Blueberries can remain productive for many years with good soil and climate conditions and proper management.Consider the following when selecting and preparing sites for blueberries.
Blueberries can be successfully grown in many different kinds of soil. However, a well-drained soil with high organic matters is the best. The organic matter content should be at least 3% for good production. Incorporating sawdust or peat moss in the heavier soils before planting produces good results. Soil samples should be taken well in advance to check the pH level and other nutrients, so amendments can be made, if required, before planting.
Blueberries do best in acid soil with a pH range of 4.5 to 5.2. A pH outside this range can result in poor growth and yields. Soil pH below 4.0 can be raised by adding dolomite or ground limestone at 1 to 2 tons per acre. To lower the pH, incorporate elemental sulfur into the soil as required several months before planting.
Blueberries require soils that drain well throughout the year and hold adequate moisture for good plant growth during summer. Plants cannot withstand extended periods of flooding in the winter. The bushes can easily get injured while they are actively growing. A water table 30 to 60 cm (12 to 24 in.) below the soil surface is best for blueberry production. Install a drainage system before planting. Subsurface drainage pipes are installed 0.8 to 1.2 m (2.5 to 4 ft.) below the soil surface. Drainage systems only work well if they are designed, installed and maintained efficiently.
Blueberries have shallow roots. Most of the roots that take up nutrients and water are in the upper 16 inches of soil and within the dripline of the bush. Uniform and adequate moisture is necessary for good growth and yields. If the crop does not receive 2.5 to 4 cm a week by rainfall, irrigation is required. The most common systems are drip irrigation and overhead sprinkler system. The drip system, which is very popular for blueberries, now apply water to the base of the plants, and avoid wetting the fruit. This prevents fruit from being contaminated or stained with poor quality irrigation water, so that it does not get downgraded or rejected by the packers.
The field design should allow a minimum of 3.7 m (10 ft.) between the rows. A 4.5 to 5.0 m (15 to 16 ft.) wide row break should be allowed every 125 m (400 ft.). The posts for overhead irrigation should be 2.1 m (7 ft.) and placed in the center of the row. Plants should be planted on raised beds to reduce fruit drop during mechanical harvesting. The beds should be 20 cm (8 in.) high and 120 cm (47 in.) wide at the base. Raised beds are very beneficial for plant growth, especially in fields that are slower to drain.
Blueberries are normally planted in rows 10 to 12 feet apart and 2 ½ to 4 feet between plants, depending upon your harvesting plan.
See below for a chart that will help plan out your planting arrangement:
Rooted Cutting: Hardwood or softwood cuttings grown in greenhouse for one full season. These cuttings have about 3-6" top growth and the rootball of about 2.5"-3"diameter. Separated and packed in bundles of ten. Need to be grown for another season in 1 gallon containers or nursery beds before transplanting in the field. Very economical product for long distance shipping.
#1 Cell: Rooted microcutting, 4-8” high, started in greenhouse and hardened off outside. Ready to be transplanted in 1 gallon pot, or nursery bed. Sold in 72 plug trays.
7-12"Field Ready: Plants are grown in 1 liter pots or in nursery beds. Have nice, fibrous roots and can be transplanted in the field under ideal conditions. Usually need an extra year to start fruiting.
One Gallon Grow Bag: Our top of the line plants grown in 1 gallon poly grow bags. Ready for transplanting and establish very well in the field. Most of the growers like these plants for their very strong top growth and large root system. Very easy to handle and can be transplanted with very little shock to the roots. In most cases, these plants start producing in the second year. Sold in 12-18" and 18-30"sizes.
Bed Grown, Bareroot Plants: Our second most popular product. Plants are grown in soilless fumigated media. They have large, fibrous root system with strong top growth. Transplant very well. Bundled in tens with roots wrapped in stretch film for protection during storage and shipping. Sold in 7-12", 12-18", and 18-30"sizes.
Note: Some varieties may be slightly smaller in size due to bush growing habit.