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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Corvallis, Oregon » Horticultural Crops Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #337680

Research Project: Genetic Improvement and Virus Management of Small Fruit Crops

Location: Horticultural Crops Research

Title: Northern highbush blueberry cultivars differed in yield and fruit quality in two organic production systems from planting to maturity

Author
item STRIK, BERNADINE - Oregon State University
item VANCE, AMANDA - Oregon State University
item Finn, Chad

Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/28/2017
Publication Date: 6/1/2017
Citation: Strik, B.C., Vance, A.J., Finn, C.E. 2017. Northern highbush blueberry cultivars differed in yield and fruit quality in two organic production systems from planting to maturity. HortScience. 52(6):844–851. https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTSCI11972-17.

Interpretive Summary: Very little work has been done in organic production systems for blueberry. This study looked at the performance of 10 blueberry cultivars in different organic mulch or weed mat mulch systems. Cultivars responded differently to the different treatments. ‘Bluegold’ and ‘Draper’ were among the cultivars with consistently high flower bud set (40 to 57%) whereas others had consistently low values (e.g., 22 to 45% in ‘Bluecrop’). The number of flowers per bud was affected only by cultivar. There was no effect of year or amendment-mulch treatment on percent fruit set which averaged 93% during the study; however, ‘Ozarkblue’ had a significantly lower fruit set (88%) than only ‘Aurora’ (96%). Berry weight was affected by year (plant age), cultivar, and amendment-mulch type. ‘Ozarkblue’, ‘Aurora’, and ‘Bluegold’ had the largest berries. Type of mulch had little effect on berry weight, except for in ‘Ozarkblue’, ‘Aurora’, and ‘Reka’ where plants grown with weed mat produced larger fruit than those grown with the organic amendment-mulch. On average, ‘Bluejay’, ‘Draper’, and ‘Liberty’ fruit had the highest percent soluble solids and ‘Ozarkblue’ the lowest. Fruit harvested from plants grown with weed mat were firmer than when organic mulch was used. ‘Draper’ fruit were much firmer than those of the other cultivars in all years of the study. The number of flower buds per plant multiplied by the number of flowers/bud and berry weight (cultivar specific) and average fruit set was a good predictor of yield in young plants. Yield per plant increased from the second through seventh growing seasons as plants matured. Cumulative yield was highest in ‘Legacy’ and lowest in ‘Bluejay’ and in ‘Draper’, which had relatively low yield when plants were young. Most cultivars had greater yield when grown with weed mat, whereas ‘Bluegold’ and ‘Liberty’ were not affected by amendment-mulch type.

Technical Abstract: ‘Northern highbush blueberry cultivars were evaluated in a certified organic research site. The treatments included cultivar and amendment-mulch and “weed mat”. Plant traits and yield were collected from the 2nd through 8th growing seasons. Adding on-farm compost as a pre-plant amendment and as part of the mulching program increased soil pH from 4.9-6.9, organic matter content, and Ca, Mg, and K levels compared to the weed mat mulch. The higher pH in the organic amendment-mulch treatment reduced plant growth and yield in some cultivars. ‘Bluegold’ and ‘Draper’ consistently had high flower bud set (40-57%) whereas others had consistently low values (e.g., 22-45% in ‘Bluecrop’). The number of flowers per bud was affected only by cultivar. There was no effect of year or amendment-mulch treatment on percent fruit set which averaged 93% during the study; however, ‘Ozarkblue’ had a significantly lower fruit set (88%) than only ‘Aurora’ (96%). Berry weight was affected by year (plant age), cultivar, and amendment-mulch type. ‘Ozarkblue’, ‘Aurora’, and ‘Bluegold’ had the largest berries. Type of mulch had little effect on berry weight, except for in ‘Ozarkblue’, ‘Aurora’, and ‘Reka’ where plants grown with weed mat produced larger fruit than those grown with the organic amendment-mulch. On average, ‘Bluejay’, ‘Draper’, and ‘Liberty’ fruit had the highest percent soluble solids and ‘Ozarkblue’ the lowest. Fruit harvested from plants grown with weed mat were firmer than when organic mulch was used. ‘‘Draper’ fruit were much firmer than those of the other cultivars. The number of flower buds per plant multiplied by the number of flowers/bud and berry weight and average fruit set was a good predictor of yield in young plants. Yield/plant increased from the 2nd-7th growing seasons. Cumulative yield was highest in ‘Legacy’ and lowest in ‘Bluejay’ and in ‘Draper’, which had relatively low yield when plants were young. Most cultivars had greater yield when grown with weed mat, whereas ‘Bluegold’ and ‘Liberty’ were not affected by amendment-mulch type.