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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: Blueberry Trials on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula: First Year Report

Authors
item Barney, Danny
item Hummer, Kim

Submitted to: Extension Reports
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: March 25, 2011
Publication Date: March 25, 2011
Citation: Barney, D.L., Hummer, K.E. 2011. Blueberry Trials on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula: First Year Report. Extension Reports. http://www.ars.usda.gov/Main/docs.htm?docid=19218.

Interpretive Summary: This project report details the establishment and first year results of highbush and half-high blueberry trials on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula. In June 2009, 9 plants each of three highbush and six half-high blueberry cultivars were planted at test plots on two commercial farms on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. The purpose of the trials was to determine if domestic blueberry plants could survive and produce crops in Southcentral Alaska. In October 2010, after 16 months in the fields, all of the 180 plants on both sites survived and most showed good growth, vigor, and health, despite chronic frost and midwinter freezing. During the 2009-2010 winter-months, no cover protection or snow fencing was provided for the plants. Much frost and/or freezing damage to canes was noted during evaluations in May and June 2010, although the main crown of each plant was uninjured. Whether the damage occurred during fall 2009 or later during the winter could not be determined. New shoots appeared during the 2010 growing season. Flowering and fruiting appeared to be reduced on the upper branches due to desiccation or cold injury. Cultivar fruiting differences were noted. Preliminary results suggest that the short-growing half-high ‘Northblue’ produced the most fruit of the cultivars tested, about 0.7 kg (1.5 pounds) per plant, and was particularly promising for the area. In August 2010, bird-netting was installed above the plants to trap and maintain protective snow cover during the subsequent winter. Data collection on plant survival, health, yield, and fruit quality will continue through April 2014. Production costs will be calculated and reported. Cultural management protocols will be suggested.

Technical Abstract: In June 2009, 9 plants each of three highbush and six half-high blueberry cultivars were planted at test plots on two commercial farms on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula. The purpose of the trials was to determine if domestic blueberry plants could survive and produce crops in Southcentral Alaska. In October 2010, after 16 months in the fields, all of the 180 plants on both sites survived and most showed good growth, vigor, and health, despite chronic frost and midwinter freezing. During the 2009-2010 winter-months, no cover protection or snow fencing was provided for the plants. Much frost and/or freezing damage to canes was noted during evaluations in May and June 2010, although the main crown of each plant was uninjured. Whether the damage occurred during fall 2009 or later during the winter could not be determined. New shoots appeared during the 2010 growing season. Flowering and fruiting appeared to be reduced on the upper branches due to desiccation or cold injury. Cultivar fruiting differences were noted. Preliminary results suggest that the short-growing half-high "Northblue" produced the most fruit of the cultivars tested, about 0.7 kg (1.5 pounds) per plant, and was particularly promising for the area. In August 2010, bird-netting was installed above the plants to trap and maintain protective snow cover during the subsequent winter. Data collection on plant survival, health, yield, and fruit quality will continue through April 2014. Production costs will be calculated and reported. Cultural management protocols will be suggested.

Last Modified: 9/20/2014
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