1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
The objective of this cooperative research project is to enhance economic benefit to Azorean horticultural producers through improved approaches to manage biotic stresses in Azorean fruit cultivation, field trials of new small fruit cultivars for potential commercialization in the Azores, and genetic studies for genotyping Azorean fruit cultivars. This project is part of the Azores Cooperative Initiatives Program (ACIP), as jointly decided in May 2003 by the ACIP Technical Working Group held by the United States Government and the Regional Government of the Azores. ACIP, or rather the requirement to engage in cooperative initiatives with the Azores, Portugal, is mandated in the 1995 US-Portugal Agreement on Cooperation and Defense and further defined in the Final Minute to that agreement. ACIP was created and has been implemented through Department of Defense (DOD) financial resources and relationships with civilian federal agencies and other non-governmental institutions as part of the U.S Government’s commitment to the agreement. DOD has requested and funded the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA/ARS) to serve as the lead civilian agency and facilitator for ACIP. The agreement calls for the strengthening of the economic and social development of the Azores; the identification of areas within which cooperative activities and programs can promote this development; and this cooperation shall be in various areas outlined in the Final Minute, such as agriculture, education, environment, tourism and cultural exchange, civil protection, and social security and health. This cooperative project directly meets these objectives.
1b. Approach (from AD-416)
Support the enhancement of Azorean horticultural production by conducting research to: 1) develop and implement a reliable approach to plant production that reduces crop losses, provides a fair income for the farmer, reduces pesticide use, reduces damage to the natural ecosystems including biodiversity, reduces pesticide residues on crops and stimulates IPM research and educational capabilities in the Azores; 2) conduct field trials of new high-value crops with potential for cultivation in the Azores; 3) genetically identify and characterize several local fruit varieties grown in the Azores. This project is part of the same effort addressed in Project No. 0210-22310-002-61G with Ohio State University.
3. Progress Report
Progress was obtained through face-to-face meetings and site visits, email communications and phone calls between the PI, ARS and Ohio State University scientists. Blueberry trials continued in Furnas and Ponta Delgada In 2008 and 2009. In Furnas, the variety Emerald produced a reasonable amount of fruits with 2009 production was almost 10 x higher (46.7 kg) with an average production per plant of 2,597.22 g, than in 2008 (5.00 kg total, with average of 430.69 g production per plant). There was a shorter crop season in 2008 (August and September) than 2009 which may account for this change. Fruit length and weight were superior in 2008, but the diameter and the total soluble solids content were superior in 2009. In this trial symptoms of the leaf rust disease caused by Naohidemyces vaccinii (Pucciniastrum vaccinii) were observed. The most susceptible cultivars were Jewel and Spring High. Also some insect pests, such as Epiphyas postvittana (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae), Heliothrips haemorrhoidalis (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) and Aphis gossypii (Homoptera: Aphididae) were identified (Hummer et al., 2009). At the end of 2008, most of the leaf area was damaged by thrips with bronze leaves that dropped prematurely. In the Ponta Delgada blueberry trial:, the southern highbush blueberry cultivars (Misty and O’Neal) grew fairly well, but the buds of the others three cultivars did not break. Less than 200 hours of chilling was received, so the northern highbush cultivars did not break bud. Significant pests or diseases were not observed on these plants. In the blackberry trial carried out at Ponta Delgada, the vegetative bud break of the ‘Triple Crown’ blackberries occurred very late in the growing season. In the beginning of June the buds started to break, with the first flowers observed only at the end of that month. The fruits first ripened on 26 August and finished on 17 December. The total production was 57.3 kg. The peak occurred in the first week of October. No significant pests or diseases were observed. In the raspberry trial, the first fruits were collected on 7 August and the last ones on 14 September. The total production obtained was 18.1 kg, and the average production per plant was 188.6 g. The peak occurred on 17 August. An infestation of Spodoptera littoralis (Boisduval) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) was observed on this crop, mainly on Taylor. It started in mid-August. The pest damaged the young buds, leaves, flowers and fruits. The pest was controlled using three treatments of a Bacillus thuringiensis product, but the efficacy was poor. The Triple Crown blackberries and Heritage raspberries produced for the first time in 2009. Only the southern highbush cultivars, with a chilling requirement of 200 hours or less are suited to cultivate in the Azores. The climate and soil type have many similarities to Hawaii, where the low chilling southern highbush blueberries have been grown successfully (Zee et al., 2006; Hummer and Zee, 2007). More years of study are needed to evaluate their productivity under the Azorean conditions and to develop agronomic practices to optimize production.