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  • Author or Editor: Gary Nimr x
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Blueberry production is enhanced by the use of an organic mulch. An alternative to off-farm sources of mulch is the production of winter and summer living mulch cover crops grown in the row middles of the blueberry planting. These crops are mowed and then windrowed for use as a mulch. We evaluated living mulch crops for blueberries for the following parameters: adaptation to low soil pH, mulch production, ease and cost of stand establishment, mowing tolerance, allelopathic weed control, and N contributed by mulch. Rye, ryegrass, and crimson clover were the most overall suitable crops for the winter; while for summer, pearl millet was best adapted. Nitrogen was the major limiting factor that affected nonlegume production. Legume yields were limited by deer foraging and low soil pH. Pearl millet had the greatest allelopathic response on weeds of all cover crops tested. Maximum dry matter production for the living mulches ranged from 6000 kg/ha for elbon rye in the winter, to 30,000 kg/ha for pearl millet in the summer. With the appropriate cover crop selection and adequate soil fertility living mulches appear to be a efficacious practice to aid blueberry production in the south.

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The relative tolerance of flower buds and flowers of southern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) to cold damage was compared to rabbiteye (Vaccinium ashei Reade) and highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.). For similar stages of floral bud development, southern highbush and highbush cultivars had less winter freeze and spring frost damage than rabbiteye cultivars. Cold damage increased linearly with stage of flower bud development. Small fruit were more sensitive to frost damage than open flowers. Rabbiteye blueberry flower buds formed during the fall growth flush were more hardy than buds formed during the spring growth flush, regardless of cultivar or stage of development.

Free access

Abstract

Fruit from 7- and 8-year-old ‘Tifblue’ rabbiteye blueberry [Vaccinium ashei (Reade)] plants were harvested at 0600, 0900, 1200, and 1500 hr. Harvests occurred twice a season for each of 2 years. Fruit cullage after machine harvesting averaged ≈30% of total fruit harvested. The first machine harvest in a season had 6% to 16% less cullage than the last harvest. The number of mature fruit remaining on the plants after harvesting decreased with later harvest times during the day. Thus, an increase in harvester efficiency corresponded to decreased leaf water potential. The effect of harvest time during the day on packout and fruit quality after storage was inconsistent between and within years. There was no optimum time of day to machine-pick blueberries when fruit were promptly sorted and cooled after harvest.

Open Access

Abstract

‘Tifblue’ and ‘Delite’ rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium ashei Reade) plants were grown for 4 years with or without mulch, with cultivated or sodded row middles, and under various irrigation treatments [one drip emitter at the base of the plant, two drip emitters 46 cm on either side of the plant, or a 40° or 360° low-volume spray emitter (LVSE) placed midway between plants]. Plant establishment and growth were optimal with 360° LVSE. Differences between irrigation treatments were minimized with mulch. Mulch increased growth of drip-irrigated but not of LVSE-irrigated plants and increased the yield of two-emitter and 360° LVSE-irrigated plants but not of one-emitter or 40° LVSE-irrigated plants. Treatment effects on growth were more apparent in the early establishment phase than in the 4th year of growth and with ‘Tifblue’ than ‘Delite’. Frost damage on ‘Delite’ was reduced by mulch. Vegetative bud development in the spring and fruit maturity were usually delayed on plants grown between sodded alleys or with mulch. Leaf drop in the fall was also delayed by mulch.

Open Access