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Sharon Morrison, John M. Smagula and Walter Litten

For accelerating the filling in of bare areas in native lowbush blueberry fields or converting new areas to production, micropropagated plantlets rooted after three subcultures outperformed seedlings and rooted softwood cuttings. After 2 years of field growth, they averaged 20.3 rhizomes each of average dry weight 3.5 g, as compared with 5.7 rhizomes of average dry weight 1.1 g for rooted softwood cuttings. After 1 year of field growth, seedlings produced on average 3.3 vs. 0.4 rhizomes from micropropagated plants that had not been subcultured and 0.3 rhizomes from stem cuttings. Apparently, subculturing on cytokinin-rich media induces the juvenile branching characteristic that provides micropropagated plants with the desirable morphologies and growth habits of seedlings. These characteristics favor rhizome production while the benefits of asexual reproduction are retained. The advantage in rhizome production of micropropagation over stem cuttings varied among clones.

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John M. Smagula, Walter Litten and Scott Dunham

In three commercial fields with a history of low leaf P concentrations, triple super phosphate (TSP) (1 P: 0 N), monoammonium phosphate (MAP) (2.1 P: 1 N), and diammonium phosphate (DAP) (1.11 P: 1 N) with P at 67.2 kg·ha-1 were compared to a control in a randomized complete-block design with 12 blocks. In 1995, all fertilizer treatments were comparable in raising soil P concentrations, but MAP and DAP resulted in higher P leaf concentrations compared to the control. DAP was more effective than MAP in raising N leaf concentrations. Leaf concentrations of Mg, B, and Cu were lowered by MAP and DAP but not TSP. Stem density, stem length, flower buds per stem, flower bud density, and yield were raised by DAP. The same treatments were applied in May 1997 and in May 1999 to the same plots in the same fields. In 1997, by the time of tip dieback in the prune year of that cycle, foliar concentration of P and N averaged higher than in the previous cycle, but still were not up to the standard for N. Fruit yield for the second cycle averaged substantially higher for the controls and for all three treatments, most dramatically for the DAP. In 1999, with only two fields available, response to treatments depended on soil N availability. At the field where leaf N was lower in control plots, MAP and DAP were more effective than TSP in raising leaf P.

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Youzhi Chen, John M. Smagula, Walter Litten and Scott Dunham

Twenty stems with four fruit buds were tagged in each of ten lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait.) clones in a commercial field to assess fruit set and fruit size and weight characteristics. The terminal bud produced the fewest blossoms and fruit but fruit set was equal among all buds (65%–70%). Fruit at bud 4 were slightly smaller in diameter and weighed less than those produced at other buds. Clones with buds producing more blossoms per bud tended to produce more fruit per bud (pearson corr. coeff., r = 0.49), but a stronger correlation was found between fruit set and fruit number (r = 0.81).

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Youzhi Chen, John M. Smagula, Walter Litten and Scott Dunham

In a managed field of native Vaccinium angustifolium Ait. clones, the effect of fall foliar sprays of B at 345 g·ha-1 and/or Ca at 3,450 g·ha-1 in remedying tissue deficiency of B varied among 12 clones, as seen in pollen germinability and on individual stems as seen in flower number, fruit set, and number of harvestable berries. With Ca applied alone, increased berry size did not overcome yield reduction due to fewer flowers and berries per stem. Berry diameter and mass correlated better to number of seeds of germinable size than to total number of seeds. Pollen germination averaged 17.4% on stigmata from untreated clones, and all three treatments (B, Ca, B + Ca) increased that average by 8%. More seeds per berry with the B-alone treatment implies more ovules fertilized when B deficiency is remedied. No relation was found between in vitro and in vivo pollen germination.