University of Arkansas, Fayetteville


Woody perennial plants including blackberries (Rubus subgenus Rubus Watson) require certain amounts of chilling or rest hours below 7T during the dormant season for successful bud break the following year. Blackberry cultivars developed in Arkansas are being grown in various climates worldwide, and all cultivars need chilling requirement estimates for accurate recommendations of adaptation. Determining chilling requirements using stem cuttings collected from field-grown plants rather than whole plants is a desirable system. We conducted a study to evaluate both artificial- and field-chilling of six cultivars. For the artificial-chilling study, 12-node stem cuttings were collected 2 days after the first killing frost. These were then placed in a moist medium in a walk-in cooler at 30C. At- 100 hour chilling intervals, five cuttings of each cultivar were placed under an intermittent mist system. For the field-chilling study, a biophenometer was placed in the field to measure chill, and ten 12-node stem cuttings of each cultivar were collected at 100-lwur intervals of chilling up to 1000 hours below 7'C and placed under intermittent mist. For both studies the mist bench was located in a heated greenhouse (min. temperature of 15T), and cuttings were placed according to a completely random design. Bud break was recorded weekly. Studies were analyzed separately by SAS. Results for Study One, artificial chilling, were inconclusive due to a lack of clear differentiation among the cultivars and their chilling intervals. Study Two, using field-chilling, showed a significant chilling-interval x cultivar interaction. 'Arapaho' appeared to have a chilling requirement of 400 to 500 hours, 'Kiowa' 200 hours, 'Shawnee' 400 to 500 hours. and 'Chickasaw' probably near that of Shawnee. The cultivars Choctaw and Apache did not provide clear chilling-interval differentiation in the study. Our results indicate that the use of stem cuttings receiving field chilling to evaluate chilling requirement of blackberry cultivars has merit and can be a successful method in this research area.