Characterization of Fruit Development and Ripening of Vaccinium angustifolium Ait. in Relation to Microclimate Conditions
Gibson, Lara Dawn
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Berry ripening in lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait.) is influenced by developmental, physiological and climatic factors resulting in a heterogenous mix of maturities at harvest. This study characterizes the physico-chemical changes which occur during fruit ontogeny and links ripening patterns to micoclimate. Individual clones in five commercial fiels were followed in the 2006 and 2007 growing seasons. Phenolic acids, flavonols, and flavan-3-ols decreased and anthocyanins increased with maturity. Peak maturity consistently occurred at 1200 accumulated growing degree days (GDD). There was a sharp decline in fruit retention at the end of the growing season suggesting a date after which harvested yield declines but no consistent pattern was detected between years or fields.The consistency of GDD accumulation in relation to ripening pattern suggests GDDs can be used as a predictive ripening index. The physico-chemical nature of ripe berries indicates ripe berries could be harvested earlier than is currently the practice.