The Importance of Soil pH

Blueberries are distinct among fruit crops in their soil and fertility requirements. As members of the Rhododendron family, blueberries require an acidic (low pH) soil, preferably in the 4.8 to 5.5 pH range. When soil pH is appreciably higher than 5.5, iron chlorosis often results when soil pH drops below 4.8, the possibility of manganese toxicity arises. In either case, plants do not perform well. Blueberries have a relatively low nitrogen requirement and thrive on organic fertilizers. Soil pH...

References

Remind customers of blueberry's benefits. The Seasonal Marketer. July. p. 8. Anon. 2000. Blueberry elixir reverses age-related symptoms. Agriculture Research (USDA). February. p. 23. Anon. 1999. Blueberries may provide anti-ageing boost. Earth Save. Anon. 1991. Cost-effectiveness of anti-bird netting for blueberries. HortIdeas. April. p. 42. Anon. No date. The cultivated blueberry market. North American Blueberry Council. www.blueberry.org Baker, J.B., J.F. Hancock and D.C....

Blueberry Fertilization Practices

Soil-building practices prior to establishment can go a long way toward providing the fertility necessary for a healthy blueberry planting. High levels of soil organic matter are especially important in blueberry culture, contributing to the soil's ability to retain and supply moisture to the crop, buffering pH, and releasing nutrients through decay. Soils rich in organic matter are also a desirable environment for symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi that assist blueberry roots in absorbing water,...

Choosing a Variety

Blueberries are members of the genus Vaccinium and belong to the Rhododendron family Ericaceae . The Vaccinium genus contains several species of economic importance. The highbush blueberry Vaccinium corymbosum is the most widely cultivated, grown from the Mid-Atlantic to California, Oregon, and Washington, and from the Upper Midwest to the Mid-South. The lowbush wild blueberry V. angustifolium is adapted to the far North and is commercially important in Maine, Eastern Canada, and parts of New...

Attra

National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service Abstract Blueberries are the most widely grown fruit crop in the U.S. Blueberries are well-suited to organic culture, and good markets exist for organically grown blueberries. This production guide addresses key aspects of organic blueberry production, including soils and fertility, cultural considerations, pests, and diseases, as well as marketing. Additional resources are provided for further investigation. By George L. Kuepper and Steve...

Interrow Management

Blueberries do not have extensive root systems. As a result, clean cultivation of row middles to control weeds and to incorporate cover crops is less damaging to blueberries than it is to bramble fruits. Still, it is wise to till no deeper than 3 inches. Similarly, inter-row living mulches also called sodded middles generally are not competitive with the crop unless the inter-row species are aggressive and invade the rows. Fescue is commonly used in the Mid-South for sodded middles, as are...

Bird and Rodent Control

Birds are a common pest of blueberries. Their impact varies, depending on location and bird density. Oregon reported up to 60 crop loss from birds. Main et al., circa 2000 In a Florida study Main et al., circa 2000 , blueberries protected with bird netting yielded the same as those unprotected. Various methods of control have been tried including scare-eye balloons, Mylar reflective tape, and sonic devices with varying levels of success. The problem with most repellents or scare tactics is that...

Diseases

Diseases in plants occur when a pathogen is present, the host is susceptible, and the environment is favorable for the disease to develop. Changing one of these three factors may prevent the disease from occurring. Pathogens responsible for blueberry diseases include fungi, bacteria, nematodes, and viruses. If these pathogens are present, manipulation of the environment and the host, to make it less susceptible, help to manage diseases on blueberries in a more sustainable manner. Check with...

Insect Pests

Rabbiteye blueberries seem more tolerant of insect damage than highbush varieties. Although insect damage in blueberry plantings rarely reaches economic thresholds, regular monitoring by scouting and use of insect traps is advised. As discussed in the previous section, the use of beneficial insect habitats along crop field borders increases the presence of beneficial insects. If you are releasing purchased beneficial insects, these field-edge habitats will encourage them to remain and continue...