Use management practices that promote good drainage. Raised beds help to overcome problems with high water tables but are not a substitute for a drainage system. Other ways to promote good drainage include: incorporating a small amount of sawdust in the beds before planting, covering raised beds with sawdust mulch, cover cropping between the rows, and periodically sub-soiling in the wheel tracks of harvesters or tractors.
Use caution when fertilizing young plants. Keep fertilizer about 10 cm (4 in) from the base of the plant. Spread fertilizer thinly and evenly to slightly beyond the dripline. Do not fertilize when the soil is dry. Refer to “Nutrition” in “Established Plantings” for further details and rates.
Several types of sawdust, including fir, hemlock and alder, have been successfully used on blueberries. Traditionally, cedar sawdust has been avoided because of concerns that its oil leachate may injure the crop. In recent years, because of a shortage of other types, some growers have applied cedar sawdust with no apparent negative affects.
The use of sawdust is an acceptable practice under the Agricultural Environment Management Code of Practice. Wood residue must be stored or applied at least 15 metres from away from a water course, and can not be applied more than 30 centimetres deep. Refer to the Agricultural Environmental Management Code of Practice for more information.
Plants cannot tolerate extended periods of flooding especially when they are actively growing. Poorly drained soil can result in poor plant growth, poor yield, root rot and plant death. A water table maintained at least 60 cm (24 in) below the soil surface is best for blueberry production.
High nematode populations can contribute to poor growth and establishment of young plantings, particularly on sandy soils. Some nematode species (dagger) can transmit viruses such as tomato ringspot.
Note: Herbicide application rates are listed on pesticide labels and in the production guide for broadcast or total field coverage. If spraying a band over the row area only, then the treated area is only a portion of the whole field and rates must be reduced accordingly. For example, when spraying 1 m bands on rows 3 m apart, only one third of the field is treated.
To determine actual crop water requirements and irrigation schedules, such factors as temperature, humidity, soil type, crop age and health, stage of crop development and presence or absence of mulch must be considered.
Sawdust mulch will help to suppress annual weeds, but herbicides will also be necessary. Select a combination of herbicide treatments from the following pages based on soil type and knowledge of the major problem weeds in the field.
The Blueberry Production Guide contains the latest recommendations on varieties, pest management and culture for commercial berry growers in British Columbia.