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Abstract Detail


McKenzie, David B. [1], Bishop, Gary A. [1], Debnath, Samir C. [1], Dixon, Peggy L. [1].

Flower occurrence in a recent planting of half-high blueberry cultivars in eastern Newfoundland as affected by surface mulch type.

Commercial half-high blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L. x Vaccinium angustifolium Ait.) producers on the Cochrane soil series in eastern Newfoundland have suffered major crop losses in new plantings due to frost heaving and waterlogging. These high silt soils are prone to compaction and often have intermittent perched water tables caused by a shallow hard pan. Highbush blueberry (V. corymbosum L.) is not native to the Island of Newfoundland but producers are evaluating half-high blueberries as a new U-Pick crop.
A field experiment was planted in 2012 at St. John’s using four year old commercial half-high cultivars from four maturity classes (Bluetta – early, Reka – early to midseason, Chippewa – midseason, Bonus – mid to late season). These were assessed for plant establishment characteristics under three surface mulch types (sawdust, wood chips, and black plastic). The experimental design was a cultivar x mulch type factorial complete randomized block design with five plants per plot and five replications. The field site was deep tilled and tile drained, raised beds 30 cm high were prepared, and twin drip irrigation lines were installed in the root zone on each side of the plants for scheduled fertigation and irrigation. Soil moisture sensors within each mulch type allowed for independent irrigation of the plants in the non-restricted precipitation access sawdust/wood chip mulch treatments and the restricted precipitation access plastic mulch treatments. Due to intermittent snow cover, winter damage each year was moderately severe on upper stem flower buds and leaf buds. Plant flower occurrence in the first two growing seasons was near zero for Bluetta and Bonus, low for Reka (12 %) and moderate for Chippewa (55 %). Blueberry plant flower occurrence on sawdust (12 %) and wood chip mulch (12 %) was less than half of flower occurrence under black plastic mulch (28 %). As the plants established in the field over the past two years, the most noticeable changes observed were an increase in flower occurrence in Chippewa plants grown under sawdust from 32 % to 56 %, and Reka plants grown under plastic from 16% to 48 %. Crop assessment will continue through the 2015 production season.

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1 - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Atlantic Cool Climate Crop Research Centre, 308 Brookfield Road, Bldg 25, St. John's, NL, A1E 0B2, Canada

Half-high blueberry
Cultivar assessment
Flowering occurrence
Sawdust mulch
Wood chip mulch
Black plastic mulch
Maritime climate
podzolic soil
high silt soil
Boreal ecozone
Trickle irrigation
V. corymbosumx V. angustifolium

Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Topics
Session: P
Location: Hall D/The Shaw Conference Centre
Date: Monday, July 27th, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM
Number: PHO001
Abstract ID:117
Candidate for Awards:None

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