Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/29/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Southern highbush blueberries offer the potential for early fruit production in the Gulf States. This type of blueberry is not as vigorous as the rabbiteye which makes up the majority of acreage presently planted in the region. In this study, four cultural practices; level bed height, high irrigation rate, soil incorporated peatmoss, and mulching, were found to increase plant growth and fruit yields of 'Gulfcoast' southern highbush blueberry. Of these four practices, mulching was the most important and should be considered essential in the establishment and early growth of southern highbush blueberries.
Technical Abstract: In a field study, 'Gulfcoast' southern highbush blueberry plants were subjected to irrigation [7.5 liters per week (low) or 30 liters per week (high)], mulching (none or 15 cm height), row height (level or raised 15 cm), and soil incorporated peatmoss (none or 15 liters in each planting hole) treatments at establishment. Plants were grown on a well-drained fine sandy loam soil that contained < 1.0% organic matter. Plant volume and fruit yield were increased by either mulching, high irrigation, incorporated peatmoss or level beds. Plants grown with the combination of mulching, level beds, incorporated peatmoss, and high irrigation levels yielded 2.4 kg per plant or approximately 8 times more than plants grown without mulch, with raised beds, without peatmoss, and with the low rate of irrigation. Of the 4 establishment practices evaluated, mulching had the greatest influence on plant growth and fruiting.