Submitted to: Experiment Station Bulletins
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/1/2009
Publication Date: 5/1/2009
Citation: Hunt, J.F., Honeycutt, C.W., Yarborough, D. 2009. Guide to efficient irrigation of the wild blueberry. Experiment Station Bulletins. On-Line publication. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Irrigation can significantly increase yield of wild blueberry, even in the relatively cool, humid Northeast U.S. However, growers need accurate information on how to optimize water use efficiency in their irrigation practices. Adding insufficient water or postponing irrigation until signs of crop stress are noticeable, can lead to plant injury and reduced yield. Conversely, excess water application results in unnecessary pumping expenses and may lead to leaching pesticides or plant nutrients out of the root zone and into ground or surface water. Efficient irrigation management requires being able to effectively forecast crop water needs a few days before the demand becomes critical, and then to apply just enough water to meet those needs. This is relatively simple to do through regular monitoring of crop water use and available soil water. This guideline illustrates in a step-by-step manner how to improve irrigation efficiency without the need for expensive monitoring equipment. Examples are provided on how to quantify crop water use, calculate evapotranspiration rates, make and interpret soil water measurements, and calculate a water budget. Information presented in this guide will help improve water use efficiency for wild blueberry, thereby enhancing sustainability of production in concert with the environment.