Poor fruit set and sub-optimum berry size are potential yield- and profit-limiting factors for southern highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum) blueberry production in Florida. The cytokinin N-(2-chloro-4-pyridyl)-N'-phenylurea (CPPU) has increased fruit size and fruit set of a number of fruit crops including rabbiteye blueberry. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of CPPU applied at different rates and phenological stages of bloom and/or fruit development on fruit size, set, and yield of southern highbush blueberry. `Millennia' and `Star' southern highbush blueberry plants located on a commercial blueberry farm in Alachua County, Fla., were treated with 5 or 10 ppm CPPU at various stages of development ranging from full bloom to 20 days after full bloom. In contrast to findings with rabbiteye blueberry, fruit set in this study of southern highbush blueberry was not affected by any of the CPPU treatments when compared to the controls. Nor was total fruit yield affected by CPPU treatments. The most noticeable potential benefit found in this study was an increase in mean fruit fresh weight from CPPU treatments. However, cultivars responded differently to CPPU with respect to mean fruit fresh weight. For `Millennia', only one CPPU treatment increased mean fruit weight compared to controls. However, for `Star', all but one CPPU treatment increased mean fruit fresh weight. Several CPPU treatments resulted in delayed fruit ripening for `Star' but not for `Millennia'. For `Star', the treatments that most consistently delayed fruit ripening tended to have greater fruit fresh weights.
Jeffrey G. Williamson* and E. Paul Miller
Jeffrey G. Williamson and E. Paul Miller
Bearing `Misty' and `Star' southern highbush blueberries were grown on pine bark beds and fertilized at three rates using granular and liquid fertilizers with a 3–1–2 (1N–0.83K–0.88P) ratio. Granular fertilizer was applied 8 times per year at 4-week intervals beginning in April and continuing through October. Liquid fertilizer was applied with low volume irrigation 16 times per year at 2-week intervals during the same period. During the growing season, irrigation was applied at 2- to 3-day intervals in the absence of rain. A 2 cultivar × 2 fertilizer type × 3 fertilizer rate factorial arrangement of treatments was replicated 8 times in a randomized complete-block design. All fruits were harvested from single-plant plots at 3- to 4-day intervals. Canopy volume was not affected by fertilizer type, but fruit yield was slightly greater for granular than for liquid fertilizer treatments. In 2003, fruit yield of 2.5-year-old `Misty' and `Star' plants increased with increasing fertilizer rates up to the highest rate tested (50 g N/plant/year). Similarly, in 2004, fruit yields increased with increasing fertilizer rates up to the highest rate (81 g N/plant/year). Root distribution was limited to the 12-cm-deep layer of pine bark with very few roots penetrating into the underlying soil. The positive growth responses of blueberry plants to high fertilizer rates in pine bark beds suggests that soluble fertilizer was leached through the pine bark layer into the soil below the root zone. More frequent, lighter applications of soluble fertilizers, use of slow-release or controlled-release fertilizers, and careful irrigation management may improve fertilizer use efficiency of blueberry plantings on pine bark beds.
Virginia I. Miller, Paul E. Read, and Erika Szendrák
The American Chestnut Foundation (ACF) has conducted a breeding program aimed at developing blight-resistant chestnut trees exhibiting the phenotype of American Chestnut [Castanea dentata (Marsh) Borkh]. Because such plants are difficult to propagate, we developed a protocol for in vitro multiplication of candidate blight-resistant plants resulting from the ACF breeding programs. Dormant shoots were taken from 5- to 8-year-old trees and forced, producing softwood growth for use as a source of explants for shoot multiplication. Best shoot proliferation took place on WPM containing 0.2 mg BA/L. Explant material for the rooting experiments was taken from 6- to 12-month-old proliferating cultures. The basal rooting medium consisted of WPM containing 0.01 mg IBA/L and was overlaid with a thin opaque layer. Rooting was enhanced overall with this bilayer approach. A “D/W” medium (DKW and WPM) was also used as a rooting medium containing 0.01 mg IBA/L and 0.2 mg BA/L, which further enhanced leaf quality and rooting for some genotypes. After several transfers on the bilayer system, explant growth appeared to become less juvenile in stem and leaf development and more analogous to mature later-season growth. The rooting responses and the time for rooting to be induced were highly variable among the different genotypes.
Virginia Miller-Roether, Paul E. Read, and Erika Szendrak
The American Chestnut Foundation (ACF) has conducted a breeding program aimed at developing blight-resistant chestnut trees exhibiting the phenotype of American Chestnut (Castanea dentata). We developed a protocol for in vitro micropropagation and multiplication of candidate blight-resistant plants from the ACF breeding program. The protocol included forcing dormant shoots to budbreak, culture establishment, shoot multiplication, inducing a functional root system on the microcuttings produced by this system and establishment of autotrophic plants. Because Castanea spp. is recalcitrant to rooting, a unique bilayer method of rooting was developed. The unique bilayer consisted of a clear basal medium of 50% DKW and 50% WPM (Long and Preece), with a continuous level of 0.01 mg IBA/L and 0.2 mg BA/L. The clear basal medium was over-laid with an opaque layer. Rooting response occurred for 27 of the 31 genotypes at various frequencies. Rooted plantlets were planted in 50% peat: 50% perlite in order to become autotrophic and acclimated. Acclimated trees were planted in 10″ × 2″ Deepots® and placed in the greenhouse. These trees exhibited a very vigorous functional root system. Acclimated trees were hardened off, placed in cold storage (≈4-5 °C) for 5 months. All trees placed in cold storage broke dormancy for spring growth and ≈100 trees were sent to ACF for planting into field trials.
Todd Wert, Jeffrey G. Williamson, Robert E. Rouse, and E. Paul Miller
Four low-chill peach cultivars were evaluated for vegetative and reproductive growth, fruit quality, and yield in north central and central Florida. Twenty-trees (five of each cultivar) were planted at each site in Feb. 2002. Prior to budbreak in the spring of 2004 and 2005, three shoots of average length and diameter were selected at a height of 1.5–2.0 m and the number of vegetative and flower buds was recorded for each shoot. Percentage of bloom was estimated, and the number of open flowers on selected shoots was measured weekly. Trees were harvested twice per week starting in mid-April in central Florida, and in late April in north central Florida. Total number and weight of marketable fruit was measured for each tree. Ten representative fruits were selected from each tree at each harvest. Fruit were measured for blush, weight, and size. Soluble solids, TAA, and pressure were determined for five fruit from each 10-fruit sample. Preliminary results indicate a higher mean number of blind nodes in central Florida and a higher mean number of flower buds in north central Florida. In central Florida, 90% bloom was about 4 days earlier than north central Florida. Fruit number and individual fruit size, weight, and marketable yield were higher in north central Florida than in central Florida. Fruit blush was higher in central Florida than in north central Florida and tended to increase as the season progressed. In north central Florida, blush decreased slightly throughout the season.
Todd W. Wert, Jeffrey G. Williamson, Jose X. Chaparro, E. Paul Miller, and Robert E. Rouse
The effect of climate was observed on the relative frequency of vegetative and floral buds in four low-chill peach cultivars (‘Flordaprince’, ‘Flordaglo’, ‘UFGold’, and ‘TropicBeauty’). The trees were planted in north–central, central, and southwest Florida. The percentage of blind nodes, mixed nodes (nodes with vegetative and floral buds), and nodes with only vegetative buds were determined from three representative shoots per tree at each location. In general, higher percentages of blind nodes were observed in central and southwest Florida and higher percentages of mixed nodes were observed in north–central Florida. ‘TropicBeauty’ tended to have a greater percentage of blind nodes than the other cultivars. Higher temperatures during bud formation most likely contributed to the increased amounts of blind nodes observed in the central and southwest locations and to the reduced amounts of mixed nodes. However, stresses imposed by bacterial spot and hurricanes may have contributed to the higher incidence of blind nodes in 2005. Our results indicate that certain genotypes have a predisposition for the formation of blind nodes. Advanced selections having low chilling requirements and potentially being adapted to a wide diversity of tropical or subtropical climates need to be tested in multiple locations to evaluate blind node formation.
Todd W. Wert, Jeffrey G. Williamson, José X. Chaparro, E. Paul Miller, and Robert E. Rouse
Fruit shape of four low-chill peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] cultivars was evaluated in north-central, central, and southwest Florida. During 2005, measurements were taken at all locations for cheek diameter, suture diameter, and tip protrusion. A suture deformation index was calculated (suture diameter/cheek diameter) to determine suture deformation. Fruit had more protruding tips and suture deformation was more pronounced at the southwest location than at the north-central or central locations. Overall, ‘TropicBeauty’ had more protruding tips than the other cultivars. It was concluded that warmer temperatures at the southwest location during fruit development affected fruit shape by increasing the incidence of protruding tips and pronounced sutures.
Todd W. Wert, Jeffrey G. Williamson, Jose X. Chaparro, E. Paul Miller, and Robert E. Rouse
The effect of climate was observed on fruit quality of four low-chill peach cultivars (Flordaprince, Flordaglo, UFGold, and TropicBeauty). The cultivars were evaluated in three locations (north–central, central, and southwest Florida). Soluble solids content (SSC), titratable acidity (TA), SSC:TA ratio, fruit weight, blush, and fruit development period (FDP) were determined. Longer FDPs were observed at the north–central location than at the southwest location. Fruit development and the expression of quality attributes were affected by location during fruit growth with higher color and SSC and shorter FDP occurring under warmer conditions. Within locations, ‘UFGold’ had the shortest FDP except at the southwest location where its chilling requirement may not have been met. At the central and southwest locations, ‘UFGold’ also tended to have lower TA values and higher SSC;TA ratios than the other cultivars.
Jeffrey G. Williamson, Gerard Krewer, Brian E. Maust, and E. Paul Miller
Experiments were conducted in north Florida and south Georgia to determine the effects of H2CN2 sprays on vegetative and reproductive growth of blueberry. In Florida, mature, field-grown `Misty' southern highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum L. hybrid) blueberry plants were sprayed to drip with 0, 10.2, or 20.4 g·L-1 of H2CN2 [hereafter referred to as 0%, 1.0%, and 2.0% (v/v) H2CN2] on 20 Dec. 1996 and 7 Jan. 1997. During the following winter, mature `Misty' southern highbush and `Climax' rabbiteye (V. ashei Reade) plants were sprayed to drip with 0, 7.6, or 15.3 g·L-1 of H2CN2 [hereafter referred to as 0%, 0.75%, and 1.5% (v/v) H2CN2] on 17 Dec. 1997 and 6 Jan. 1998. For all experiments, plants were dormant and leafless, with slightly swollen flower buds, at the time of spray applications. Generally, H2CN2 sprays increased the extent and earliness of vegetative budbreak and canopy establishment and advanced flowering slightly. The number of vegetative budbreaks usually increased linearly with increasing spray concentrations. In Florida, H2CN2 [0.75% to 1.0% (v/v)] sprays increased mean fruit fresh weight and yield, and shortened the fruit development period (FDP) compared to controls. However, H2CN2 sprays ranging in concentration from 1.5% to 2.0% (v/v) resulted in significant flower bud injury and reduced total fruit yield compared to controls. In south Georgia, 27 of 37 field trials conducted between 1991 and 1998 on several rabbiteye and southern highbush cultivars indicated that leaf development was significantly enhanced by H2CN2. H2CN2 shows potential for increasing early fruit maturity, fruit size, and yield of southern highbush and rabbiteye blueberry cultivars with poor leaf development characteristics in low-chill production regions. Chemical name used: hydrogen cyanamide (H2CN2).