Publication Date

12-1-2006

Degree Program

Department of Agriculture

Degree Type

Master of Agriculture

Abstract

In response to the changing economy of Kentucky tobacco, producers are seeking an economically viable alternative that can be produced on a similarly small acreage. Blueberries are an emerging crop that satisfy the needs of these producers and are popular with consumers for their flavor and health benefits. In addition to selling the berries, local producers are experiencing much success selling blueberry plants to homeowners and other producers. However, the protocol for propagating specific cultivars under local environmental conditions is unknown. Rooting percentages for producers has been extremely variable. A two year study conducted at Western Kentucky University investigated asexual propagation of four commercially significant cultivars of Vaccinium corymbosum, highbush blueberry, 'Jersey', 'Elliot', 'Bluecrop', and 'Bluejay'. The study was a randomized complete block design with four replications. Cuttings were taken from a producer's field in Metcalfe County and planted in a bed of pure peat under a mist system at the Western Kentucky University Agricultural Research and Education Center. Propagation techniques were designed to closely mimic the systems used by producers. The effect of cutting phenology, rooting hormone, and cutting location along the stem was investigated as they affected rooting percentage, and dry matter mass of leaves, shoots, and roots. Hormones had no effect on rooting or growth of first year cuttings. The greatest rooting percentages and dry mass gain was found in descending order, 'Jersey', 'Elliot', 'Bluecrop', and 'Bluejay'. There was a correlation between location of the cutting and time of the year the cutting was acquired. Basal cuttings performed well early in the season, while apical cuttings performed well later in the season. The effects of four weed management schemes were investigated on berry yield components and new growth in an established orchard of 'Bluecrop' blueberries in Metcalfe County, Kentucky. The experimental design was a randomized complete block with four replications. Plots consisted of six established plants but data was collected on the innermost four. Treatments were weed-free strips 0.609 or 1.828 meters wide within the row, mowing, and an untreated control. Weed-free strips were maintained as necessary with directed sprays of labeled rates of glyphosate, a phloem-mobile, nonselective herbicide. Highly significant differences in new growth were noted during both years from the herbicide-treated plots compared with the non-treated plots. In 2005, highly significant differences were noted within total berry weight and berry weight per plant from the herbicide-treated plots compared with the non-treated plots. In 2006, highly significant differences were noted within total berry numbers, number of clusters per plant, and mean berries per cluster from the herbicide-treated plots compared with the non-treated plots.

Disciplines

Agriculture | Agronomy and Crop Sciences | Plant Sciences