Pruning Severity Affects Yield, Berry Weight, and Hand Harvest Efficiency of Highbush Blueberry

in HortScience

The following pruning treatments were studied in mature `Bluecrop' (1996-2000) and `Berkeley' (1996-98) plants: 1) “conventional” pruning with removal of unproductive canes, thinning of 1-year-old shoots at the base of the bush, and removal of any unproductive wood or thinning of excessive fruiting wood near the top of the bush, as required; 2) “speed” pruning involving removal of one or two of the most unproductive canes at the base of the bush; and 3) “un-pruned” where no pruning was done for the length of this study. Conventional pruning took an average of 6.4 min/plot, while speed pruning saved 88.8% time. There was no pruning treatment effect on the percentage of fruit buds in `Berkeley' (42%) or `Bluecrop' (34%) or percent fruit set (70% to 90%, depending on cultivar and year) in any year. Un-pruned plants of both cultivars had significantly greater yield than conventionally pruned plants, depending on the year, while speed pruning generally resulted in intermediate yields. Un-pruned and speed-pruned plants produced berries that were 19% to 27% smaller than conventionally pruned plants, depending on year. The fruit harvest season of un-pruned plants began 3 to 5 days later and lasted a week longer than that of conventionally pruned plants. The harvest efficiency of un-pruned plants was reduced as much as 51% in the later years of this study and was most closely correlated with berry weight. Conventionally pruned plants had a significantly higher percentage of the above-ground dry weight allocated to 1-year-old wood and crown than un-pruned plants. In `Bluecrop', N concentration tended to be higher in the crown of conventionally pruned plants than in un-pruned or speed-pruned plants. Conventionally pruned `Bluecrop' plants had significantly higher concentrations of K and P and lower N than un-pruned plants and `Berkeley' had lower concentrations of N, than un-pruned plants. Results indicate that not pruning mature plants may be an option in the short-term, but may have undesirable effects for long-term sustainability.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

Article Information

Google Scholar

Related Content

Article Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 61 61 40
PDF Downloads 28 28 15