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Septoria leaf spot reduces flower bud number and return yield in southern blue berries
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In field trials on Premier rabbit eye blueberry, individual shoots were selected and tagged in the fall of 2001, 2002, and 2003 to quantify the effects of Septoria leaf spot severity and disease-induced premature defoliation on flower bud set and return yield. Experiments were carried out similarly on Blue crisp southern high bush blueberry using shoots tagged after fruit harvest in the summer of 2002 and 2003. Leaves on the distal 20-cm segments of these shoots were monitored for disease severity (number of spots per leaf) through the remainder of the growing season; at the same time, defoliation (expressed as the proportion of nodes with missing leaves) was recorded for each of the shoot segments. Flower bud set was assessed subsequently in winter or early spring, and berries were harvested as they matured the following summer to determine return yield. For both cultivars, higher flower bud numbers were more likely to occur on shoots with lower disease levels the previous fall (P ≤ 0.0462 based on a Kolmogorov-Smirnov test). The data further showed that flower bud set potential (i.e., the maximum number of buds on shoots within a given disease severity range) decreased linearly as disease severity increased (r2 ≥ 0.926, P ≤ 0.0005). Based on the slope of this relationship, flower bud set potential decreased by one bud per shoot as disease severity the previous fall increased by 18 and 12 spots per leaf for Premier and Blue crisp, respectively. Relationships between yield and disease variables were similar to those of flower bud numbers and disease, except that the decrease in yield potential (i.e., the maximum fruit weight per shoot within a given disease severity range) was less gradual than for flower bud set potential. On Premier, yield potential dropped markedly and significantly as disease severity the previous fall exceeded about 50 to 60 spots per leaf on average (P < 0.0001 based on a Kruskal-Wallis test). Evidence for such a threshold effect was weaker on Blue crisp, presumably because of the lower number of data points for this cultivar combined with lower yields due to poor pollination.
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Permanent link to this itemhttps://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12478/5383
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