Submitted to: Journal of the American Pomological Society
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/17/2010
Publication Date: 7/1/2010
Citation: Ehlenfeldt, M.K., Martin Jr, R.B. 2010. Seed set, berry weight, and yield interactions in highbush blueberry cultivars (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) ‘Bluecrop’ and ‘Duke’. Journal of American Pomological Society. 64:161-170.
Interpretive Summary: Growers question whether small berry size is related to poor pollination and if it will result in reduced yields. To answer this, yields and berry weights of blueberry cultivars, were measured at several harvests each season for ten years, and seed per fruit was counted for four years. Across 10 years, berry weight had no effect on yield. We found, that for ‘Bluecrop’ berry weight and seed/fruit both decreased as the season progressed, and berries with similar numbers of seed varied in weight as much 39% between years. For ‘Duke’, trends of berry weight and seed/fruit were inconsistent, and berries with similar numbers of seed varied in weight as much as 86% between years. Thus, reduced berry weight was not necessarily due to poor pollination. This information will be of use to growers, extension agents, and researchers in understanding cultivar responses to varying pollination circumstances.
Technical Abstract: Yields and berry weights of two widely grown, commercial, highbush blueberry cultivars, ‘Bluecrop’ and ‘Duke’, were evaluated for 3 or more harvests every season over ten years, and seed set was determined at each harvest over the last four. Across 10 years, yield and berry weight had no significant correlation. Under our study conditions, the limitations of yield for ‘Bluecrop’ did not include pollination. In fact, pollination (expressed as s/gfw) had an inverse relationship to yield. For the years in which replicated seed counts were made, we found, in general, that ‘Bluecrop’ berry weight and seed/fruit decreased linearly between Harvest 1 and Harvest 3, and berries with similar seed numbers varied in weight as much 39% between years. Hence, reduced berry weight was not necessarily due to poor pollination. For ‘Duke’, trends of berry weight and seed/fruit across harvests were inconsistent, but ‘Duke’ appeared to have sufficient environmental plasticity to produce fruit with increased berry weight between successive harvests given favorable inputs. For ‘Duke’, berries with similar seed numbers varied in weight as much as 86% between years. A cyclical yield variation was seen in ‘Duke’ that generally followed a high-medium-low pattern.