Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Planting and Pruning Tips

Newly cleared land is best for planting since it usually contains more organic matter. Thoroughly work the soil for at least two years proceeding planting to subdue weeds and grasses. Add lime if the soil tests below pH 4.5 add sulfur to soils testing above pH 5.5 to acidify problem areas. When planting use 2 or 3 year old plants. Avoid plants older than 3 years old for commercial planting. Plant early in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Space the plants 4' apart in rows 10' apart. Set plants at the same depth as grown in the nursery. Mix a shovelful of acid peat with the soil in each planting hole when setting in sandy soils low in organic mater. Remove fruit buds, either before or soon after setting the plants. Cultivated berries are self fertile. However , if you want a long harvest season plant 2 or 3 varieties ripening in succession. Experiments indicate berries may be larger and slightly earlier- maturing when cross pollination dose occur. Most blueberry roots are close to the soil surface. Cultivate no deeper than 2 or 3 inches and only often enough to keep weeds in check.The blueberry needs annual pruning. Remove all the small spindly growth near the base of the plant. This will promote a more upright bush and keep the fruit away from the ground. Prune to remove dead and injured branches, fruiting branches close to the ground, spindly, bushy twigs on mature branches and old stems or parts low in vigor. Blueberry bushes which are pruned moderately each year produce larger berries, and tends to make the fruit ripen faster. Prune during dormancy, after the leaves have dropped in the fall, and during winter until buds swell in the spring.

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