Submitted to: Journal Acta Horticulturae
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/2/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Cultural practices (drip irrigation, peatmoss incorporated in the soil, and mulching with pine bark) increase and regulate the distribution of root growth in southern highbush blueberries. Root growth was greatest in plant receiving all three practices and mulching produced better root growth than irrigation or incorporated peat moss. Mulched plants had a widely distributed and shallow root system while irrigation or incorporated peatmoss resulted in deeper roots concentrated near the plant crown. Root distribution appears to be regulated mainly by soil moisture conditions.
Technical Abstract: A field study was conducted to evaluate individual and collective influences of 3 soil moisture-supplementing practices (irrigation, incorporated peatmoss, and mulching) on root system development in 'Gulfcoast' southern highbush blueberries. Root growth was least in plants not mulched and greatest in plants receiving all three supplements. Ranking of individual treatments on root dry weight production was mulch > incorporated peatmoss = irrigation. Mulching resulted in uniform root distribution from the plant crown outward and in root growth concentrated in the upper 15 cm of soil. Other practices (peatmoss > irrigation) tended to concentrate the root system near the crown area and resulted (peatmoss = irrigation) in greater root depth. Soil moisture appeared to be the major factor influencing root distribution.