Submitted to: Small Fruit Reviews
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/20/2003
Publication Date: 2/20/2004
Citation: Starr, G.C., Seymour, R.M., Yarborough, D. 2004. Yield and quality differences of lowbush blueberry (vaccinium angustifolium) in irrigated and rain-fed conditions. Small Fruit Reviews. 3: 273-283 Interpretive Summary: Lowbush blueberry growers desire a better understanding of how irrigation of their crop will affect crop yield and blueberry quality. This study compared wild blueberry yields and quality in irrigated vs. un-irrigated conditions during a two year cycle that included one extremely dry year (2001). The crop yield was 43% higher with irrigation than without, but some indicators showed the berries to be of lower quality in the irrigated plots. These results will be of interest to blueberry farmers, scientists, engineers, food processors, policymakers, and others with an interest in the yield and quality of the lowbush blueberry crop.
Technical Abstract: Growers desire a better understanding of the effect of irrigation on lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) crop yield and quality. A randomized block design of irrigated and rain-fed plots was established in a lowbush blueberry field near the coast of Maine. The irrigated plots averaged 43% higher yield than rain-fed plots for the 2000-01 production cycle. Irrigated plots had the highest yield three weeks after the highest yield for the rain-fed plots. Rain-fed berries had greater firmness, higher Brix solids and lower moisture content than irrigated berries for three different harvest dates. Berry size distribuion was not significantly different for treatments, but for different harvest dates the berry size distributions were significantly different.