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- Author or Editor: Mark Ehlenfeldt x
Inbreeding coefficients were calculated for highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) cultivars based on a tetrasomic inheritance model. This model yielded lower inbreeding coefficients than previous calculations based on a disomic tetraploid inheritance model. Recent trends in breeding have resulted in significant use of V. darrowi Camp as a source of low-chilling germplasm for use in the southern United States. There is also a trend toward increased inbreeding in several crosses from which recently released cultivars have been derived. Increased inbreeding coefficients do not represent a detrimental situation in blueberry per se.
In recent years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has generated V. ashei and V. constablaei derivatives to provide late-flowering, earlyripening rabbiteye germplasm for the southern U.S.; however, this germplasm has also performed well in New Jersey, and could potentially provide northern-adapted rabbiteye types. When combined, these germplasms complement each other in many respects. Crosses with varying percentages of V. constablaei germplasm ranging from 100% to 0%, in 25% increments, were evaluated for mid-winter cold-hardiness using a detached twig assay. Hybrids with 50% or more V. constablaei germplasm were hardy to –25° C or lower. Further backcrosses to V. ashei resulted in dramatic segregation for hardiness, but still yielded some progeny as hardy as typical northern highbush. Assays of rabbiteye cultivars have been recently completed to enhance the ability to generate cold-hardy hybrids. Recombination and selection have begun to yield hybrids improved for critical commercial characteristics, and further rapid progress is expected.
Blueberry cultivars were treated with either soil drenches or foliar applications of paclobutrazol. Soil drenches of 25 mg·L-1 inhibited shoot elongation and stimulated earlier and greater flower bud production on `Bluetta', `Bluecrop', and `Jersey'. The treatments increased bud numbers 359% to 797%, and stimulated compound bud formation, while reducing formation of vegetative buds. This resulted in overcropping and reduced fruit size. Foliar applications at concentrations of 5, 10, 50, and 100 mg·L-1 increased bud set. Treatments did not significantly alter time to 50% flowering in `Bluecrop' or `Duke', but hastened flowering up to 5 days in `Blueray' at 200 ppm. Fruit ripening was significantly delayed at 100 and 200 ppm in `Bluecrop' due to overcropping, but no delays were observed in `Blueray' or `Duke'. Plant size and vigor appeared to be a determining factor in plant response. Chemical name used: PP333 or (2RS,3RS)-l(4-chlorophenyl)-4,4-dimethyl-2-(l,2,4-triazol-1-yl)pentan-3-ol (paclobutrazol).
Self- and cross-fertility was evaluated in the highbush blueberry cultivars Bluegold, Duke, Legacy, Nelson, Sierra, Sunrise, and Toro, all released since 1987, by comparing them to standards of `Bluecrop' and `Rubel'. Percent fruit set increased with cross-pollination in all cultivars except `Bluecrop', which decreased by 13%. The average increase in the recently released cultivars was 43%. Fruit weight also increased in cross-pollinations for all cultivars except `Rubel', which showed a decrease of 2%. Average increase in fruit weight on cross-pollination in the recently released cultivars was 27%. Fruit set and fruit weight measurements suggest that `Duke', `Legacy', and `Nelson' could perform well in solid stands, but `Sierra' and `Toro' are more likely to need cross-pollination for best yields. Investigations were also made on a group of 10 cultivars, to evaluate whether ripening time of the pollen source cultivar had any effect on the ripening time of the fruiting parent. No single pollen source had consistent general effects on ripening, although specific combinations of females and males appeared to either hasten or delay ripening. The largest deviations were seen in delays of ripening, suggesting that poor pollination may have been the greatest factor contributing to the observed variation in ripening times.
Self- and cross-fertility were evaluated in the highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) cultivars Bluegold, Duke, Legacy, Nelson, Sierra, Sunrise, and Toro, all of which have been released since 1985, by comparing them with `Bluecrop' and `Rubel', which were used as standards. Cross-pollination increased fruit set in all cultivars except `Bluecrop', in which set was reduced 13%. The average increase among recently released cultivars was 43%. Cross-pollination also increased fruit weight for all cultivars except `Rubel'. Average increase in fruit weight with cross-pollination of the recently released cultivars was 27%. Fruit set and fruit weight measurements suggest that `Duke', `Legacy', and `Nelson' would perform satisfactorily in solid stands, and that `Sierra' and `Toro' probably need cross-pollination for maximum yields.
Vaccinium meridionale (section Pyxothamnus), a tetraploid species native to higher altitude locations in Jamaica, Colombia, and Venezuela, is of considerable interest to blueberry breeders for its profuse, concentrated flowering and monopodial plant structure, both of which may be useful in breeding for mechanical harvest. In this study, tetraploid V. meridionale was successfully hybridized as a male with 4x V. corymbosum (section Cyanococcus, highbush blueberry). The first-generation hybrids with highbush blueberry selections were intermediate in morphology and notably vigorous. The 4x F1 hybrids displayed variable branching structure, dormancy, prolificacy, fruit wax, etc.; however, most appear to be deciduous to semi-evergreen, with small, dark-colored fruit. The F1 hybrids displayed good fertility as females in backcrosses to 4x highbush and these crosses have produced numerous offspring morphologically indistinguishable from 4x highbush at the seedling stage. Evaluations of male fertility found variation for pollen production and quality but, significantly, found some clones with very good shed, high stainability, and almost complete tetrad production. The fertility suggests that these hybrids, despite being derived from intersectional crosses, might be conventionally used without significant difficulty. These hybrids also have potential value for the nascent V. meridionale breeding efforts occurring in Colombia, South America.
Precocious varieties of highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) may overcrop during the first few seasons in the fruiting field, adversely affecting plant establishment. Reducing or preventing bloom in the nursery and during establishment would be beneficial in preventing early cropping and reducing the risk of infection by pollenborne viruses. We investigated the efficacy of foliar applications of GA4+7 for suppressing flower bud initiation in blueberry. One-year-old rooted cuttings of ‘Bluecrop’ were obtained from a commercial nursery and established in 11-L pots at the Philip E. Marucci Blueberry and Cranberry Research Center, Chatsworth, N.J. Three separate experiments were conducted over three seasons with ‘Bluecrop’ (and ‘Duke’ in 2005) highbush blueberry where foliar applications of GA4+7 were made at concentrations ranging from 50 to 400 mg·L−1 a.i., with timing treatments ranging from 7 July to 15 Sept., with 10 replicate plants per treatment. Floral and vegetative buds were counted the following spring. In the first study, the greatest degree of flower bud suppression resulted from applications at 400 mg·L−1 repeated weekly from 7 July to 1 Sept. However, these treatments also reduced total vegetative bud number and plant height. In the two subsequent studies, the largest treatment effect resulted from three weekly applications in late August and early September, where flower bud numbers were suppressed by 70% to 85% for ‘Bluecrop’ and 95% for ‘Duke’ while total vegetative growth was unaffected.