Pine Pole and Post Peelings Have Potential as Blueberry Growing Media and Soil Amendment

in HortScience
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  • 1 University of Georgia, Horticulture Department, Tifton Campus, Tifton, GA 31793
  • | 2 University of Georgia, Horticulture Department, Griffin Campus, Griffin, GA
  • | 3 University of Georgia, Appling County Extension Service, Baxley, GA
  • | 4 University of Georgia, Ware County Extension Service, Waycross, GA
  • | 5 University of Georgia, Statistical Services, Tifton Campus, Tifton, GA 31793

Growing southern highbush blueberries in milled pine bark beds ≈15 cm deep has become a popular fruit production system in Georgia and Florida. One of the primary limiting economic factors in this system is the cost of the growing media, which can exceed $10,000 U.S. per ha. In an effort to discover low-cost substitutes for milled pine bark, available waste or low-cost organic materials were screened for there suitability as growing media for southern highbush blueberries. Cotton gin waste, pecan shells, hardwood “flume” dirt, milled composted urban yard waste, composted urban tree trimmings, pine telephone pole peelings, and pine fence post peelings were evaluated. Only pine derived materials had a suitable pH (<5.3). Fresh pine telephone pole peelings (≈25% bark to 75% elongated fibers of cambial wood) and pine fence post peelings (≈75% bark to 25% elongated fibers of cambial wood) were evaluated for several seasons in containers and field trials. The growth index of blueberries in these materials was slightly less or equal to milled pine bark. Surprisingly, nitrogen deficiency was slight or not a problem. The results indicate that pine pole and post peelings may offer an excellent, low-cost substitute for milled pine bark for blueberry production.