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Blueberry Production

Joe Masabni
UKREC
Princeton, KY
Joe Masabni

Blueberries

Excellent
E
ll t market
k t potential
t ti l
Limited acreage now in KY
B i will
Berries
ill hold
h ld for
f 10 days
d
on the
th bush
b h
Will keep for 2 weeks in refrigerated storage
Plants are long lived
Limited spray schedule
Plants very hardy
Crop consistent from year to year

Joe Masabni

Blueberry Production Needs

Good site
G
Low soil pH
Organic mulch source
Irrigation
g
Pest control, birds, including wild turkeys,
deer,, and rabbits
Market

Joe Masabni

Joe Masabni

Blueberry Types

Lowbush
Northern Highbush
Southern Highbush
Rabbiteye
y

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Lowbush
o bus
Blueberry

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Lowbush
o bus
Blueberry

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Wild
Highbush
Blueberry
Joe Masabni

Northern
N
th
Hi
Highbush
hb h
BlueberryJoe Masabni

Rabbiteye
Blueberry

Joe Masabni

Site Selection
Good
G
air drainage
High elevation

Good internal soil drainage


p
Soil Depth
Minimum of 24 inches

Soil pH acid (4.5


(4.5-5.2)
5.2)

Joe Masabni

Desirable Fruit Characteristics


Large size

Light blue color


Firm fruit
Small dry
y fruit scar

Resistance to
cracking
Long shelf life
Nice aroma and
flavor
Ability to hold on
plant without dropping

Joe Masabni

Blueberry Variety Selection


Varieties differ
ff as to when they ripen, so
proper selection will provide a continuous
supply
l off fresh
f
h berries
b i throughout
th
h t the
th fruiting
f iti
season.
Each
E h variety
i t will
ill usually
ll supply
l fruit
f it for
f a 2-3
23
week period.
As
A a rule,
l blueberries
bl b i ripen
i
60 to
t 80 days
d
after
ft
bloom.

Joe Masabni

Joe Masabni

Blueberry Variety Selection


S
Spring frost
f
hardiness is based on floral
f
developmental stage.
Earlier maturing varieties bloom earlier than
later maturing varieties and are consequently
more prone to
t frost
f
t injury.
i j
Blueberries can withstand 28 F at full bloom.

Joe Masabni

Purchasing Plants
P
Purchase
h
two-year-old
t
ld bare
b
roott or potted
tt d
plants.
Purchase from reputable nurseries that
practice virus testing.
Blueberry viruses can destroy a planting if they
are brought in.
Plant more than one variety to provide for
cross pollination and group varieties by
ripening date to make harvest easier.

Joe Masabni

Blueberry Yields, UKREC

Variety
Sierra
Nelson
Duke
Toro
Bluecrop
Bluegold
Sunrise
Patriot

Cum. Yield
1995-2003
(lb/bush)

Yield 2003
(lb/bush)

Yield 2003
(T/A)

78.5
76.3
75.7
75.7
74.8
73.0
52.6
50.1

17.6
17.0
15.8
18.3
18.3
22.5
15.8
15.9

6.8
6.6
6.1
7.1
7.1
6.5
6.1
6.2

Joe Masabni

Blueberry Trials, Laurel Fork, 2002


Age:
Yield
Berry
6 yr-old (lb/bush) Size
Bluecrop
48
4.8
M

Taste
B

Appearance
A+

Nelson

4.6

A+

Bl j
Bluejay

46
4.6

Blueray

3.7

BS

Toro

3.3

A+

Sierra

3.2

A+

Ornablue

3.1

BS

Patriot

3.1

S-M

Brigitta

3.1

Joe Masabni

Blueberry Trials, Quicksand, 2002


Age:
ge
Yield
ed
Berry
e y
6 yr-old (lb/bush) Size
g
5.6
L
Brigitta

Taste
ST

Appearance
A+

Blueray

3.8

ST

A+

Ozarkblue

3.8

ST

A+

Toro

3.2

SB

A+

Reka

25
2.5

ST

Bluejay

2.4

SB

Sierra

23
2.3

ML

ST

A+

Patriot

2.2

ST

A+

Bl
Bluecrop

18
1.8

SB

A
A+

Joe Masabni

Blueberry Varieties for Kentucky


(In order of ripening)

Duke
Spartan
Patriot
Bluejay
j y
Ozarkblue (S. H.)
Sierra
Bluecrop

Joe Masabni

Bluegold
Toro
Nelson
Brigitta
g
Darrow
Elliott

Duke
Joe Masabni

Spartan
Joe Masabni

Patriot

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Bluejay

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Bluecrop

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BlueGold

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Toro

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Nelson

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Darrow
Joe Masabni

Soil Fertility & pH (4.5-5.2)


If the
th soil
il calcium
l i
level
l
l is
i below
b l
2,500
2 500 lb/A then
th
the soil pH can be economically lowered with
sulfur.
sulfur
Submit soil samples for potential sites through
your local county extension office.
Based on the soil sample analysis broadcast
g and S and plow
p
this in
needed P,, K,, Mg
preferably at least 2 months before planting.

Joe Masabni

Amending Soil to Reduce the pH*


by 1 full unit
Soil Texture

Sulfur
(lb/100 sq ft)

Aluminum Sulfate
(lb/100 sq ft)

Light sandy

0 78
0.78

45
4.5

Medium sandy
loam

1.50

9.0

Heavy clay loam

2.25

13.5

*B
Based
d on soilil sample
l water
t pH
H
Joe Masabni

Planting
Plant in late fall or early spring
If possible run rows in a North-South
North South direction
with crosswalks every 200-300 for U-Pick
operations.
p
Subsoil each row and if the soil is heavy,
prepare a raised bed (6-8 inches high) prior to
planting.
Plant rows far enough apart to accommodate
equipment.
i
t
Recommend 9-14 between rows and 4-6
between plants.
plants
Joe Masabni

Planting Holes
Plants set in deep narrow holes produce more
fruit (UI, Urbana Champaign,1991).
Holes are dug by hand or with a tractor
mounted auger.
They are 18 diameter and 24 deep.
Soil from holes is mixed 50/50 with moist peat
moss at planting.
It is thought that the deeper holes reduce plant
stress.
Do not put fertilizer in the hole at planting as it
will burn the roots.

Joe Masabni

Planting
Blueberries grow best on soils that have a
higher organic matter content.
Standard recommendations are to mix 1 gallon
of moist peat moss with the soil in the bottom
of the hole prior to planting.
One
O 6 cu ft b
bale
l off peatt moss will
ill do
d 45 plants.
l t
Water plants to settle soil around the root
system.
system
Do not substitute sawdust, hay or compost for
the peat as this will stunt or slowly
y kill y
your
plants.

Joe Masabni

Joe Masabni

Mulching
Mulch should be applied to a depth off 4-6
inches and reapplied when it rots to a depth of
3 iinches.
h
Remulching is necessary every year or two.
Blueberry roots grow at the mulch/soil
interface and if the mulch decomposes too
much
h and
d is
i nott replaced
l
d the
th roots
t will
ill be
b
exposed.
Mulch is applied in a 3-4 wide band down the
row.
Joe Masabni

Mulching
Mulch moderates soil temperature, conserves
moisture, releases nutrients, and helps with
weed
d control.
t l
Producing plants are generally mulched after
h
harvest
t to
t avoid
id removing
i blossoms
bl
and
d fruit
f it
during application.
Woodchips,
W d hi
sawdust,
d t pine
i needles,
dl
ground
d
corn cobs, and straw

Joe Masabni

Joe Masabni

7 yrs old
no mulch
Joe Masabni

4 yrs old
with mulch
Joe Masabni

Mulch
Spreader
Joe Masabni

Too Early to
Bear
Joe Masabni

Masabni
Good Time to RemoveJoeFlowers
on Young Plants

Fertilization
Sidedress at bloom and 6 weeks later with 0.1
lb of ammonium sulfate per bush each time.
Increase the amount of ammonium sulfate by
0 1 lb each year until 0
0.1
0.3
3 lb of ammonium
sulfate is being applied per bush per
application.
li ti

Joe Masabni

Fertilization
Be careful to apply fertilizer completely around
each bush as little lateral transport of nutrients
occurs from one side of the bush to the other.
If you mulch with wood chips or sawdust,
sawdust
plants may need additional N at the rate of 0.1
lb off ammonium
i
sulfate
lf t per plant
l t for
f the
th first
fi t
few years.

Joe Masabni

Osmocote Plus 15-9-12


(5-6 months)
N
N,P,K,
P K Mg,
M Fe,
F Mn,
M Cu,
C Mo,
M and
dB
Two sources of Fe
Apply 2 oz/plant:
Mar., Apr, May, Jun. and Jul.

Premium Horticultural Supply, Inc., Louisville


Phone (502)582-3897

Joe Masabni

Bud Swell

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Green Tip

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Bud Break

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Full Bloom

Joe Masabni

Bumble Bee Pollinating

Joe Masabni

Flower CrossSection

Joe Masabni

Pollination
Recommend
R
d 2 hives
hi
off honeybees
h
b
per acre

Fruit with more seeds tend to be larger


No
N variety
i t should
h ld be
b separated
t d by
b more than
th 2
rows from a variety with a similar bloom or fruit
maturity period
period.
Move the bees into the field after blooms have
begun to open.
When temperatures are in the 70s and 80soF,
pollination will be adequate
p
q
if you
y
see 4-8 bees
per bush.

Joe Masabni

Pruning
Remove any diseased or injured wood.
Remove some of the less vigorous canes at
ground level or cut these back to young shoots
t that
to
th t the
th bush
b h never has
h canes that
th t are over
5-6 years old
Weak, brushy or twiggy wood should also be
removed.
removed

Joe Masabni

Pruning
Up to 20% of the wood in a bush can be
removed without decreasing
g yields.
y
The number of berries will be decreased, but
th size
the
i off the
th b
berries
i will
ill be
b increased.
i
d
Most g
growers do not let bushes get
g taller than
6 feet.

Joe Masabni

Neglected Bush

Joe Masabni

Joe Masabni

Unpruned (left) and Pruned (right)


Joe Masabni

Desirable Pruning
Joe Masabni

Remove Dead Wood


Joe Masabni

Joe Masabni

Pruning
Regular pruning is necessary to establish
plants and to develop vigorous plants that
produce
d
consistent
i t t crops off large
l
berries.
b i
Pruning may be done from leaf drop in the fall
t bud
to
b d break
b
k in
i the
th spring.
i

Joe Masabni

Fe Deficiency

Joe Masabni

Fe Deficiency

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Fe Deficiency

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Mn Deficiency
pH 3.6

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N Deficiency

Joe Masabni

Harvest
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U-Pick
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Pre-Picked

Joe Masabni

Blueberry Harvest
Fruit should be dry when harvested.
Remove ripe berries with the thumb and
forefinger, keeping the hand cupped under the
berry to avoid dropping it.
The whitish bloom on the fruit should not be
rubbed off.
Buckets should be no larger than 5 quarts and
be rigid to reduce mashing and berry heating.
The number off pickings per variety can vary
from 3-7.
Joe Masabni

Blueberry Harvest
Most commercial operations pick a field once
per week.
Under normal conditions blueberries may
remain on the bush for up to 10 days
y after
ripening without a loss in size.
Blueberries will develop blue color both in the
light and dark at a suitable temperature. Color
development is best at 70-80
70 80oF.
F

Joe Masabni

Rules for Blueberry Pickers


Keep your hands clean.
clean
Pick all ripe blueberries on the bush before
moving on to the next bush.
Harvest only well-ripened fruit and leave
immature fruit for the next harvest.
Place hands under clusters to avoid dropping
berries.
Avoid overfilling your hands; do not squeeze
or roll the fruit.
Do not put trash or cull berries into the
container.
Never allow harvested fruit to remain in the
sun.
Joe Masabni

Blueberry Storage
Fresh blueberries keep best at 32oF & 85%
%
relative humidity.
Packaged blueberries will hold with 5% waste
for:
2 weeks at 32oF
1 week at 40oF
2 days at 70oF

Joe Masabni

Propagation

Joe Masabni

Hardwood cuttings
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Propagated
Cuttings

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1 Year
Old

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2Y
Year Old
Ideal for
Purchase

Joe Masabni

Joe Masabni