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Journal of the American Pomological Society
(J Am Pom Soc)

American Pomological Society

Volume 77 Number 2 Article 4 Pages: 103-109
Year 2023 Month 4
Title: Effects of Vaccinium arboreum Rootstocks on Yield and Fruit Quality of ‘Patrecia’ Southern Highbush Blueberry Grown with Minimum Soil Amendment
Authors: Cecilia Rubert Heller, Gerardo H. Nunez, and Jeffrey G. Williamson
Blueberry plants (Vaccinium corymbosum interspecific hybrids) need soils with acidic pH and high organic matter. This leads growers to use soil amendments like pine bark and soil acidifying agents like sulfur. These inputs raise agricultural production costs and compromise the economic sustainability of blueberry production. Sparkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum) seedlings have been utilized experimentally as rootstocks for blueberry in Florida, but the impact of clonal sparkleberry rootstocks on blueberry productivity and quality is unknown. The objective of this study is to evaluate the performance of southern highbush blueberry (SHB) cv. ‘Patrecia’ grafted onto three clonal sparkleberry rootstocks. Based on previous research, we hypothesized that grafted blueberries have higher yield and fruit quality than own-rooted blueberries in minimally amended soil. ‘Patrecia’ SHB was grafted onto three different clonal rootstocks (R1, R2, and R3). Plants with their own roots were used as a control. Fruits were harvested in the springs 2019, 2021 and 2022. For each harvest season, fruit yield and quality (average fruit size, total soluble solids, titratable acidity, and firmness) were measured. Grafted plants exhibited equal or higher yields than own-rooted plants in 2021 and 2022. Grafted plants produced larger berries, and the quality of the fruit was similar among treatments. These results suggest that clonal sparkleberry rootstocks can be used to grow blueberries in soils with higher pH and less pine bark than is currently used.

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