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  Eur.J.Hortic.Sci. 81 (6) 321-326 | DOI: 10.17660/eJHS.2016/81.6.5
ISSN 1611-4426 print and 1611-4434 online | © ISHS 2016 | European Journal of Horticultural Science | Original article

Comparison of nonstructural carbohydrates across cranberry cultivars

L.W. DeVetter1,2, E. Beaver1, J. Colquhoun1, J. Zalapa1,3 and R. Harbut1,4
1Department of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA
2Current address at: Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center, Washington State University, Mount Vernon, WA 98273, USA
3U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Vegetable Crops Research Unit, Madison, WI 53706, USA
4Current address: Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey, BC V3W2M8, Canada

Carbohydrate competition within reproductive (fruiting) uprights has been proposed to explain low fruit set and biennial bearing tendencies of cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon). Yet, comparisons of nonstructural carbohydrate concentrations during critical phenological stages across cultivars that differ in biennial bearing tendencies and return bloom potential are lacking. This study sought to address this deficiency by comparing total nonstructural carbohydrates (TNSC), soluble sugars (SS), and starch concentrations across cultivars that reportedly differ in biennial bearing tendencies and return bloom potential. Plant material representing 'Grygleski Hybrid 1' ('GH1'), 'Stevens', and 'HyRed' were collected from a commercial cranberry marsh located in central Wisconsin. Concentrations of sucrose, glucose, fructose, and starch were determined via high-performance liquid chromatography. Vegetative uprights generally had greater concentrations of carbohydrates relative to reproductive uprights, while roots had the lowest concentration across all cultivars. Concentrations of TNSC and SS in reproductive uprights were lowest on 30 July 2013, which corresponds to late bloom/early fruit set and terminal bud development. 'Stevens' and 'HyRed' TNSC and SS concentrations subsequently increased after this period, whereas concentrations remained low in 'GH1'. Return bloom potential was lower in 'GH1' relative to 'Stevens' and 'HyRed'. These findings support the explanation that carbohydrate limitation in reproductive uprights may contribute to biennial bearing by reducing the potential for return bloom.

Keywords biennial bearing, carbohydrate partitioning, soluble sugars, starch, Vaccinium macrocarpon

Significance of this study

What is already known on this subject?

  • Cranberries exhibit biennial bearing, but the physiological mechanisms responsible for this phenomenon have undergone limited study.
What are the new findings?
  • Cultivars with higher return bloom potential had greater concentrations of carbohydrates than those with low return bloom potential during critical sampling periods.
What is the expected impact on horticulture?
  • Results suggest techniques that increase plant nonstructural carbohydrate status may also enhance return bloom and circumvent biennial bearing.

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Received: 27 July 2016 | Accepted: 4 October 2016 | Published: 23 December 2016 | Available online: 23 December 2016

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