Submitted to: Acta Horticulturae
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/31/2007
Publication Date: 6/1/2008
Citation: Bryla, D.R., Strik, B.C. 2008. Water requirements of young blueberry plants irrigated by sprinklers, microsprays, and drip. Acta Horticulturae. 792:135-139.
Interpretive Summary: Most commercial highbush blueberry fields in the U.S. are irrigated by overhead sprinklers or drip, although a few growers are also testing microsprays. The objective of the present study was to compare the water requirements for growing young blueberry plants with overhead sprinklers, microsprays, and drip, and determine which method produces the most growth after planting. During the first two years after planting, plants irrigated by drip were largest and required only half the water for maximum growth as those irrigated by sprinklers or microsprays. Drip irrigation concentrated more water near the plants, thereby improving the growth conditions. Our next step, as the field matures, is to start cropping the plants and begin examining the effects of different irrigation methods on fruit production in blueberry.
Technical Abstract: A study was done to determine the effects of irrigation method on water use by young northern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L. 'Elliott'). Plants were irrigated by overhead sprinkler, microspray, or drip at 50, 100, and 150% of the estimated crop evapotranspiration (ETc) requirement. During the first two years after planting, plants irrigated by drip were larger and required only half the water for maximum shoot production as those irrigated by sprinklers or microsprays, using 203 mm (Jul.-Sept.) the first year and 376 mm (Apr.-Sept.) the following year. Overall, shoot dry weight was highest when plants were irrigated at 100% ETc by drip. The benefit of drip was likely due to higher soil water content in this treatment, which probably enhanced plant water status over the other two irrigation methods.