Sunday, October 5, 2008

Growing Blueberries

Growing Blueberries
The annual growth is usually based in biennial cropping of a given are of the operation. In late fall or early winter, as soon as the blueberry plants are dormant, the chosen plots are “pruned,” either by mowing or burning. These areas will not yield fruit the following year, but the process is meant to encourage healthy vegetative growth, to help control competing weeds and to kill harmful pests and diseases.

Most growers have small areas that are frequently on hilly land that is often also rocky, so burning is the only option. Straw or hay is spread over the field either with a tractor-drawn straw layer or by hand if the area is not accessible by tractor. The straw or hay is then is set on fire with then intention of burning both it and the aerial parts of all plants growing in the area. Tractor-drawn burners are used to control burning where possible.

Controlling weeds using chemicals is very widespread. Applied in the spring following pruning, it proved very effective in killing almost all the weeds that competing with the crop, including those that bear berries that would become mixed in with the blueberries and spoil the picked product.

In addition to reducing competition and allowing the wild blueberries space to gradually spread into spaces formerly occupied by weeds, chemically based weed control has also meant that fertilizer can be used more effectively. Instead encouraging the weeds to flourish above all else, the minerals go exclusively into the roots of the blueberries, which in turn increases the plant’s growth in this first year of the biennial cycle. It is in the first year that the framework for the production of flowers – and therefore the fruit in the following year – is established.

Once blueberries start flowering in early May, many growers put hives of honeybees into the areas to help pollination. However, as with highbush blueberries it is the wild, solitary bees that are most active as pollinators. Some growers are able to provide irrigation for their wild blueberries during spells of dry weather to allow the fruits to keep swelling.
Growing Blueberries

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