Thank you to everyone who attended the 2014 Organic Blueberry Workshop! It was a great success and according to the survey responses, attendees got some new ideas for managing Mummy Berry and Spotted Wing Drosophila along with new information about mulching practices.
67% of workshop attendees said that they will be changing their management of blueberry diseases based on what they learned.
And additional 15% of attendees said that they may be incorporating the new information into their management strategies after having more time to think it over.
Here’s a recap of what was covered:
Effects of Various Management Techniques
Optimum soil pH for blueberry is 4.5-5.5
Douglas fir sawdust is generally recommended because it’s readily available and it has a pH of about 4.5 (good for blueberries). 73% of attendees already use Douglas Fir sawdust on their organic blueberry operations.
Seeds of weedy plants don’t germinate readily in sawdust. However, seeds of weedy plants do germinate readily in compost, because it is nutrient rich and holds moisture better.
Cultivar differences make it difficult to make any management generalizations. To understand cultivar responses, comparing yield on rows of treated and untreated blueberries may give farmers personalized information needed to create an effective management regime.
Raised beds tend to increase yield.
Feather meal tends to be best fertilizer for weed mat weed management operations.
Yard debris compost has a high pH (7 to 8). It’s best to avoid using a lot of compost when mulching blueberries. Also avoid manures or horse bedding for the same reason. Managing soil pH should be your first concern, since yield is similar whether weeds are managed with compost + sawdust, sawdust alone, or a weed mat.
Weed mat or landscape fabric controls weeds well, but must have a drip irrigation line under the weed mat or the plants may not get watered well enough. It’s also best to put some organic matter under the weed mat (ex: bark or sawdust), but no more than 2″ deep.
If weed management technique is sawdust alone: Do not put on more than 3 inches at once (plant roots need oxygen) and renew mulch every few years to maintain the 3 inch depth. 87.5% of workshop attendees mulch 1-4 inches every year.
It takes 8-14 days for Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) to transition from an egg to an adult.
Operations with a large variety of fruit production (i.e. raspberries, blueberries, apples, pears) may have a harder time controlling SWD due to increased habitat.
SWD likes high humidity areas in the canopy! Increased air flow can help control SWD. Pruning is important!
Blueberry bushes can live for > 70 years!
Blueberry bushes need 6-7 years to reach full production.
8ft or shorter is a good height for blueberry bushes.
2. Increased berry size
3. Disease/insect management
4. Fruit quality
5. Appropriate growth habit for harvesting
There was lots of information presented at the Organic Blueberry Workshop. If there is any additional information you’d like to know about or have recapped, leave a message in the comments section!