‘Flicker’ is a southern highbush blueberry (SHB, Vaccinium corymbosum) cultivar frequently selected by growers in Central and South Florida. In 2014, several growers in Central Florida experienced issues with anthracnose stem lesions and twig dieback on ‘Flicker’, resulting in a reduction in new plantings and the removal of many existing plantings. The objective of this study was to determine the level of anthracnose susceptibility of certain commercially available SHB cultivars, which information can be used to limit further use of susceptible cultivars in the University of Florida blueberry breeding program. The screening was performed using a spray inoculation of a virulent Colletotrichum gloeosporioides isolate onto whole V. corymbosum plants, followed by measurement of incidence and severity of disease over time. In repeated experiments, ‘Flicker’ and two other cultivars had a significantly higher mean number of lesions and area under the disease progress curve (AUDPC) than any other tested cultivar, and in both experiments, the observed lesions were similar in many respects to those previously reported on northern highbush blueberry (also V. corymbosum). Although the results of these experiments may ultimately indicate that Flicker has a unique genetic susceptibility to this form of anthracnose among SHB cultivars commercially grown in Florida, screening of additional cultivars must be performed for confirmation.
Douglas A. Phillips, Philip F. Harmon, James W. Olmstead, Natalia A. Peres, and Patricio R. Munoz
Rebecca L. Darnell, Jeffrey G. Williamson, Deanna C. Bayo, and Philip F. Harmon
Vaccinium arboreum Marsh is a small tree adapted to low-organic matter soils and is one of the few ericaceous species that tolerates soil pH greater than 6.0. It has a deep root system and is more drought tolerant than cultivated blueberry. The use of V. arboreum as a rootstock for commercial blueberry production has been studied previously in young blueberry plantings. The objective of the current study was to expand on earlier work and evaluate growth, productivity, and tolerance to bacterial leaf scorch (Xylella fastidiosa) in established plantings of own-rooted vs. grafted southern highbush blueberry (SHB). Two field plantings of grafted and own-rooted ‘Meadowlark’ and ‘Farthing’ SHB were established in May 2011: one at the University of Florida–Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF-IFAS) Plant Science Research and Education Unit in Citra, FL, and the other at a commercial blueberry farm in Archer, FL. At both sites, four rootstock–scion combinations were grown in either pine bark-amended or nonamended soil. Canopy volume was greater in grafted compared with own-rooted ‘Meadowlark’ at both locations throughout the 4 years of the study (2015–18), whereas canopy volume in ‘Farthing’ was not consistently different. For both cultivars and both locations, canopy volume was greater on amended compared with nonamended soil. Although canopy growth was not consistently increased in the grafted compared with own-rooted plants, yield was greater in grafted plants of both cultivars at both locations. Cumulative yield over the 4 years was similar between grafted plants grown on both amended and nonamended soil, and was significantly greater than yield of own-rooted plants on nonamended soil, suggesting the use of this rootstock may decrease the requirement for pine bark amendment. In general, grafted plants produced larger berries, with no negative impacts on fruit soluble solids, titratable acidity, or firmness. ‘Meadowlark’—an SHB cultivar that exhibits high sensitivity to bacterial leaf scorch—displayed decreased development of bacterial leaf scorch symptoms when grafted onto V. arboreum compared with own-rooted plants. These results indicate the potential benefits of grafting SHB onto V. arboreum rootstock, particularly under marginal soil conditions. However, a complete economic analysis that also takes into account any differences in longevity between the two systems must be done to determine whether the benefits of using grafting are feasible financially for the grower.
Silvia R. Marino, Jeffrey G. Williamson, James W. Olmstead, and Philip F. Harmon
Field performance of southern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L. interspecific hybrids) cultivars Emerald, Jewel, and Primadonna derived from softwood cuttings (SW) and tissue culture (TC) was evaluated in Citra and Haines City, FL, in 2010–12. Both fields were planted in Apr. 2010 on sandy soil amended with pine bark. Plant height and width were recorded at both locations, from which plant canopy volume was calculated. Additionally, whole plants were harvested at planting and after the first growing season, after the first fruit harvest, and after the second growing season. Average plant height and width, number of major canes, and total shoot number were determined at each sampling date. Dry weights for roots, crowns, canes, shoots, and leaves were obtained. Although propagation method affected plant canopy volume during the first season, no effects were observed by the end of the second growing season. At planting and after the first and second growing seasons, TC plants of the three cultivars had more major canes. Total shoot number per plant was greater for TC ‘Jewel’ at all dates but ‘Emerald’ TC plants had more shoots only at planting and after the first growing and harvest seasons. Tissue culture resulted in increased plant dry weights of ‘Jewel’ and ‘Emerald’ after the first and second growing seasons. There were no significant differences in total number of shoots or plant dry weight between TC and SW-derived ‘Primadonna’ plants at any point during the study.
Dustin P. Meador, Paul R. Fisher, Philip F. Harmon, Natalia A. Peres, Max Teplitski, and Charles L. Guy
The objective was to analyze the physical, chemical, and biological water quality in horticulture irrigation systems in 24 ornamental plant greenhouses and nurseries in the United States. At each greenhouse or nursery, water was collected from up to five points (“Sample Types”) which included 1) “Source” from municipal or private well supplies, 2) “Tank” from enclosed storage containers, 3) “Subirrigation” from water applied to crops in ebb-and-flood systems, 4) “Furthest Outlet” that were irrigation emitters most distant from the Source, and 5) “Catchment Basin” from open outdoor retention areas. On average, Source water had the highest physical and microbial quality of Sample Types including the highest ultraviolet (UV) light transmission at 86%, lowest total suspended solids (TSS) at 3.1 mg·L−1, and lowest density of aerobic bacteria with 1108 cfu/mL of water. Average quality of recycled water from Subirrigation or Catchment Basins did not meet recommended levels for horticultural irrigation water for UV transmission (68% to 72% compared with recommended 75%), microbial counts (>100,000 cfu/mL compared with recommended <10,000 cfu/mL), and chemical oxygen demand (COD) (48.2 to 61.3 mg·L−1 compared with recommended <30 mg·L−1). Irrigation water stored in Tanks or applied at Furthest Outlets had lower physical and biological water quality compared with Source water. Level of aerobic bacteria counts highlighted a risk of clogged microirrigation emitters from microbial contaminants, with highest bacteria levels in recirculated irrigation water. The physical, chemical, and microbial water quality results indicate a need for more effective water treatment to improve biological water quality, particularly with recirculated irrigation.
Joyce L. Merritt, Ellen Dickstein, Robert S. Johnson, Michael Ward, Robert J. Balaam, Carrie L. Harmon, Philip F. Harmon, G. Shad Ali, Aaron J. Palmateer, Timothy Schubert, and Ariena H.C. van Bruggen
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the U.S.-Canadian Greenhouse Certification Program (USGCP) that was initiated in 1998. A survey consisting of 34 questions was designed and 43 out of ≈48 nurseries in Florida participating in the USGCP were visited. Based on the answers to the questionnaire, most of the nurseries were in compliance with the majority of USGCP requirements, growers were satisfied with the program, and there was an economic benefit to participating in the program. The main problems identified were the ambiguous wording of some of the requirements and the impracticality of keeping imported and domestic plants completely segregated. Moreover, many of the respondents did not have a written description of a pest management plan. Chi square statistical analysis showed that there was almost no difference between nursery groups in their responses to the majority of the survey questions, indicating that the USGCP is a successful program for both large and small nurseries. This quantitative assessment of the USGCP is the first assessment conducted for this program and discussed in a peer-reviewed publication.