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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ARCTIC AND SUBARCTIC PLANT GENETIC RESOURCES CONSERVATION, RESEARCH, AND INFORMATION MANAGEMENT Title: Highbush and Half-high Blueberry Trials on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula

Authors
item Barney, Danny
item Hummer, Kim

Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 31, 2011
Publication Date: September 1, 2011
Citation: Barney, D.L., Hummer, K.E. 2011. Highbush and Half-high Blueberry Trials on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula. HortScience. p. S282.

Interpretive Summary: While cultivation of domestic small fruits and harvesting of wild, native small fruits are popular in Alaska, little research has been published on the adaptability of highbush and half-high blueberries in southcentral Alaska. Although the area is subject to harsh winters and a short growing season, summer conditions are relatively mild with daylength ranging from 14 to 19 hours during June-August. In June 2009, three highbush and six half-high blueberry cultivars were planted in replicated blocks on two commercial farms near Kenai, Alaska, approximately 106 kilometers southwest of Anchorage. Despite limited snow cover, prolonged freezing air temperatures as low as -32 oC, and soils remaining frozen for 6 months at a time, all of the plants survived. Fall frost damage and winter freezing/desiccation injury were common and ranged from mild to severe, depending on cultivar. Despite frost and winter damage to shoots and canes, fruit set and quality beginning in 2010 were good, with ripening taking place late in the season. Harvestable crops were produced on ‘Northblue’ and ‘Northsky’ cultivars 14-15 months after planting. Based on plant survival and productivity, selected half-high and highbush blueberries appear to offer opportunities for small-acreage production on the Kenai Peninsula targeting local, direct markets and food processors, as well as for home production.

Technical Abstract: While cultivation of domestic small fruits and harvesting of wild, native small fruits are popular in Alaska, little research has been published on the adaptability of highbush and half-high blueberries in southcentral Alaska. Although the area is subject to harsh winters and a short growing season, summer conditions are relatively mild with daylength ranging from 14 to 19 hours during June-August. In June 2009, three highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) and six half-high (V. corymbosum X V. angustifolium) blueberry cultivars were planted in replicated blocks on two commercial farms near Kenai, Alaska, approximately 106 kilometers southwest of Anchorage. Despite limited snow cover, prolonged freezing air temperatures as low as -32 oC, and soils remaining frozen for 6 months at a time, all of the plants survived. Fall frost damage and winter freezing/desiccation injury were common and ranged from mild to severe, depending on cultivar. Despite frost and winter damage to shoots and canes, fruit set and quality beginning in 2010 were good, with ripening taking place late in the season. Harvestable crops were produced on ‘Northblue’ and ‘Northsky’ cultivars 14-15 months after planting. Based on plant survival and productivity, selected half-high and highbush blueberries appear to offer opportunities for small-acreage production on the Kenai Peninsula targeting local, direct markets and food processors, as well as for home production.

Last Modified: 4/24/2014
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