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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Determining Impact of Soil Environment and Root Function on Horticultural Crop Productivity and Quality

Location: Horticultural Crops Research

Title: Effects of salinity induced by ammonium sulfate fertilizer on root and shoot growth of highbush blueberry

item Machado, Rui
item Bryla, David

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/12/2012
Publication Date: 6/17/2012
Citation: Machado, R., Bryla, D.R. 2012. Effects of salinity induced by ammonium sulfate fertilizer on root and shoot growth of highbush blueberry. Meeting Abstract. Meeting booklet.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Ammonium sulfate fertilizer is commonly used in highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.), but due to a high salt index, it often causes salt damage, particularly in young plants, when too much of the fertilizer is applied. A study was done to determine the sensitivity of blueberry to ammonium sulfate and identify the salinity threshold in which plant growth is affected by the fertilizer. One-year-old ‘Bluecrop’ blueberry plants were transplanted from 0.5-L pots to 8-L pots filled with a 1:1 (v/v) mixture of peat and pine bark and fertilized with four rates of 0, 0.25, 0.75, and 1.5 g/L ammonium sulfate solution. Each solution was applied 2-3 times per week as needed for a total of 8 weeks. Electrical conductivity of the solutions (ECw) increased linearly with fertilizer rate and averaged 0.1, 0.5, 1.5, and 3.0 dS/m, respectively. Fertilizer rate had no effect on total shoot dry weight but significantly affected new root dry weight and partitioning of shoot biomass. Plants fertilized with 1.5 g/L ammonium sulfate produced less roots and had a lower leaf to stem dry weight ratio than those fertilized with 0 or 0.25 g/L, which indicates that root and leaf growth in blueberry was sensitive to ECw between 1.5 and 3.0 dS/m. In the field, fertilizer programs and practices (e.g., fertigation) that maintain ECw in soil solution < 1.5 dS/m are recommended for rapid establishment of highbush blueberry.

Last Modified: 06/24/2017
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