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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Corvallis, Oregon » Horticultural Crops Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #177603

Title: WATER REQUIREMENTS OF HIGHBUSH BLUEBERRY PLANTED AT NORMAL AND HIGH DENSITY SPACINGS

Author
item Bryla, David
item STRIK, BERNADINE

Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/20/2005
Publication Date: 7/1/2005
Citation: Bryla, D.R., Strik, B.E. 2005. Water requirements of highbush blueberry planted at normal and high density spacings. Hortscience.40(4):1058-1059.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Many growers in the Pacific Northwest are planting blueberry fields at higher densities to improve yields and increase the number of berries harvested per acre in the first few years after planting. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of high-density planting on blueberry water requirements. Although close spacing reduces individual plant size, we expected that plants spaced closer together would require more irrigation per unit land area than those spaced further apart due to increased canopy coverage within rows. The study utilized a 5 year-old planting of highbush blueberry, consisting of three cultivars, Duke, Bluecrop, and Elliott, planted at 0.5 and 1.2 m in-row spacings. Plant water use was calculated from changes in soil water content measured using TDR probes for shallow depths and a neutron probe and access tubes for deeper depths. Stem water potentials were also measured periodically using a pressure chamber to determine how well irrigation was meeting crop water demands throughout the season. Surprisingly, plants spaced 0.5 m apart required only slightly more water than those spaced 1.2 m apart. They did, however, require more frequent irrigations due to their smaller root systems, especially during fruit filling. Water use by each cultivar increased during fruit filling and then rapidly decreased after harvest. Duke required the most water among cultivars, using 5-10 mm/day from mid-May to mid-August, while Elliott required the least using 3-5 mm/day.