Improved Growth and Harvestable Yield through Optimization of Fertilizer Rates of Soil-applied Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium in Wild Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait.)

in HortScience

The study examined the main and interactive effects of soil-applied fertilizers [nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K)] from a 12-year (six production cycles) field experiment conducted at Kemptown, Nova Scotia (Canada). It also recommends the optimum rate for improved growth and harvestable yield of wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait.). The fertilizers were applied in a single application at the onset of shoot emergence in early spring of each sprout year at rates of 0, 12, 30, 48, and 60 kg·ha−1 N using urea (2000 only) or ammonium sulfate, 0, 18, 45, 78, and 90 kg·ha−1 P using triple super phosphate, 0, 12, 30, 48, and 60 kg·ha−1 K using potassium chloride. Response surface analysis of the data indicated that 35 kg·ha−1 N, 40 kg·ha−1 P, and 30 kg·ha−1 K were optimum for fruit production and maintaining stem lengths <20 cm, and resulted in an average of 54% more floral buds, 25% more berries per stem, and 13% greater yield than previous recommend rates of 20 kg·ha−1 N, 10 kg·ha−1 P, and 15 kg·ha−1 K. The higher fertilizers rates cost an extra $80/ha but increased net profits by $490/ha. Findings of this study could contribute toward better farm profitability in areas with similar growing conditions. They also suggest that modifications to existing fertilizer rates be made for Central Nova Scotia wild blueberry.

Contributor Notes

Corresponding author. E-mail: maqbool.rizwan@dal.ca.

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    Response surface of stem length (cm): (A) the effect of nitrogen (kg·ha−1 N) and phosphorus (kg·ha−1 P) for potassium fixed at 30 kg·ha−1 K and (B) the effect of phosphorus (kg·ha−1 P) and potassium (kg·ha−1 K) for nitrogen fixed at 30 kg·ha−1 N.

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    Response surface of vegetative nodes (nodes per stem): the effect of nitrogen (kg·ha−1 N) and phosphorus (kg·ha−1 P) for potassium fixed at 30 kg·ha−1 K.

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    Response surface of floral nodes (nodes per stem): (A) the effect of nitrogen (kg·ha−1 N) and phosphorus (kg·ha−1 P) for potassium fixed at 30 kg·ha−1 K and (B) the effect of nitrogen (kg·ha−1 N) and potassium (kg·ha−1 K) for phosphorous fixed at 45 kg·ha−1 P.

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    Response surface of berries per stem: (A) the effect of nitrogen (kg·ha−1 N) and phosphorus (kg·ha−1 P) for potassium fixed at 30 kg·ha−1 K and (B) the effect of phosphorus (kg·ha−1 P) and potassium (kg·ha−1 K) for nitrogen fixed at 30 kg·ha−1 N.

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    Response surface of berry yield (kg·ha−1): the effect of nitrogen (kg·ha−1 N) and potassium (kg·ha−1 K) for phosphorus fixed at 45 kg·ha−1 P.

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    Overlaid contour plot of four response surface models: (A) the effect of nitrogen (kg·ha−1 N) and phosphorus (kg·ha−1 P) for potassium fixed at 30 kg·ha−1 K on stem length, floral nodes, berries per stem, and berry yield and (B) the effect of nitrogen (kg·ha−1 N) and potassium (kg·ha−1 K) for phosphorus fixed at 45 kg·ha−1 P on stem length, floral nodes, berries per stem, and berry yield. The white area is the “sweet spot” where the criteria of all four responses are fulfilled.

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