Submitted to: Acta Horticulturae
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/4/2000
Publication Date: 4/1/2002
Citation: Noffsinger, S., Stringer, S.J., Spiers, J.M. 2002. Growth and Spread of Blueberry Cultivars in a 15 Year-Old Collection. 7th Acta Horticulturae. December 4-9, 2000. Chile. p. 165-173. Interpretive Summary: Measurements of the growth and spread of twenty-one unpruned rabbiteye and southern highbush blueberry cultivars were conducted 14 years after establishment to identify potential materials for utilization in development of new blueberry germplasm with reduced height and spread for easier mechanical harvest and reduced maintenance and associated coasts off pruning. Four cultivars, 'Sharpblue, Climax, Flordablue and Premier, and two breeding lines, MS 75 and MS81 showed the least perpendicular growth within and across rows while six other cltivars including 'Avonblue', Beckyblue', 'Delite', 'Florablue', 'Sharpblue', and 'Tifblue' dusplayed the most upright growth habit.
Technical Abstract: Blueberry cultivars with reduced plant height and non-spreading, upright growth habit would be useful for reducing pruning requirements and improving ease of hand and machine harvest. Twenty-one rabbiteye cultivars and six southern highbush cultivars and selections were planted on March 6,1985 in southern Mississippi, and were not pruned for fourteen years. Data was colected for plant height, bush spread with the row, and bush spread perpendicular to the row in July 1999. Cultivars were also visually rated for upright vs. prostrate growth habit. Most cultivars attained heights greater than 225 cm, which is a less that ideal stature for hand and machine harvesting. MS75, MS81, 'Sharpblue', 'Climax', 'Florablue', and 'Premier', maintained row and perpendicular bush widths which were better for machine harvesting and reducing pruning requirements. 'Avonblue', 'Beckblue', 'Delite', 'Florablue, 'Sharpblue', and 'Tifblue' had the most upright growth habit. Implications for management and breeding are discussed.