There are two species of blueberries under cultivation:
Highbush Cranberry (Vaccinium Corymbosum)
Rabbiteye Cranberry (Vaccinium Ashei-Reade).
Fabric and time to sample
Tissue to be sampled: Recently expanded leaves of branches with fruits. The most advisable date for sampling is between December 15 and January 15.
Blueberries lack root hairs and their rooting is superficial. They are susceptible to both deficit and excess water; therefore the control of soil moisture is essential for the proper development of this plant.
Excessive fertilization produces a brown color on the leaves at the tips and edges of the blade; this species has a low fertilizer requirement.
Deficiency symptoms of the main nutrients and recommendations for their correction
The fertilizer needs of this species are very low, much lower than most fruit trees. The continuous applications of fertilizers, in low doses, have been more efficient than those made in high doses. In young blueberries, damage can be caused by excessive fertilizers, even if the doses are low; this can happen because its roots lack hairs
radicals. For this reason, it is not recommended to make localized applications.
Excess fertilizer has a depressing effect on this fruit tree, since this excess causes root damage.
The presence of a chlorosis can be induced by the lack of various nutrients; hence the identification of the causes must be determined through leaf analysis.
Other Considerations Depending on Soil Properties
The development of the plant is lower in soils with a pH above 7; likewise, as occurs in soils with very low pH due to an effect of an excess of manganese (Mn). In alkaline pH soils development can be limited, which would be due to an excess absorption of sodium (Na) and due to limitations that this effect has on the absorption of elements such as phosphorus (P), zinc (Zn) and iron (Fe) mainly.
The best development of the plant, according to some authors, occurs with pH levels between 4.0 – 5.2 or 4.5 – 4.8. Most “Rabbit Eye” blueberry varieties thrive in soils with pH 4.0 – 6.0. pH levels above those indicated produce a nutritional imbalance, making iron chlorosis a common occurrence. When the pH is above these values, soil acidification proceeds, with sulfur (S) or sulfuric acid (H2SO4); this is recommended before planting. When using sulfur (S), as a precaution it must be mixed with the soil. As a general recommendation, every year it is convenient to check the pH of the soil, since the use of fertilizers can cause it to rise.
Organic Matter (OM)
In soils with a low OM content, the addition of pine sawdust, in the form of mulch, improves blueberry growth; especially in soils with pH above 6.0. This application of softwood sawdust should be supplemented with nitrogen (N), to stimulate microbial activity and achieve a faster decomposition of the sawdust and not run the risk of suffering “nitrogen starvation”.
Other Factors Influencing Nutrition
The availability of light is particularly important in blueberries; This is how in the “Ojo de Conejo” variety, the percentage of colored fruits and their size is directly related to the amount of light that the crown receives.
Both the number of leaves and their spatial distribution are essential for a better interception of sunlight (winter and summer pruning). In plants, photosynthetic efficiency rarely exceeds 2%. Among the most important factors that affect it are an adequate supply of water and light related to the density of the crown, since the most shaded parts only achieve 50% to 60% of the maximum photosynthesis. The amount of fruit also affects it, since an increase in the photosynthesis rate is generally detected when the fruit-leaf ratio increases.
The blueberry is very sensitive to the problems of water availability, both to the deficit and to the excess; hence, water can be a limiting factor on development and production.
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