189 Vegetation Management of Lowbush Blueberries

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  • 1 Department of Environmental Sciences, Nova Scotia Agricultural College, P.O. Box 550, Truro, Nova Scotia B2N 5E3
  • | 2 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

The influence of noninvasive, companion crops on lowbush blueberry production was examined at the Nova Scotia Wild Blueberry Inst. in 1998. A randomized complete-block experimental design was used with four replications and a plot size of 10 × 6 m. Treatments consisted of a control (no companion crop), sawdust, creeping red fescue, hard fescue, chewings fescue, sheeps fescue, birdsfoot trefoil (BFT), and redtop. Measurements of companion crop height, dry weight, and density, and lowbush blueberry vegetative and reproductive data were recorded. In addition, the effects of the companion crops on soil stability and weed pressures were measured at the conclusion of the growing season. Overall, the fescues and BFT established well within the blueberry canopy and in bare areas with plant densities ranging from 960 plants/m2 to 3500 plants/m2, plant dry weights of 7.2 to 11.7 mg/plant, and plant heights of 5.4 to 9.5 cm. The use of the companion crops increased yields with yields from the creeping red and hard fescue treatments being 9.0% and 13% greater, respectively, than the control. The creeping red and hard fescue treatments also significantly reduced weed pressures and increased soil stability. Therefore, using companion crops in lowbush blueberry production appears to be a viable management strategy with future research being required on herbicide use, fertility regimes, and harvestability.

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