Submitted to: Acta Horticulturae
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 8, 2008
Publication Date: September 5, 2008
Citation: Marshall, D.A., Spiers, J.M. 2008. Establishment of Rabbiteye Blueberries in Poultry Litter. Acta Horticulturae (ISHS). 810:723-728. Interpretive Summary: Poultry litter is abundant in the Southeast where there is an expanding blueberry industry. In other crops such as cotton and grass, poultry litter fertilization has increased yields and growth. This study was conducted to determine if rabbiteye blueberries ‘Tifblue’ and ‘Premier’ could be established using incorporated chicken or poultry litter as an organic matter and fertilization source. From the results obtained from this study, blueberry growers wishing to utilize available poultry litter on the blueberry plants should use at or below 4.4 L/1.5 m of row length and plant the blueberries within 4 months of incorporating the poultry litter. Incorporated poultry litter did not benefit plant growth when used during establishment of blueberry plants.
Technical Abstract: Poultry litter is abundant in the Southeast where there is also a growing blueberry production. Poultry litter has been used for fertilization of other crops such as cotton and grass with increased yields and growth. This study was conducted to determine if rabbiteye blueberries ‘Tifblue’ and ‘Premier’ could be established using incorporated chicken or poultry litter. Two-year old potted ‘Tifblue’ and ‘Premier’ rabbiteye blueberries were planted in a Ruston fine sandy loam soil (Typic Paleudult, fine-loamy, siliceous, thermic) utilizing a split plot design with incorporated poultry litter fertilizer rates as the main plot and a 3 (planting dates) X 2 (cultivar) completely randomized factorial design as the sub-plot. Rows were formed with 1.5 m x 3.5 m spacing. Fertilizer was applied at rates of 0, 4.4, 13.2, and 39.6 liters CPL/1.5 m of row). Composted poultry litter rates of 4.4 liters/1.5 m row consistently preformed as well as the control plots that received no fertilization. Plants that were set into higher rates 13.2 and 39.6 L of poultry litter had a significantly lower vigor in 2005. Both ‘Tifblue’ and ‘Premier’ plants were weaker in 2006 than in 2005. We do not recommend using CPL as an establishment practice with blueberries.