Relating nutrient availability to yield: an examination of lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium anustifolium) resource limitation in Prince Edward Island
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This study investigates the role of nutrient availability within the lowbush blueberry (Vacciunium Angustifolium) to add to the current body of knowledge on the role of resource limitation in predicting final yield. The relative concentrations of ten nutrients (N, P, K, Ca, Mg, Fe, B, Cu, Mn, and Zn) are compared to previously established levels and to final yield. The nutrient levels are tracked throughout the growing season across five fields in eastern Prince Edward Island. Four experimental treatments were set up to limit the amount of pollinator exposure in an attempt to compare the nutrient levels and seasonal nutrient changes across a range of yields. Percent fruit set was used as an indication of how successful the treatment plots were, but the observed fruit set did not align with the predicted results. The concentrations of most elements were consistent with at least one of the previously established optimum ranges, while the concentrations of Mg, Cu, and Zn fell outside these ranges. Throughout the growing season the primary macronutrients (N, P, K) all decreased in concentration, along with Cu. The concentrations of secondary macronutrients (Ca, Mg) all increased from the sprout to harvest period, as did Mn, Zn, and Fe. Boron fell from sprout to harvest, then rose again by harvest. Additionally, there appears to be no trend with final yield and any given nutrient concentration within stem tissue. These conclusions may help inform blueberry crop management and our understanding of the importance of nutrients in yield increases.