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E. Marroquin, J. L. Silva, J. O. Garner, J. B. Magee, J. Braswell, and J. Spiers

Three varieties of rabbit eye (Vaccinium ashei) blueberries (`Climax',, `Premier', and `Tifblue') were harvested in Mississippi and two varieties of highbush (v. corymbosum blueberries (`BlueCrop' and `Jersey') were harvested in Michigan. Each variety was harvested at three different locations as replications. The berries were rapidly cooled to 5°C after harvest, placed in 1-pint containers, and analyzed at 7-day intervals for 28 days with day 0 being 48 h after harvest.

Shear, compression and puncture forces were higher for rabbiteye spp. than for highbush spp. `Bluecrop' blueberries showed the lowest shear force whereas, Climax, had the most shear force. Puncture force (skin toughness) was lower for `Bluecrop' and `Jersey' and higher for, Climax, There was an increase in shear force by all varieties with storage time. `Premier, and `Climax' had lower soluble solids, but they increased with storage time. `Jersey' had the highest pH and `Tifblue' the lowest. Although all varieties lost moisture with time, `Bluecrop' always had higher moisture. Mold growth varied with time; however, `Bluecrop' had a higher percentage of moldy berries throughout refrigeration. The percent decay was higher for highbush blueberries after 16 d of refrigeration. Rabbiteye's toughness and firmness give them a longer refrigerated shelf-life over highbush blueberries.

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Timothy Laverty and N. Vorsa

Vaccinium ashei (6x) /V. corymbosum (4x) pentaploid hybrids backcrossed to V. ashei yield aneuploid progeny ranging in chromosome number from 5x to 6x levels. Six backcross aneuploids having chromosome numbers of 2n = 61, 62, 64, 66, 68, and 70 were selected from this backcross and crossed in a complete diallel mating design and backcrossed (as female parents) to two V. ashei cultivars and an interspecific hexaploid hybrid. Fertility variables measured were percent fruit set, total seed per berry, developed seed per berry, percent developed seed per berry, percent seed germination, developed seed per pollination, and seedlings per pollination. A significant linear and positive relationship was found between chromosome number and all seven fertility variables. However, regression accounted for 30% or less of the variation among crosses. Diallel analysis revealed that general combining ability was the major contributing effect for all seven variables, followed by reciprocal effects. Specific combining ability was not significant. The second backcross to the hexaploid level suggested significant effects due to both the BC1 aneuploid and hexaploid genotypes and to a significant genotype × genotype interaction for three of the variables. All six aneuploids were either fully or partially self-sterile. The findings of this study substantiate earlier suggestions that pentaploids in blueberry can be used to facilitate bilateral transfer of characteristics between the tetraploid and hexaploid levels in blueberry.

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Gregory A. Lang and E. James Parrie

Pollen from six southern highbush blueberry cultivars derived from Vaccinium corymbosum L. and one or more other species (V. darrowi Camp, V. ashei Reade, and V. angustifolium Aiton) was incubated on nutrient agar to determine tetrad viability, pollen tube growth rates, and incidence of multiple pollen tube germinations. `Avonblue' pollen had a significantly lower tetrad germination percentage than `Georgiagem', `Flordablue', `Sharpblue', `Gulfcoast', or `O'Neal', all of which had >90% viable tetrads. The in vitro growth rate of `O'Neal' pollen tubes was significantly higher than the growth rates of `Sharpblue' and `Georgiagem pollen tubes. Of those tetrads that were viable, more than two pollen tubes germinated from 83% and 91% of the `Gulfcoast' and `Sharpblue' tetrads, respectively, while only 11% of the `Flordablue' tetrads produced more than two pollen tubes. The total number of pollen tubes germinated per 100 tetrads ranged from 157 (`Flordablue') to 324 (`Sharpblue'), resulting in actual pollen grain viabilities ranging from 39% to 81%. Genetic differences in pollen vigor, as indicated by pollen viability, pollen tube growth rates, and multiple pollen tube germinations, may influence blueberry growers' success in optimizing the beneficial effects of cross-pollination on fruit development.

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Mark K. Ehlenfeldt and Robert B. Martin Jr.

Eighty-seven highbush blueberry and species-introgressed blueberry cultivars were evaluated for fruit firmness in the 1998-2000 growing seasons with a FirmTech 1 automated firmness tester. Significant differences were observed among cultivars. An average firmness of 136.1 g·mm-1 of deflection (g·mm-1 dfl) was observed across all studied cultivars, and a range of 80.4 g·mm-1 dfl (`Herbert') to 189.0 g·mm-1 dfl (`Pearl River'). Species ancestry was not consistently related to firmness; however, cultivars with higher firmness values often possessed a higher percentage of Vaccinium darrowi Camp and V. ashei Reade ancestry. Conversely, cultivars with softer than average fruit often possessed a higher percentage of lowbush (V. angustifolium Ait.) ancestry. This information may help to identify sources of breeding material for increased firmness in highbush blueberry hybrids.

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E. James Parrie and Gregory A. Lang

Pollen deposition on the stigmatic surface of blueberry pistils was studied with regard to maximum pollen load and stigmatic fluid production (stigma receptivity). Three hybrid southern highbush cultivars (Vaccinium corymbosum L. with V. darrowi Camp, V. ashei Reade, and/or V. angustfolium Aiton), two northern highbush cultivars (V. corymbosum), and one hybrid half-high cultivar (V. corymbosum with V. angustifolium) were selfand cross-pollinated with counted pollen tetrads until saturation of the stigmatic surface occurred. Stigmatic saturation generally required 200 to 300 tetrads and was characterized by the cessation of stigmatic fluid production and the inability to absorb further tetrads. The loss of stigmatic receptivity was irreversible. Cross-pollination resulted in cessation of stigmatic fluid production at lower levels of tetrad deposition than did self-pollination, suggesting a potential pollen-stigma recognition phenomenon. Northern highbush, half-high, and southern highbush cultivars required 7% to 10%, 12% to 17%, and 14% to 21%, respectively, more self-pollen to develop the stigmatic saturation condition. The potential relation of the pollenstigma phenomenon to self-incompatibility mechanisms is discussed.

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Mark K. Ehlenfeldt, Lisa J. Rowland, Elizabeth L. Ogden, and Bryan T. Vinyard

growers like the growth habit of rabbiteye ( V. ashei Reade, syn. V. virgatum Ait.) because it is vigorous and relatively easy to care for in addition to being productive. Rabbiteye is not naturally found in areas north of ≈37°N latitude in the eastern

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James Hancock, Jorge Retamales, Claudia Moggia, Mauricio Lolas, and Paul Lyrene

There is great interest in growing blueberries in Chile. Although only a few hundred hectares are now planted, thousands of hectares are predicted by the turn of the century. There are many areas in the country that are adaptable to blueberry culture, and labor costs are extremely low. Chileans feel they have a golden opportunity to make a profit by producing blueberries during the North American off-season.

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J.G. Williamson and E.P. Miller

Three experiments were conducted in north-central Florida to determine the effects of fall defoliation on flower bud initiation and yield of southern highbush (SHB) blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum hybrid). In 1998, randomly selected upright shoots of mature, field-grown `Misty' and `Sharpblue' plants were hand-defoliated at monthly intervals beginning 4 Sept. and ending 7 Dec. In 1999, a similar study was conducted using different plants of the same cultivars. Representative shoots were defoliated at monthly intervals beginning 14 Sept. and ending 15 Dec. Additional shoots were also partially defoliated by removing the distal two-thirds of each leaf at monthly intervals from 15 Oct. through 15 Dec. In a third experiment, 2-year-old container-grown `Star' SHB plants were completely defoliated at monthly intervals beginning 13 Sept. and ending 15 Dec. In each experiment, control shoots, or plants ('Star'), were not defoliated. Although there were differences among cultivars and years, all cultivars tested demonstrated negative effects on reproductive growth and development from September and October defoliations. For `Sharpblue', reduced fruit yield from early fall defoliation appeared to be due to fewer fruit set per flower bud. However, for `Misty', reduced fruit yield from early fall defoliation was the result of large reductions in flower bud numbers as well as fewer fruit set per flower bud. September and October defoliations of `Star' reduced yields or delayed fruit ripening. Collectively, these experiments demonstrate the importance of maintaining healthy foliage through October in the lower southeastern United States for adequate flower bud initiation and high yields of SHB blueberry the following spring.

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Mark K. Ehlenfeldt and Chad E. Finn

these plant materials. The Univ. of Florida patented and released a pink-fruited rabbiteye ( V. ashei Reade) cultivar in 2004 (‘Florida Rose’; Lyrene, 2004 ), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture blueberry breeding program has received several

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Mark K. Ehlenfeldt and Matthew Kramer

, development time, etc. ( Coville, 1921 ; Ehlenfeldt, 2001 ; Meader and Darrow, 1947 ). In contrast, rabbiteye blueberry ( V. ashei Reade) cultivars are considered overwhelmingly self-incompatible ( Brightwell et al., 1955 ; El-Agamy et al., 1981 ) and