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  • Author or Editor: Mark K. Ehlenfeldt x
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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The primary gene pool of Vaccinium species used by blueberry breeders has traditionally been the North American Vaccinium species of section Cyanococcus. Blueberries in commercial production represent three primary Vaccinium species and two ploidy levels. Significant use has been made of the secondary gene pool of Vaccinium, especially in the development of southern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium ×corymbosum) cultivars. Section Hemimyrtillus species are distantly related and are best considered part of the tertiary gene pool of Vaccinium. Vaccinium padifolium, a member of section Hemimyrtillus and native to the Madeira Islands, Portugal, has features of notable value to conventional blueberry development, among these: upright structure, strong growth, abundant flowering and fruiting, good self-fertility, inflorescence structure suited to mechanical harvesting, and indeterminate/repeat flowering. Our objective was to incorporate germplasm from this section into cultivated materials and transfer the desirable traits these species possess for commercial production. We used V. padifolium as a female in crosses with V. corymbosum and generated two highly fertile hybrids. These hybrids are intermediate in morphology, phonological, and their hybridity has been confirmed through DNA testing. These hybrids were used in further crosses to a variety of section Cyanococcus selections and have generated numerous second-generation hybrids. We have also determined by flow cytometry the ploidy levels of the hybrids and several previously unevaluated section Hemimyrtillus species.

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G-435 and ARS 96–138 are two pink-fruited blueberry selections developed by the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. G-435, a tetraploid, is predominantly Vaccinium corymbosum L. (highbush blueberry) with a mixture of other Vaccinium species germplasm in its ancestry. It has been evaluated in New Jersey and Michigan. ARS 96–138 is a hexaploid that is half V. ashei Reade (rabbiteye blueberry) and half synthetically derived, hexaploid, highbush-type germplasm. It has been evaluated in New Jersey and Oregon. ARS 96–138 was partially derived from a pink-fruited sibling of G-435; thus, the two selections are related, although they possess different ploidy levels. They are released as germplasm for further evaluation, breeding, and possible commercialization. They represent a novel fruit color in blueberry that is of interest to the landscape nursery business.

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