoperiod treatments in any way. Leaf carbon assimilation rates of both cultivars increased under short days, but there was no detectable effect of photoperiod on current carbon partitioning in either cultivar, suggesting that flower bud initiation is not limited by current source leaf assimilate supply under these conditions.
Rebecca L. Darnell
Rebecca L. Darnell
Containerized `Climax' and `Beckyblue' rabbiteye blueberry plants (Vaccinium ashei Reade) were exposed to 5 weeks of natural daylengths or shortened daylengths starting 30 Sept. `Beckyblue' plants exposed to short daylengths in the fall initiated more flower buds and had a shorter, more concentrated bloom period than did plants exposed to natural fall daylengths. Reproductive development of `Climax' was not influenced by photoperiod treatments. Leaf carbon assimilation of both cultivars increased under short days. Partitioning of translocated 14C-labeled assimilates to stem tissue increased under short photoperiods for `Beckyblue'; however, partitioning patterns in `Climax' were not affected. Increased carbon fixation and increased partitioning of carbon to stem tissue under short days may contribute to the observed effect of short days on enhancing reproductive development in `Beckyblue'.
Umpika Poonnachit and Rebecca L. Darnell
Vaccinium corymbosum, one of the cultivated blueberry species, is not well-adapted to mineral soils, which are generally marked by high pH, the predominance of NO3-N over NH4-N, and limited iron availability. A wild species, V. arboreum, grows naturally on mineral soils, and thus may be better adapted than V. corymbosum. This adaptation may be related to the ability of V. arboreum to assimilate NO3 and/or iron more efficiently than V. corymbosum. Both species were grown in a hydroponic solution containing 5.0 mM N as (NH4)2SO4 or NaNO3, and buffered to pH 5.5. Nitrate reductase (NR) and iron reductase (FeR) activities were measured. NR activity was higher in V. arboreum compared with V. corymbosum when grown with N03-N, while no difference between species was observed when grown under NH4-N. Activity of FeR was higher in V. arboreum compared with V. corymbosum, and higher under NO3-N compared with NH4-N. After 5 months in hydroponics, Fe was removed from one-half of the solutions. The activity of NRA in both species was higher under Fe-sufficient compared with Fe-limited conditions, but in both cases, activity was higher in V. arboreum compared with V. corymbosum. FeR activity continued to be higher in V. arboreum compared with V. corymbosum, and under NO3 compared with NH4-N. Activity decreased in both species under limited Fe conditions, and there were no interactions between species and Fe. These data indicate that V. arboreum possesses higher NR and FeR activities than V. corymbosum, under both Fe-sufficient and Fe-limited conditions. This may play a role in the better adaptability of V arboreum to mineral soil conditions.
Raguel Cano—M and Rebecca L. Darnell
The effects of different GA3 concentrations and application times on fruit set, fruit development period, and fruit quality in rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium ashei Reade) were studied. Flower clusters were sprayed with 100 or 250 ppm GA3 at 90% full bloom and again 7 days later, or with 125 ppm GA3 at 90% full bloom and again 7, 21, and 42 days later, under greenhouse conditions. Fruit set was monitored every 10 days and fruit weight, fruit development period, soluble solids, and titratable acidity were measured at harvest.
Fruit set in GA3 treatments averaged 69 to 76% compared to an average of 43% for the pollinated control. Weight of GA3 treated berries averaged 1.2, g while that of pollinated berries averaged 2.0 g. However, calculated total yield was greater for the GA3 treatments compared to the pollinated control, averaging 244 and 206 g/treatment, respectively. GA3 increased the fruit development period by 2 to 11 days, depending on the treatment. Soluble solids and titratable acidity were not affected by any treatment.
Rebecca L. Darnell and Frederick S. Davies
Potted `Tifblue', Woodard', and `Climax' rabbiteye blueberry plants (Vaccinium ashei Reade) were exposed to artificial or natural chilling regimes (< 7C) ranging from 100 to 1000 hours during the dormant season to determine the effects on budbreak and fruit set. Insufficient chilling increased the days to 50% vegetative and floral budbreak in all three cultivars. The amount of floral budbreak increased in `Tifblue' and `Woodard', but decreased in `Climax' as chilling increased. Insufficient chilling did not decrease percent fruit set of hand-pollinated flowers in any cultivar, indicating that the fruit-setting potential of these cultivars is unrelated to chilling.
Donald J. Merhaut and Rebecca L. Darnell
Commercial blueberry production is limited primarily to soils where ammonium, rather than nitrate, is the predominant N form. However, Vaccinium arboreum, a species native to northern Florida, often is found growing in soils where nitrate is the major N form. This species may serve as a breeding source or rootstock for commercial blueberries, expanding the potential soil types that may be used for blueberry cultivation. In our study, in vivo nitrate reductase activity (NRA) was measured in roots and leaves of 2-year-old seedlings of V. arboreum and a commercial cultivar, V. corymbosum `Sharpblue'. Plants were grown hydroponically in sand culture and fertilized with a modified Hoagland's solution containing N as either ammonium, ammonium nitrate, or nitrate. Vaccinium arboreum averaged nitrite at 200, 60, and 20 nmol/g fresh weight per h for nitrate, ammonium nitrate, and ammonium fertilized plants, respectively. `Sharpblue' root NRA was significantly lower, averaging nitrite 50, 38, and 8 nmol/g fresh weight per h for nitrate, ammonium nitrate, and ammonium fertilized plants, respectively. NRA was much lower in leaves than roots of V. arboreum, averaging nitrite at ≈15 nmol nmol/g fresh weight per h across N treatments. No NRA was detected in the leaves of `Sharpblue', regardless of N treatment. These data suggest that V. arboreum may be used as a rootstock or breeding source to expand blueberry production into soil types that are higher in nitrate than the soils typically used for blueberry production.
Donald J. Merhaut and Rebecca L. Darnell
The influence of stage of vegetative flush development on NH4NO3-N uptake and carbon and nitrogen partitioning was evaluated in two-year-old 'Climax' rabbiteye blueberries using dual labeling with 15N and14C. Plants were grown in sand and fertilized with a modified Hoagland's solution. Plants were pruned to induce three stages of vegetative development: flush initiation, mid -flush, and flush maturity.
Total nitrogen uptake did not differ for the different stages of growth. However, N allocation to leaves was greatest at mid-flush, possibly due to higher transpiration rates of developing leaves. Total 14C partitioning to roots was reduced at mid-flush, compared to the other growth stages, reflecting the increased demand for carbon by growing shoots. Although less carbon was allocated to roots at mid-flush,this did not limit N uptake.
Raouel Cano-Medrano and Rebecca L. Darnell
Exogenous applications of GA, have induced pathenocarpic fruit set in blueberry; however, size of GA,-treated fruit is smaller than pollinated fruit. The small fruit size in GA3-treated fruit may be related to either cell number and/or cell size. Thus, these parameters were examined throughout development in pollinated, non-pollinated and GA3-treated fruits. Fruit growth followed a double sigmoid pattern. During Stage I (0-25 DAA), fruit size in GA,-treated, pollinated, and non-pollinated fruits averaged 0.33, 0.39, and 0.16 g, respectively. There was little change in fruit size in Stage II (25-45 DAA). At ripening, fruit size averaged 1.7 g for GA,-treated and 2.6 g for pollinated fruits. Non-pollinated fruit abscised in Stage II. At anthesis, mesocarp cell number averaged 9910 cells per median cross sectional area and remained constant up to ripening. In Stage I, cell size in G A3-treated and pollinated fruits increased 7X and 9X respectively. Cell size in both fruit types increased 1.5X and 2.8X during Stage II and Stage 111, respectively. Fruit cell number was set at anthesis and differences in fruit size were due to differences in cell ellongation in Stage I.
Keith T. Birkhold and Rebecca L. Darnell
Partitioning of carbon and nitrogen reserves were examined in two cultivars of rabbiteye blueberries (Vaccinium ashei] differing in their timing of vegetative budbreak relative to floral budbreak. Floral budbreak precedes vegetative budbreak in `Climax', while floral and vegetative budbreak occur concomitantly in `Bonita'. Twenty eight containerized plants from each cultivar were dual labeled in the fall with 105 μCi of 14C02 and 0.6 g of nitrogen enriched with 5% 15N. Plants were grown outdoors throughout the winter and the following growing season. At five dates, beginning 27 days prior to full bloom and ending at fruit maturity, plants were harvested into old shoots, roots, fruit, and vegetative growth.
Fall leaf drop accounted for loss of 12% of applied N and 20% of applied 14C. In the first harvest, approximately 73% of the recovered 15N and 50% of the recovered 14C was in the roots for both cultivars. By fruit maturity, approximately 8% of the recovered 15N was in the fruits, 51% in new vegetative growth, and 41% in old shoots and roots. Approximately 1.2% of the recovered 14C was in fruit, 1.5% in vegetative growth, and 97% in old shoots and roots. Data suggest that differences in the timing of vegetative budbreak between these two cultivars do not influence overall partitioning patterns of reserve carbon and nitrogen.
Rebecca L. Darnell and Keith B. Birkhold
Rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium ashei Reade) cultivars differ in timing of floral and vegetative budbreak and in final fruit size. For example, `Bonita' exhibits concomitant floral and vegetative budbreak and has relatively large fruit size, while floral budbreak precedes vegetative budbreak in `Climax' and fruit size is smaller. Mobilization of carbohydrate before and during fruit development in `Bonita' and `Climax' rabbiteye blueberries was examined to determine if differences in carbohydrate availability between these two cultivars were correlated with differences in fruit size. Root dry mass (DM) of both cultivars decreased from dormancy (31 days before anthesis) through fruit development. Sugar concentrations in roots and stems of both cultivars decreased significantly between dormancy and anthesis, then remained relatively steady throughout fruit development. Starch concentrations in roots and stems of `Bonita' decreased significantly between dormancy and anthesis. The extent of total starch depletion in `Climax' was similar; however, the decrease was more gradual, extending from dormancy to 28 days after anthesis (DAA); at which time, vegetative budbreak in `Climax' occurred. Thus, although total reserve carbohydrate pool sizes were similar between the two cultivars, remobilization patterns were different, resulting in increased starch mobilization in `Bonita' compared to `Climax' in the period leading up to anthesis. Concentration of 14C from reserve carbon sources was similar in flowers of both cultivars at anthesis. These values declined throughout fruit development as a result of dilution of the labeled carbon by unlabeled carbon from current photosynthesis. There was a sharper decline in 14C concentration of `Bonita' fruit compared to `Climax' fruit between anthesis and 51 DAA. This, coupled with differences in timing of vegetative budbreak between the two cultivars, suggests that `Bonita' fruit were accessing current (unlabeled) assimilate earlier (i.e., before 51 DAA) than `Climax' fruit. Smaller fruit size in `Climax' compared to `Bonita' may be a consequence of a decrease in reserve carbohydrate mobilization to `Climax' flower buds before anthesis relative to `Bonita', as well as a delay or reduction in the availability of current carbohydrates to developing `Climax' fruit between anthesis and 51 DAA.