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Rebecca L. Darnell

Containerized `Climax' and `Beckyblue' rabbiteye blueberry plants (Vaccinium ashei Reade) were exposed to 5 weeks of natural daylengths (i.e. gradually decreasing daylengths from 12 to 11 hr) or shortened daylengths (i.e. gradually decreasing daylengths from 10 to 8 hr) starting October 1. `Beckyblue' initiated twice as many flower buds under short days compared to longer days. The following spring, `Beckyblue' plants exposed to shortened photoperiods the previous fall had a greater percentage of floral budbreak (based on the number of flower buds formed within each treatment) and a shorter, more concentrated bloom period than did plants exposed to longer photoperiods the previous fall. Fresh weight per berry increased following the short fall photoperiod treatment, despite the fact that fruit number was higher. `Climax' did not respond to the photoperiod treatments in any way. Leaf carbon assimilation rates of both cultivars increased under short days, but there was no detectable effect of photoperiod on current carbon partitioning in either cultivar, suggesting that flower bud initiation is not limited by current source leaf assimilate supply under these conditions.

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Rebecca L. Darnell

Containerized `Climax' and `Beckyblue' rabbiteye blueberry plants (Vaccinium ashei Reade) were exposed to 5 weeks of natural daylengths or shortened daylengths starting 30 Sept. `Beckyblue' plants exposed to short daylengths in the fall initiated more flower buds and had a shorter, more concentrated bloom period than did plants exposed to natural fall daylengths. Reproductive development of `Climax' was not influenced by photoperiod treatments. Leaf carbon assimilation of both cultivars increased under short days. Partitioning of translocated 14C-labeled assimilates to stem tissue increased under short photoperiods for `Beckyblue'; however, partitioning patterns in `Climax' were not affected. Increased carbon fixation and increased partitioning of carbon to stem tissue under short days may contribute to the observed effect of short days on enhancing reproductive development in `Beckyblue'.

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Umpika Poonnachit and Rebecca L. Darnell

Vaccinium corymbosum, one of the cultivated blueberry species, is not well-adapted to mineral soils, which are generally marked by high pH, the predominance of NO3-N over NH4-N, and limited iron availability. A wild species, V. arboreum, grows naturally on mineral soils, and thus may be better adapted than V. corymbosum. This adaptation may be related to the ability of V. arboreum to assimilate NO3 and/or iron more efficiently than V. corymbosum. Both species were grown in a hydroponic solution containing 5.0 mM N as (NH4)2SO4 or NaNO3, and buffered to pH 5.5. Nitrate reductase (NR) and iron reductase (FeR) activities were measured. NR activity was higher in V. arboreum compared with V. corymbosum when grown with N03-N, while no difference between species was observed when grown under NH4-N. Activity of FeR was higher in V. arboreum compared with V. corymbosum, and higher under NO3-N compared with NH4-N. After 5 months in hydroponics, Fe was removed from one-half of the solutions. The activity of NRA in both species was higher under Fe-sufficient compared with Fe-limited conditions, but in both cases, activity was higher in V. arboreum compared with V. corymbosum. FeR activity continued to be higher in V. arboreum compared with V. corymbosum, and under NO3 compared with NH4-N. Activity decreased in both species under limited Fe conditions, and there were no interactions between species and Fe. These data indicate that V. arboreum possesses higher NR and FeR activities than V. corymbosum, under both Fe-sufficient and Fe-limited conditions. This may play a role in the better adaptability of V arboreum to mineral soil conditions.

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Kevin R. Kosola* and Rebecca L. Darnell

Cultivated Vaccinium species (e.g. highbush blueberry, Vaccinium corymbosum, or cranberry, V. macrocarpon) commonly require acidic soil (pH 4.5 to 5.5) for optimum growth. Under these conditions, ammonium (NH4 +) is the dominant form of inorganic N. In contrast, V. arboreum, the sparkleberry can tolerate higher-pH mineral soils, where nitrate (NO3 -) is typically the predominant inorganic N form. This tolerance may be related to increased ability to acquire and utilize NO3—N. Measurements of 15NO3 - and 15NH4 + influx kinetics in excised roots of V. arboreum, V. corymbosum, and V. macrocarpon did not support this hypothesis. NO3 - influx kinetics measured from 10 micromolar to 200 micromolar NO3 - were similar among all three species. NO3 - influx was consistently lower than NH4 + influx at all concentrations for all three species.

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Raquel Cano-Medrano and Rebecca L. Darnell

To determine if multiple applications of GA3 would increase size of parthenocarpic fruit, and to assess the interaction between GA3 applications and pollination, `Beckyblue' rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium ashei Reade) flowers were treated with single or multiple applications of GA3 alone or in combination with full or partial pollination. Single or multiple applications of GA3 resulted in similar or increased fruit set compared with pollination, and increased fruit set compared with no pollination. GA3 applications decreased fruit mass and increased the fruit development period in comparison with pollination alone. Multiple, late applications of GA3 were ineffective in overcoming these effects. Partial (nonsaturating) pollination resulted in an average fruit set of 60%, while set following GA3 treatment in combination with full or partial pollination averaged 85%. Fruit mass was greater in the full pollination ±GA3 treatments than in all other treatments. The number of large seeds and seed mass per fruit were greatest in the full pollination treatment, and were significantly decreased by all treatments in which GA3 and/or partial pollination were used; however, there were no concomitant effects of GA3 in delaying the fruit development period. Our results indicate that under optimal pollination conditions, no detrimental effects of GA3 applications on fruit set, fruit size, or fruit development period in blueberry are to be expected, even though GA3 reduces seed number and seed mass. Furthermore, GA3 applications appear to be beneficial in increasing fruit set under suboptimal pollination conditions, although smaller fruit are to be expected under such conditions. Chemical name used: gibberellic acid (GA3).

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Donald J. Merhaut and Rebecca L. Darnell

Commercial blueberry production is limited primarily to soils where ammonium, rather than nitrate, is the predominant N form. However, Vaccinium arboreum, a species native to northern Florida, often is found growing in soils where nitrate is the major N form. This species may serve as a breeding source or rootstock for commercial blueberries, expanding the potential soil types that may be used for blueberry cultivation. In our study, in vivo nitrate reductase activity (NRA) was measured in roots and leaves of 2-year-old seedlings of V. arboreum and a commercial cultivar, V. corymbosum `Sharpblue'. Plants were grown hydroponically in sand culture and fertilized with a modified Hoagland's solution containing N as either ammonium, ammonium nitrate, or nitrate. Vaccinium arboreum averaged nitrite at 200, 60, and 20 nmol/g fresh weight per h for nitrate, ammonium nitrate, and ammonium fertilized plants, respectively. `Sharpblue' root NRA was significantly lower, averaging nitrite 50, 38, and 8 nmol/g fresh weight per h for nitrate, ammonium nitrate, and ammonium fertilized plants, respectively. NRA was much lower in leaves than roots of V. arboreum, averaging nitrite at ≈15 nmol nmol/g fresh weight per h across N treatments. No NRA was detected in the leaves of `Sharpblue', regardless of N treatment. These data suggest that V. arboreum may be used as a rootstock or breeding source to expand blueberry production into soil types that are higher in nitrate than the soils typically used for blueberry production.

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Rebecca L. Darnell and Steven A. Hiss

Most Vaccinium species have narrow soil adaptation and are limited to soils that have low pH, high available iron (Fe), and nitrogen (N) primarily in the ammonium (NH4+) form. Vaccinium arboreum Marsh. is a wild species that can tolerate a wider range of soil conditions, including higher pH and nitrate (NO3-) as the predominant N form. This wider soil adaptation may be related to the ability of V. arboreum to acquire Fe and NO3- more efficiently than cultivated Vaccinium species, such as V. corymbosum L. interspecific hybrid (southern highbush). Nitrate and Fe uptake, and nitrate reductase (NR) and ferric chelate reductase (FCR) activities were compared in these two species grown hydroponically in either 1.0 or 5.0 mm NO3-. Nitrate uptake rate (on a whole-plant and FW basis) and root NR activity were significantly greater in V. arboreum compared with V. corymbosum. Iron uptake on a FW basis was also greater in V. arboreum, and was correlated with higher root FCR activity than was found in V. corymbosum. Increased Fe and NO3- uptake/assimilation in V. arboreum were reflected in increased organ and whole-plant dry weights compared with V. corymbosum. Vaccinium arboreum appears to be more efficient in acquiring and assimilating NO3- and Fe than is the cultivated species, V. corymbosum. This may partially explain the wider soil adaptation of V. arboreum.

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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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Raguel Cano—M and Rebecca L. Darnell

The effects of different GA3 concentrations and application times on fruit set, fruit development period, and fruit quality in rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium ashei Reade) were studied. Flower clusters were sprayed with 100 or 250 ppm GA3 at 90% full bloom and again 7 days later, or with 125 ppm GA3 at 90% full bloom and again 7, 21, and 42 days later, under greenhouse conditions. Fruit set was monitored every 10 days and fruit weight, fruit development period, soluble solids, and titratable acidity were measured at harvest.

Fruit set in GA3 treatments averaged 69 to 76% compared to an average of 43% for the pollinated control. Weight of GA3 treated berries averaged 1.2, g while that of pollinated berries averaged 2.0 g. However, calculated total yield was greater for the GA3 treatments compared to the pollinated control, averaging 244 and 206 g/treatment, respectively. GA3 increased the fruit development period by 2 to 11 days, depending on the treatment. Soluble solids and titratable acidity were not affected by any treatment.

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Donald J. Merhaut and Rebecca L. Darnell

The influence of stage of vegetative flush development on NH4NO3-N uptake and carbon and nitrogen partitioning was evaluated in two-year-old 'Climax' rabbiteye blueberries using dual labeling with 15N and14C. Plants were grown in sand and fertilized with a modified Hoagland's solution. Plants were pruned to induce three stages of vegetative development: flush initiation, mid -flush, and flush maturity.

Total nitrogen uptake did not differ for the different stages of growth. However, N allocation to leaves was greatest at mid-flush, possibly due to higher transpiration rates of developing leaves. Total 14C partitioning to roots was reduced at mid-flush, compared to the other growth stages, reflecting the increased demand for carbon by growing shoots. Although less carbon was allocated to roots at mid-flush,this did not limit N uptake.