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Self-fertility evaluations of northern-adapted rabbiteye blueberry hybrids

Mark K. Ehlenfeldt, Matthew Kramer
Hortscience 2012 v.47 no.12 pp. 1837-1842
Agricultural Research Service, Vaccinium corymbosum, clones, cross pollination, cultivars, fruit set, germplasm, greenhouses, hybrids, seed set, self-pollination, selfing, United States
Rabbiteye blueberry hybrids that the USDA-ARS program has bred for northern adaptation are combinations of 6x V. ashei Reade, 6x V. constablaei Gray, 4x V. corymbosum L., and 2x V. darrowii Camp germplasm at the hexaploid level, and are generally composed of 50% or greater V. ashei (rabbiteye) germplasm. Four northern-adapted rabbiteye (NRE) selections (US 1043, US 1045, US 1056, US 1057), four rabbiteye cultivar standards (‘Brightwell’, ‘Climax’, ‘Tifblue’, ‘Woodard’), two rabbiteye x V. constablaei hybrid cultivars (‘Little Giant’, ‘Snowflake’), and two highbush cultivars (‘Duke’, ‘Bluecrop’) were pollinated, under greenhouse conditions, with either self-pollen or a multi-cultivar, bulk-pollen mixture (appropriate to ploidy level and species) to determine the relative requirements for cross-pollination among NRE types. Fruit set, berry weight, and seed set were subsequently evaluated. The results suggest that NRE, in general, exhibit cross-pollination needs intermediate to the parent types such that: rabbiteye > northern rabbiteye > highbush (i.e. rabbiteye has the lowest self-fertility and the greatest need for cross-pollination). Considerable variation existed among the NRE selections tested, which suggests that it might be possible to select clones with good levels of self-fertility, potentially equivalent to that of highbush blueberry.