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Research Project: Integrated Water and Nutrient Management Systems for Sustainable and High-Quality Production of Temperate Fruit and Nursery Crops

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Title: Evaluation of potting media for soilless cultivation of southern highbush blueberry

item KINGSTON, PATRICK - Oregon State University
item Scagel, Carolyn
item Bryla, David
item STRICK, BERNADINE - Oregon State University

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/23/2015
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Growing blueberry plants in containers for fruit production allows producers to overcome issues with poor soil quality, such as high pH and salinity, and enables blueberry production in more diverse climates. The objective of the present study was to test various soilless substrates for container blueberry production. Plugs of ‘Snowchaser’ southern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium sp. hybrid) were grown in a greenhouse with supplemental lighting for 4 months in 4.4-L containers filled with one of 10 substrates, each with different proportions of sphagnum peat moss, coco coir, and aged douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) bark. Perlite (10% by volume) was added to each mix for drainage. Additionally, a calcinated clay substrate (Turface), containing no organic matter, and a commercial nursery substrate were evaluated. Plants were fertigated, as needed, with a nutrient solution followed by irrigation with clean water to achieve a goal of 25% drain (by volume). The electrical conductivity of the drain solution ranged from 0.093 to 1.73 dS•m-1 over the course of the study, depending on treatment. Total plant biomass was similar among the treatments at 2 months after planting but was greater in substrates containing 60% to 90% peat moss or coir (by volume) than in those with 60% to 90% bark at 4 months after planting. Plants grown in Turface and the nursery substrate performed similar to plants in the best treatments containing coir and peat moss. Treatments containing high proportions of bark performed poorly. Additionally, there were no differences in plant biomass observed between peat moss and coir, suggesting both may be suitable substrates for soilless production of ‘Snowchaser’.