organic fertilizers on soil and plant nutrients has not been reported in blueberry. The objectives of this research trial were to evaluate the impact of planting method, cultivar, mulch type, and fertilizer source and rate on plant growth, yield, and fruit
Cultivars of the economically important rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium ashei Reade) were differentiated at the DNA level using the technique of randomly amplified polymorphic DNA. Single decanucleotide primers of arbitrary sequence were used to amplify genomic DNA by the polymerase chain reaction. All cultivars tested exhibited a unique set of collective amplified fragments of distinct molecular weight. A blind fingerprinting experiment resulted in identification of unknown samples without ambiguity. We also clarified the genetic identity of two wild selections of rabbiteye blueberry, `Ethel' and `Satilla', which have been maintained as two different selections, hut are considered by some blueberry breeders to be of the same genetic constitution. The technique also verified the probable identity of two cultivars in a commercial blueberry field by comparing their amplified DNA patterns with those of standard cultivars. No variation was observed between the amplification profiles of `Brightwell' and its presumed sport. A cultivar key based on 11 markers amplified by four primers is presented.
Fruit set of rabbiteye blueberries (Vaccinium ashei Reade) can be pollen-limited under certain conditions. The objective of this study was to determine production, release, and viability of pollen, as well as pollen-ovule ratios in the rabbiteye blueberry cultivars Austin, Brightwell, Climax, and Tifblue. In vitro tetrad germination varied among genotypes, although, values were high (≥80%) in all cultivars. Pollen viability does not seem to contribute to reproductive failure in the cultivars studied. Total pollen production per flower averaged 8434 tetrads across all cultivars. On a per ovule basis, pollen production was very low relative to other xenogamous species. The low pollen-ovule ratio of rabbiteye blueberry (≈400) may be an indicator of the high efficiency of its pollen dispensing mechanism. Total pollen production varied among cultivars. Furthermore, a significant difference in pollen release was found between two cultivars with similar total pollen production per flower. The possible mechanism regulating pollen release in these cultivars is discussed.
Sixteen cultivars of blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) were field screened for resistance to the blueberry aphid Illinoia pepperi (McGillivary), the vector of blueberry shoestring virus. Significant differences were observed with ‘Bluejay’, ‘Northland’, ‘Bluetta’ and ‘Bluehaven’ supporting the lowest numbers, while ‘Spartan’, ‘Darrow’, ‘Lateblue’, ‘Coville’ and ‘Jersey’ carried the highest numbers. There was no significant correlation between aphid number and new shoot number, percentage of shoots with new growth, length of new growth, leaf length or leaf width. Half of the aphids were found in the lower 1/3 of the bushes.
Late spring frosts are a major concern to blueberry growers in the southeastern United States. Cold hardiness of flower buds (stages 4 to 6) was evaluated in three southern highbush blueberry cultivars (`Cooper', `O'Neal', and `Gulfcoast'). Differential thermal analysis (DTA) and tissue browning tests revealed that the critical temperature and ovary damage occurred at –11C in `Cooper', –12C in `O'Neal', and –13C in `Gulfcoast'.
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.
‘Southland’ flowers were significantly more tolerant to frost than 4 other cultivars of rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium ashei Reade). Reduced fruit set from flowers with damaged corollas could not be attributed to lack of pollination but probably was caused by freeze damage to pistils.
Stem diseases of blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) can cause significant crop loss as well as loss of entire bushes. Stem diseases are also more difficult to control with fungicides than foliar or fruit diseases. A screening program was initiated to test blueberry cultivars for resistance to two pathogenic fungi: botryosphaeria stem blight and phomopsis twig blight. An attached stem assay was developed to compare the host response with both fungi. The relative resistance of 50 blueberry cultivars was assessed using stem lesion lengths, analyzed on a log scale, taken at 4 weeks postinoculation. For Botryosphaeria stem blight, mean lesion length ranged from about 10 mm in resistant cultivars to about 140 mm in susceptible cultivars. The half-high cultivars Northsky, Northblue, and Chippewa, and the lowbush cultivar Putte were among the most resistant. Phomopsis twig blight lesions ranged in mean length from about 18 to 98 mm. Similar to results for Botryosphaeria stem blight, resistance was limited to half-high (`Northsky' and `Chippewa') and lowbush (`Blomidon', `Chignecto', and `Cumberland') cultivars. Individual cultivars resistant to one pathogen were not necessarily resistant to the other; although, overall, the resistances were correlated. Approximate 95% confidence intervals were established for all cultivars to predict mean performance across years. The cultivars tested varied in resistance, but the largest single factor affecting lesion length was the fungal isolate used for inoculations. These data enable us to identify cultivars resistant to both diseases that can be used for planting in problem areas, as well as selection of parental material for breeding cultivars with improved resistance.
Flower bud hardiness of seven commercial highbush blueberry cultivars (Vaccinium australe Small) was determined from fall to spring for two consecutive years. Hardiness was expressed as T50, estimated by Spearman-Kärber equations. The T50 values for cultivars showed good agreement with spring field survival. Distal buds were less hardy than proximal buds on the same twig. The Average Exotherm (AET) methods were more variable than the T50 method for determining flower bud hardiness.
Southern highbush blueberry, a hybrid of northern highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum) and southern-adapted Vaccinium species, has the potential to meet the need for an early-ripening blueberry in the southern U.S. southern highbush cultivars can ripen up to one month earlier than the earliest rabbiteye (Vaccinium ashei) cultivars currently grown in the southern U.S. However, chilling requirement and cold-hardiness are cultivar-dependent for southern highbush and cultivar testing has been necessary to determine the cultivars best adapted to specific hardiness zones. In a 4-year study at Hope, Ark. (hardiness zone 7b), several southern highbush cultivars were evaluated for productivity, fruit quality and reliability of cropping. Yields were based on 1089 plants/acre (2690 plants/ha) for southern highbush cultivars and 605 plants/acre (1494 plants/ha) for rabbiteye cultivars. `Ozarkblue' and `Legacy' showed the most adaptability at this location, yielding on average 11,013 lb/acre (12,309 kg·ha-1) and 10,328 lb/acre (11,543 kg·ha-1) respectively, compared to 4882 lb/acre (5456 kg·ha-1) for `Premier' (rabbiteye) over 4 years. `Ozarkblue' and `Legacy' also rated well for plant vigor and fruit quality. We would recommend `Ozarkblue' and `Legacy' for commercial planting in southwest Arkansas and believe these cultivars have production potential for other areas of the southern U.S. that have similar hardiness zones and soil type to southwest Arkansas.