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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.

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Keith T. Birkhold and Rebecca L. Darnell

The relative contribution of storage and currently assimilated N to reproductive and vegetative growth of `Bonita' and `Climax' rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium ashei Reade) was estimated immediately before and during the fruit development period. Total and storage N decreased in roots and shoots of both cultivars during dormancy and early fruit development. The principle N storage form appeared to be protein, as indicated by a significant decline in total shoot and root protein during this same period. Storage N from roots and shoots in both cultivars was remobilized to flowers and/or fruit and new vegetative growth. At anthesis, 90% of the total N present in reproductive organs was estimated to come from storage N. By fruit maturity, ≈ 50% of the accumulated N was derived from storage pools. Storage N contributed 90% of the total N in developing vegetative growth of `Bonita' at leaf budbreak, which is concomitant with floral budbreak for this cultivar. Developing vegetative growth of `Climax' at leaf budbreak, which occurs ≈ 4 weeks after floral budbreak, derived ≈ 65% of its total N from storage and 35% from currently assimilated N. By fruit maturity, contribution of storage N to new vegetative growth had decreased to ≈ 20% in both cultivars, indicating that currently assimilated N became the principal N supply as vegetative growth became more established. Differences in timing of floral and vegetative budbreak between the two cultivars did not appear to affect allocation of either storage or currently assimilated N to new vegetative or reproductive growth.

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Keith T. Birkhold, Karen E. Koch and Rebecca L. Darnell

Carbon dioxide exchange, dry weight, C, and N content of `Bonita' and `Climax' blueberry (Vaccinium ashei Reade) fruit were measured from anthesis through fruit ripening to quantify developmental changes in amounts of imported C and N required for fruit development. Net photosynthesis occurred in fruit of both rabbiteye cultivars from petal fall through color break. During this time, fruit net photosynthesis declined from 16 μmol CO2/g fresh weight (FW) per hour for `Bonita' and 22 μmol CO2/g FW per hour for `Climax' to 0.2 μmol CO2/g FW per hour for both. Dark respiration for both cultivars declined following petal fall from 16 μmol CO2/g FW per hour to 3 μmol CO2/g FW per hour before increasing at fruit ripening to 9 μmol CO2/g FW per hour. Fruit C content was constant at 0.43 mg C/mg dry weight (DW) throughout development, while N content declined from 0.05 mg N/mg DW at petal fall to 0.01 mg N/mg DW at ripeness. DW accumulation and respiration accounted for 63% and 37%, respectively, of the total C requirement for fruit development. Fruit photosynthesis was estimated to contribute 15% of the total C required for fruit development in both cultivars; however, fruit photosynthesis supplied 50% of the C required during the first 10 days after bloom and 85% during the 5 days after petal fall. This large, early contribution of C from fruit photosynthesis may aid in the establishment of fruit until the current season's vegetative growth can supplement plant carbohydrate reserves in providing C for fruit development.