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Factors in berry-splitting in blueberries examined

Date:
May 26, 2011
Source:
USDA/Agricultural Research Service
Summary:
Researchers have found several factors involved in blueberry splitting, a significant problem that can cause losses of $300 to $500 per acre.

ARS horticulturist Donna Marshall and her colleagues are solving the problem of splitting in blueberries, which can cause expensive losses for growers.
Credit: Photo by Peggy Greb

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) researchers and a university colleague have found several factors involved in blueberry splitting, a significant problem that can cause losses of $300 to $500 per acre.

Splitting and cracking occur in southern highbush and rabbiteye blueberries if they receive preharvest rainfall when fully ripe or approaching ripeness, according to scientists with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS). ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.

ARS horticulturist Donna Marshall, retired horticulturist James Spiers and geneticist Stephen Stringer at the ARS Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory in Poplarville, Miss., and University of Southern Mississippi associate professor Kenneth Curry collaborated on the research studies published in HortScience.

In the first study, published in 2007, the researchers developed a laboratory method to model rain-related splitting in blueberries. Many blueberry breeders throughout the country are using this method to more vigorously screen cultivars and selections for splitting susceptibility. The results from field and laboratory tests showed that the rabbiteye cultivar "Premier" has the lowest incidence of splitting, while widely grown cultivar "Tifblue" exhibited a high incidence of splitting.

Marshall and her colleagues also investigated the correlation between splitting susceptibility and fruit firmness. Laboratory and field tests proved that, in general, firmer fruit has a higher tendency to split. But one selection, named "MS614," exhibited extreme firmness and splitting resistance. The results, published in 2008, suggest that breeders who select for firmness may inadvertently also be selecting for splitting. But the laboratory screening method Marshall and colleagues created has helped remedy this problem.

The most recent study, published in 2009, evaluated water-uptake thresholds in split-resistant "Premier" and split-susceptible "Tifblue" fruit at all stages of development. The researchers harvested and weighed the fruit, then soaked it in distilled water at room temperature for 24 hours. They found that "Premier" absorbs more water than "Tifblue," yet remains intact and experiences minimal splitting. According to Marshall, the studies show that splitting is a cultivar-specific problem.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by USDA/Agricultural Research Service. The original article was written by Sharon Durham. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Factors in berry-splitting in blueberries examined." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110526102757.htm>.
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. (2011, May 26). Factors in berry-splitting in blueberries examined. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110526102757.htm
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Factors in berry-splitting in blueberries examined." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110526102757.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

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