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J.G. Williamson

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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J.G. Williamson and R.L. Darnell

Six-year-old, field-grown `Beckyblue' and `Bonita' rabbiteye blueberries were sprayed to drip with Pro-Gibb (250 ppm GA3, 0.1% surfactant, pH 3.1). Two spray applications were made. The first spray was applied at 80-90% full bloom followed by a second spray 10 days later. Fruit were harvested at five dates, from 21 May until 1 July, 1992. GA3 increased fruit set and doubled total fruit yield for both cultivars compared to the control. Fruit yield was greater for the GA3 treatment than for the control at harvest dates 3 through 5 for 'Beckyblue', and dates 4 and 5 for 'Bonita'. Average berry weight for both cultivars and for both treatments declined as the season progressed. For `Beckyblue', average berry weight did not differ between treatments at most harvest dates. For 'Bonita', average berryweight was less for the GA3 treatment than for the control at harvest dates 3 through 5. GA3 increased yield of rabbiteye blueberry with little detrimental effect on fruit size. However, results from Georgia suggest that greater positive effects on fruit set should be possible.

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B.E. Maust and J.G. Williamson

Experiments were conducted with `Hamlin' orange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osb.] budded on Cleopatra mandarin (Citrus reticulata Blanco) or Carrizo citrange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osb. × Poncirus trifoliata (L.) Raf.] seedling rootstocks to determine minimum container solution N concentrations required for optimum growth and fertilizer uptake efficiency at various growth stages. Plants were fertigated daily with 1 liter of N solution at either 0, 12.5, 25, 50, 100, or 200 mg·liter-1 from NH4NO3 or 0, 3.13, 6.25, 12.5, 25, or 50 mg·liter-1 from NH4NO3 dissolved in a complete nutrient solution, respectively. Percentage of N in the mature plant tissues increased as N concentration in the medium solution increased. Shoot length and leaf area increased as N concentrations increased up to a critical concentration of 15 to 19 mg·liter-1. The critical N concentration for root, shoot, and total plant dry weight was ≈18 mg·liter-1 for `Hamlin'-Cleopatra mandarin nursery plants and 15 mg·liter-1 for `Hamlin'-Carrizo nursery plants. The critical N concentration for relative total plant dry weight accumulation (percentage) for the two experiments was 16.8 mg·liter-1. In a separate experiment, plants were given labeled fertilizer N (FN) (15NH4 15NO3) at one of five growth stages: A) in the middle of rapid shoot extension of the third flush, B) immediately following the cessation of the third flush shoot extension but during leaf expansion, C) immediately following leaf expansion, D) before the fourth flush, or E) in the middle of rapid shoot extension of the fourth flush. Labeled FN recovery increased during rapid shoot extension of the fourth scion flush compared to the other labeling periods. FN uptake per gram of total plant dry weight was greatest during rapid shoot extension (A and E) and lowest during the intermediate labeling periods (B-D). FN supplied 21% to 22% of the N required for new growth during rapid shoot extension.

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J.G. Williamson and R.L. Darnell

Mature `Sharpblue' southern highbush and `Beckyblue' rabbiteye blueberry plants were mechanically pruned at two heights on three dates after fruit harvest during the 1994 growing season. No pruning had occurred for at least 3 years (`Sharpblue') or 5 years (`Beckyblue') before initiating experiment. Pruning heights were 45 and 85 cm and nonpruned for `Sharpblue' and 45 and 95 cm and nonpruned for `Beckyblue'. Pruning dates were 3, 6, and 9 weeks after peak harvest for each cultivar. Regrowth was measured in Mar. 1995 before initiation of spring growth. Pruning `Sharpblue' bushes to 45 cm increased new shoot number and mean and total shoot length but decreased fruit yield compared to the 90-cm pruning treatment. No difference in yield occurred between the 90-cm pruning treatment and the nonpruned control. As time between fruit harvest and pruning increased, new shoot number, mean and total shoot length, plant height, canopy volume, and fruit yield decreased. There was no difference in yield between the earliest pruning treatment and the control. For `Beckyblue', mean and total shoot length of regrowth and flower bud density decreased with increasing time from harvest to pruning. Yield data for `Beckyblue' were not collected in 1995 because of gall midge infestation.

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J.G. Williamson and E.P. Miller

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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J.G. Williamson and B.E. Maust

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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J.G. Williamson and R.L. Darnell

Two-year-old, container-grown `Misty' southern highbush blueberry plants were sprayed to drip with two concentrations of hydrogen cyanamide (HCN) (20.4 g·L–1 and 10.2 g·L–1) after exposure to 0, 150, or 300 hr of continuous chilling at 5.6°C. All plants were sprayed immediately after chilling and placed in a greenhouse for several weeks. The plants were moved outdoors during flowering to increase cross-pollination from nearby `Sharpblue' blueberry plants. HCN sprays killed some of the more advanced flower buds on shoot terminals and on small-diameter wood from the previous spring growth flush. Significantly greater flower bud mortality occurred for the 20.4 g·L–1 HCN sprays than for the 10.2 g·L–1 sprays. Flower buds subjected to 0 hr of chilling were more susceptible to spray burn than flower buds receiving 150 or 300 hr of chilling. Very little flower bud death occurred with the 10.2 g·L–1 HCN rate on plants receiving 300 hr of chilling. Vegetative budbreak was advanced for both HCN treatments compared to controls, regardless of chilling treatment. HCN-treated plants were heavily foliated at full bloom, while non-treated plants had very few to no leaves during bloom. HCN may be useful for stimulating vegetative growth in some southern highbush blueberry cultivars that suffer from poor foliation during flowering and fruit set.

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J.G. Williamson and B.E. Maust

Two experiments were conducted to determine the effects of rootstock shoot defoliation or shading on growth during the first two scion flushes of budded, containerized, citrus nursery trees. Both experiments were conducted in a greenhouse with Cleopatra mandarin (Citrus reticulata Blanco) and Swingle citrumelo [C. paradisi (L.) Osb. × Poncirus trifoliata (L.) Raf.] seedlings budded with `Hamlin' orange [C. sinensis (L.) Osb.]. Scion buds were forced by cutting off the rootstock shoots above the bud union or by bending the rootstock shoots and tying them to the base of the plants (bending). In one experiment, shoots from both rootstocks that were forced by bending received one of four defoliation treatments: treatments were 0%, 40%, 60%, or 85% (based on leaf area) defoliation for Cleopatra and 0%, 30%, 60%, or 100% defoliation for Swingle. In the second experiment, rootstock shoots of plants forced by bending were subjected to a maximum photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) of 820, 225, 90, or 30 μmol·m–2·s–1. Growth of Cleopatra plants declined linearly with increasing levels of rootstock shoot defoliation. When rootstock shoot defoliation was ≤40%, whole-plant (minus rootstock shoot) dry weights were higher for plants forced by bending than for those forced by cutting off rootstock shoots. For Swingle, most growth responses to rootstock shoot defoliation were curvilinear. Higher levels of rootstock shoot defoliation resulted in less growth than lower defoliation levels. Low PPF reduced whole-plant (minus rootstock shoot) and root dry weights for both rootstocks compared to high PPF. For Cleopatra, whole-plant and scion dry weights were highest at the highest PPF. For Swingle, whole-plant and scion dry weights were highest at 225 μmol·m–2·s–1. For both rootstocks, plants forced by bending had higher dry weights at 820 and 225 μmol·m–2·s–1 than plants forced by cutting off the rootstock shoots. For Swingle, most of the reduction in scion growth from rootstock shoot defoliation occurred during the first scion flush. Our results suggest that recently produced rootstock shoot photosynthates are the primary source of greater plant growth achieved by bending compared to cutting off rootstock shoots.

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J.G. Williamson and E.P. Miller

Field-grown `Misty', `Star', and `Southmoon' southern highbush, and `Climax' rabbiteye blueberry plants were sprayed to drip with 0, 7.7 and 15.4 g·L–1 concentrations of hydrogen cyanamide in north central Florida on 17 Dec. 1997 and 6 Jan. 1998. Plants were dormant with slightly swollen flower buds (stage 2) at the times of applications. The extent and earliness of vegetative budbreak were increased by both hydrogen cyanamide sprays. Hydrogen cyanamide also increased mean fruit fresh weights and reduced fruit development periods for `Misty', `Southmoon' and `Climax' but not for `Star'. Yield response to hydrogen cyanamide was variable among cultivars. Fruit yields of `Misty' and `Climax' increased slightly by 7.7 g·L–1 sprays and decreased significantly by 15.4 g·L–1 sprays. In that case, increased fruit yields appeared to be the result of greater mean fruit fresh weights while reduced yields resulted from significant flower bud thinning that occurred at the highest spray concentration. Both hydrogen cyanamide spray concentrations increased fruit yield for `Southmoon' and decreased fruit yield for `Star' when compared to controls. Spray date had no effect on fruit yield and little effect on fruit development period. Hydrogen cyanamide has potential for increasing fruit quality and earliness of some blueberry cultivars that are grown in the lower southeastern United States.

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J.G. Williamson and E.P. Miller

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.