Blueberries

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  #1  
Old 04-10-02, 09:33 AM
pmg
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Blueberries

I purchased some blueberry plants,4 plants,all the same variety {blue crop}.Do I need to mix in other varieties for proper pollination?Do these need full sun?Acid loving?Any tips would help,thanks.
 
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  #2  
Old 04-13-02, 09:22 PM
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Growing blue crop blueberries

Blue crop is a highbush blueberry that grows to about 6 feet. Average yield is 10-20 lbs. 65 berries/cup. Before planting take a soil test, as they require a lower pH than other small fruit crops. Apply wettable sulfur (90%) if pH is above 5. Use 1 lb/100 SF to lower the PH 1 point in sandy soil. Use 2 lbs/100 SF in heavier soils. Try to have a pH of around 4.8. Soil should be tested and amended at least 4 mos. before planting.

If you must plant without a soil test, mix 1 cubic feet peat moss with equal part sand. If you have heavy clay soil that tends to stay wet, place the mixture on top the soil for planting. If you have good soil that drains well, put the mixture in a hole or furrow for the plants. You will need enough mixture to cover and mound or create a ridge around the plants at least 6 inches deep. This mixture keeps excess water away from plants, but it tends to dry out during dry weather so water 2-3 times a week. Soaker hose is best. Water no more often than every 2-3 days to avoid root rot.

Drainage is very important to growing blueberries. Site should be well-drained. You can dig a hole 6-8 inches deep and observe after a heavy rain. If water is still in the hole after 24 hours select another site or plant in ridges.

Maximum yield is in full sun. Highbush blueberries will survive cold winter temperatures in the mountains where it gets to -10% or more. Highbush, however, is affected by heat and drought. Highbush does not require more than one variety to cross pollinate. They do well in the mountains and Upper Piedmont.

Plant 4-5 feet apart. Plant as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. Late February/early March. Keep roots moist during transplanting. If mulching, plant the same depth as the nursery. If not mulching plant 2 inches deeper than soil level and pack soil around roots. If planting bare-root plants, prune back 2/3 of the top growth and 1/2 on potted plants. Leave only 1-3 of most vigorous upright stems. Remove all flower buds. You do not want plants to bloom the first year because you want them to focus on establishing roots and getting settled in.

Don't overfertilize. Highbush are sensitive about that. That's why the soil test is so important. Plants need at least 4" of rain or equivalent after fertilizing. Wait until leaves reach full size before fertilizing and use azalea fertilizer, spreading a circle around the plant 12" out from the plant. Do this every 6 weeks depending on the amount of water/rain (4") until mid-August on the Coast and mid-July in the mountains. If phosphorous was about 60 in the soil test use 1/2 tablespoon ammonium nitrate instead of the fertilizer for subsequent fertilizings.

The 2nd year, double the amount when you fertilize. Go 18" out from the plant to make the circle. Fertilize as soon as you see new growth.

Once plants start to bear, use 1 cup 10-10-10 in a circle 3' out when growth appears in the spring. On mature plants 6-12" of new growth is adequate for yield. Prune any additional growth. This may reduce yield, but you don't want the plants to get too large. If plants are not exhibiting vigorous growth, they can be sidedressed with 1/4 cup ammonium nitrate every 6 weeks.

If soil test showed pH to be high, side dress with ammonium sulfate not ammonium nitrate. 0.1 (1/10) lb per plant under the drip line will lower pH 1 unit.

Pine bark or pine straw are excellent mulches for plants that prefer slightly acid soil. Mulch helps conserve moisture and keep out weeds. Replace mulch 1" per year. Hand pull weeds. Roots grow very near the surface, so don't chop or hoe weeds deeper than 1".

If plants were properly pruned when planted, then little or no pruning needs to be done the 2nd year. Remove all buds the 2nd year and cut out any weak/damaged growth. Repeat the same pruning method the 3rd year, but leave a few buds on the strongest shoots. The 4th year, the plant should be 4-5' and large enough to handle a crop. Carefully thin buds to prevent overfruiting, weighing down of branches and damage. On mature plants cut out weak, damaged branches and shoots. Prune back to stimulate growth. Prune when plants are dormant (late winter). Thin flower buds 50% to prevent overfruiting.

Use netting to keep away the birds. Pick every 5-7 days.

(North Carolina Dept. of Agriculture Extension Service)

Your local Dept. of Agriculture Extension Agent is a wonderful source of free info on all aspects of gardening and lawn care.
 
  #3  
Old 04-15-02, 05:15 AM
pmg
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Well thanks for all the helpful info twelvepole.My plants are not of the highest quality{I didn't want to spend a fortune on premium plants and find out they won't grow in my yard}.They are currently about 6-8 inches tall,very thin stalks and stems.When I plant them should I prune most of this lanky growth back?
 
  #4  
Old 04-15-02, 08:43 AM
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Growing highbush blueberries

Healthy 2-3 year old plants perform best. Prune as instructed above, leaving the strongest stems. Soil condition, drainage, proper pruning and debudding are required. After 4-5 years, you will have blueberries if the proper care has been taken.
 
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Old 04-15-02, 08:46 AM
pmg
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Ok - thanks again for all the help!!
 
  #6  
Old 05-08-02, 05:00 AM
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pmg,
To answer part of your question with one word - YES.
You DO need a pollinator for your bluecrop blueberries.
Just purchase one other variety and plant near your bluecrops.
Since your plants are juveniles, your okay for a year or two.

fred
 
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