The midwinter cold hardiness of 25 rabbiteye (V. ashei) blueberry cultivars was assayed across 2 years using a shoot freezing assay. LT50values (i.e. temperature at which 50% of buds are damaged) for the cultivars ranged from –24.9 °C for `Pearl River' (a 50% V. ashei derivative) to –13.7 °C for `Chaucer'. Under New Jersey conditions, numerous cultivars were observed to exhibit dimorphism for dormant floral bud size. Comparisons of bud dimorphism with LT50 values, found dimorphism more common in cultivars with lower floral bud hardiness. LT50 values generally supported empirical observations of winter hardiness, but exceptions suggest that additional factors contribute to observed winter hardiness under field conditions.
The effects of varying rates of a complete fertilizer and irrigation on the growth and fruit yields of `Tifblue' rabbiteye blueberries (Vaccinium ashei Reade) established 3 years before treatment initiation were determined in a field study. Increased rates of irrigation resulted in increased plant growth and fruit yields. Five- and 6-year-old plants were more responsive to increasing irrigation rates than older plants. Irrigation water efficacy was greatest at lower rates and progressively less at higher rates of irrigation. Five- and 6-year-old plants fertilized with the lowest rate (14N–4P–7K; 150 g/plant) grew and yielded less than those fertilized with higher rates. Older plants did not respond to fertilization rates higher than 150 g/plant. Yearly rates of fertilization above 300 g/plant did not influence plant growth or fruit yields. Fertilization and irrigation responses were independent.
Postharvest quality of `Climax' rabbiteye blueberries (Vaccinium ashei Read) was evaluated after exposure to dosages of 0, 0.75, 1.5, 2.25, or 3.0 kGy gamma irradiation (0.118 kGy·min-1) and after subsequent storage. Irradiation did not affect weight loss, but irradiated berries were softer than nontreated berries. There was also a trend toward increased decay as dose increased. Irradiation had no effect on powdery bloom or surface color; total soluble solids concentration, acidity, and pH were affected slightly. Flavor preference was highest for nonirradiated berries and generally declined as dosage increased. Irradiation at 2.25 and 3.0 kGy resulted in increased levels of xylosyl residues in cell walls, and xylosyl residues were the most abundant cell-wall neutral sugar detected in blueberries. There was no evidence of cell wall pectin loss in irradiated berries. Irradiation at 21.5 kGy lowered the quality of fresh-market `Climax' blueberries.
A rabbiteye blueberry selection, T-285, appears parthenocarpic when grown in the greenhouse and sparsely seeded when grown in the field. This semi-seedless character was analyzed to determine the nature and degree of its cross- and self-fertility in comparison to its parents, `Tifblue' and `Delite'. Ovule numbers from T-286 were similar to those of `Tifblue', but lower than those of `Delite'. Seed numbers of open-pollinated `Tifblue' and T-286 were similar, and lower than `Delite', but T-286 was notable in having fruit 60% larger than `Tifblue' and 10% larger than `Delite'. Both `Tifblue' and T-286 had a tendency to produce some open-pollinated fruit with few or no seed present. None of the selections produced significant amounts of fruit when self-pollinated. When cross-pollinated, all selections set more seed, but this was less pronounced with T-286 than with either of its parents.
The effects of varying rates of a complete fertilizer and trickle irrigation on the growth an fruit yield of `Tifblue' rabbiteye blueberries were determined in a 6-year field study. For the first 3 years, plants fertilized with the lowest rate (150 g/plant per year) had lower plant volume and fruit yield than plants receiving the higher rates (300, 600, and 1200). For the remainder of the study, fertilizer rates did not influence plant growth or fruit yields. The influence of irrigation rates (3 to 27 liters/plant per week) on growth and yields was less evident during the 1st and 2nd years, but became more pronounced in the 3rd and 4th years of the study. In general, plants receiving the lowest irrigation rate grew and yielded less than plants irrigated at the other rates. By the 6th year, however, there were no significant differences in fruit yield due to irrigation rates or fertilizer levels.
A late spring frost, -2°C on 10 Mar 1989, destroyed all blossoms on `Delite' rabbiteye blueberries. To determine the effect of hedging as a rejuvenation method, six-year-old `Delite' plants were pruned on 26 April 1989. All branches were removed at 46 cm from ground level. Unpruned control plants were approximately 184 cm tall. On 21 Mar 1990 a frost of -2°C occurred. Two days later bud damage was assessed on three wood types: spring-old (SO), spring growth on old, weak wood; spring-new (SN), spring growth on vigorous 1-year-old shoots; and fall (F), postharvest late summer/fall growth. Buds were identified as to their stage of development. Buds formed on both types of spring wood were further developed than those on fall wood. As flower stage advanced frost damage increased. Blossoms on fall growth were most frost tolerant and SN was more hardy than SO. Subsequent yields will be determined and reported.
A Weibull distribution function was used to develop a model for estimating cumulative flowering and the distribution of flowers of `Tifblue' rabbiteye blueberry (Vacciniumashei Reade) as a function of growing degree days (GDD) after chilling for chill hours ranging from 300 to 1200. Controlled chilling and flowering conditions were imposed on blueberry plants to obtain data for model development. Once developed the model was validated using independent data sets which were available in the literature. Given information concerning chilling and historical GDD, the model can be used to predict the onset of flowering, cumulative flowering, total number of flowers, and flower frequency at discrete intervals. It is expected that the techniques developed will be applicable to a range of fruit species in which chilling influences flowering habit.
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'.
Bud development in ‘Tifblue’ rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium ashei Reade) was reduced with increasing levels of soil-applied paclobutrazol (PB). Flowering was delayed from 10 to 15 days on plants receiving ≥3 g a.i. PB. This effect still existed 2 years after treatment. Rates of ≤2 g per plant did not influence leaf area. Floral or vegetative bud development, photosynthesis, transpiration, or fruit size when measured 1 year after treatment, but fruit yields were inversely correlated to PB levels. Two years after application, ≤2 g rates had not influenced total plant growth. Stems arising from mature canes were reduced by ≥ 0.5 g PB, but length of juvenile canes was increased by rates up to 2 g PB. Paclobutrazol applications had no influence on leaf content of N, P, Ca, Mg, Fe, or Cu. Only the highest level resulted in increased leaf levels of K and Zn, but Mn leaf content was increased by all levels of PB. In general, rates of soil-applied PB which reduced vegetative growth also reduced fruit yield. Chemical name used: β [(4-chlorophenyl)methyl]-α-(1,1 dimethylethyl)-1H-1,2,4-triazole-l-ethanol (paclobutrazol).
Effective pollination period (EPP) is the number of days during which pollination is effective to produce a fruit. The EPP is determined by ovule longevity, pollen tube growth rate and length of stigmatic receptivity. The objectives of this research were to establish the EPP of rabbiteye blueberry and to further the understanding of its limiting parameters. The experiments were conducted in growth chambers using blueberry plants of the cultivars Brightwell and Tifblue. Emasculated flowers were hand-pollinated at 0, 2, 4, 6, and 8 days after anthesis (DAA). Ripe fruit were harvested to record percentage fruit set. Stigmatic receptivity was evaluated as the number of germinated tetrads on the stigma 24 hours after pollination. Under day/night temperatures of 23/10 °C, the EPP was 7 days. Stigmatic receptivity was lowest on the day of anthesis and increased as flowers aged. Stigmatic receptivity was not positively correlated to fruit set, therefore, this parameter was not the most limiting factor of the EPP. Observations of pistils pollinated 3 DAA indicated that the fastest growing pollen tubes reached the bottom of the style 2 to 3 days after pollination. Self-pollination resulted in normal pollen tube growth in the style and inside the ovary. Self-pollen tubes were seen penetrating the micropile.