Smart Strategies For Growing Blueberries
Blueberries have earned the status of superfood and growing blueberries is becoming more popular every year. During the last 10 years both production and consumption of blueberries has doubled in the United States. What makes a food super? Mostly it is due to having low calories with high nutritional benefits, the best of both worlds. One study shows eating a cup of blueberries every week can speed up metabolism and lower blood pressure. A blueberry plant is a perennial flowering shrub that produces an indigo-color berry with a diameter size .20 -.60. This crop thrives in acidic soils with pH levels ranging from 4-5. It will often take a blueberry plant 6-8 years to reach full production and they grow as high as 10-ft. There needs to be between 120 – 160 growing degree-days for good yields. The U.S. is the largest producer of blueberries and harvests approximately 565M lbs. annually.
Key Growing Regions:
- High Bush (Cultivated): Michigan, Georgia, Washington, Oregon, California, British Columbia
- Low Bush (Wild): Maine
This will vary by region, but in the Pacific North West it is common to grow blueberries using the following strategies:
- Spacing: The plant spacing is generally 5-feet within row and 10-feet between rows. There are approximately 870 plants per acre. The width of the bed is 3-ft and it is 18” tall with a layer of sawdust to help with weed control and helps diffuse the water when it lands on the bed.
- Irrigation: Researchers have tried different methods to find the optimal type of irrigation. Drip irrigation has consistently proven to outperform sprinkler and micro-sprinkler applications in the Pacific North West. Most of the roots are grown in the top 18” of soil. The crop needs about 0.25 inches/day of water or 1.5 in/week during the summer months. This requires frequent short-cycle irrigation sets to provide adequate water without driving the oxygen from the soil. Drip irrigation has saved between 40-50% water applied compared to sprinkler and micro-sprinkler applications.
- Common Jain Irrigation products used:
- Aqualine – 18 & 20MM 18 and 24”sp .29GPH – single line
- Amnon – 18 & 20MM 18 and 24”sp .29GPH – single line
- Cascade—7/8” 15 & 25MIL 16 and 18”sp .22GPH – single/double line
- Chapin – 7/8” 15MIL 18 and 24”sp .30GPM/100’ – single/double line
You can enjoy blueberries raw by the handful or if you like here are some other great ways to enjoy them. Be sure to let us know your thoughts and ideas of how to enjoy them.