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Anna K. Kirk and Rufus Isaacs

To maximize yield of pollination-dependent agricultural crops, farmers must ensure that sufficient pollinators are present when flowers are open and viable. We characterized and compared the lower development threshold temperature, bloom phenology, and flower viability of five common cultivars of highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) to enable prediction of when flowers would be available for pollination. Threshold temperatures of all cultivars were found to be very similar and range between 7 and 8 °C. Logistic regression was used to characterize bloom phenology for all cultivars under field and greenhouse conditions. Bloom phenology under greenhouse conditions was delayed ≈100 growing degree-days when compared with field conditions. Average flower viability was determined daily from first flower opening until 5 days after flower opening for each cultivar. Results indicated declining flower viability with increasing flower age with most flowers unsuitable for pollination more than 4 days after opening. Implications of these results for planning pollination of highbush blueberry fields are discussed.