Plant Spacing

Highbush blueberries are typically spaced 4 to 4Vi feet in the row, with 8 to 12 feet between rows. As bushes can get quite large at maturity, many growers find that 10- to 12-foot row spacings — approximately 900 to 1090 plants per acre—are preferable for tractor operations (mowing, harvesting, and spraying). Rabbiteyes are typically spaced at 5 to 8 feet within a row, with 12 to 14 feet between the rows, or 388 to 726 plants per acre.

Dr. J.N. Moore and others at the University of Arkansas have experimented with denser within-row plant spacings for highbush blueberries, effectively doubling the number of plants per acre. Yields during the first five years after planting were found to be substantially higher (a boon to the overall economics of blueberry produc-tion—especially where growers have made high investments in drip irrigation and bird netting).

These researchers have been careful to point out, however, that beyond the fifth year, inter-plant competition may create problems, requiring removal of every other plant in the row.(Pritts and Hancock, 1992) Fortunately, highbush blueberries transplant easily, and removed bushes can be used to establish a new field.

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