KEYS AND TECHNIQUES TO TAME AND GROW BLUEBERRIES
The fruits of the forest are fruits with a high cost due to their fragility to blows and handling and because of their scarce cultivation. The wild ones are very expensive and the accounts for consumers do not pay. Today in Gardenprue we tell you the keys to its cultivation in case you dare. If you’ve already planted strawberries in your garden, set aside a space in the garden for the blueberry .
We had been wanting to talk about this fruit of the forest for some time, although the trigger for deciding to write this article was something curious. Speaking with a family member, he told me that he had recently discovered that he was allergic to blueberries. He discovered it from an unpleasant and harrowing experience when eating a few. He went to the specialist doctor to tell him what had happened and the surprise was great when the doctor in question had never heard of what a blueberry was. So that there is no doubt about what a blueberry is and how it is grown, here is our contribution.
SOME DETAILS OF THE BLUEBERRY
The blueberry is known mainly by this name although we have some more such as blueberry, anavi, small change or raspanos. All of them less common names but that designate both the fruit and the plant whose botanical classification is of the genus Vaccinium spp. The cultivated species are various and differ by country. They are mainly distinguished Vaccinium corymbosum L. (American), the common blueberry (popular in Europe) or V. myrtillus L., or others such as V. ashei, V. oxicoccus. and a few more species. All of them cultivated and consumed. The differences and popularity lie in the geographic zones and consequently, climatic zones, differentiating dozens of species according to warm or temperate climate.
The most cultivated today is the American blueberry ( Vaccinium corymbosu m L.), selected for its large fruits. This has made this variety spread over the 5 continents for its commercial exploitation. As a crop it is mainly found in the US, obviously, and across the Atlantic in Central and Eastern Europe and Russia.
WHAT IS THE BLUEBERRY PLANT LIKE?
It is a woody shrub up to 4 meters high in its fullness. It is a very long-lived deciduous species with abundant cluster flowering. Its fruit is red in color that turns bluish-black with a waxy layer called pruin that gives it that velvety matte texture. Other fruits that contain this protective protein are, for example, sloe or grapes. The blueberry root system is shallow and with a very fine root, so the humidity of the soil will be key as we will see later.
THE CLIMATE AND THE SOIL, THE KEYS TO ITS CULTIVATION
It has a typical temperate forest climate, although not very gloomy. The lighting is necessary. Its weak point is the late frosts where the flowers die when temperatures drop below 4 or 5ºC. It should be noted that during the winter latency, it is able to withstand a whopping (and never better said) of -30ºC. In addition, it is a species that needs a few hours of minimum cold during the winter so that the flowering and fruit setting are adequate. It needs to accumulate between 400 and 1200 hours below 7ºC, according to species and varieties, so that the following phenological state is correct. Another critical point with respect to the climate is hot and very dry summers. Fruit wrinkling can occur above 30ºC if the ambient humidity is very dry.
The soil corresponds to the typical acidophilic forest soil. In addition, it must be very humid although with good drainage (avoid waterlogging), with a high content of humified organic matter and with an acid pH . Around 4.5 on average, not higher than 5.5 or lower than 4. Below this value we can find calcium and sulfur deficiencies and above 6, production falls drastically. Refrain from growing blueberries in limestone and high pH soils. It is quite a limiting factor.
Correction of the pH value of a soil.
THE WIND, THE GREAT ENEMY OF FRUITS
The wind does not damage the tree or break branches as it can in other more delicate fruit trees. In this case, the wind is a great enemy of the fruit. If it hits too much, the fruits fall irretrievably, and those that do not, are damaged by friction. If your intention is to grow for productive purposes, it is convenient to provide windbreak elements.
HOW CAN WE GROW A BLUEBERRY? THERE ARE A FEW TIPS.
The best time to plant is during winter . Sprouting marks the planting limit so we have time during the cold season to plant it. It is convenient to bury the seedling a few centimeters more than what they had in the nursery.
For a correct development of the blueberry we must refrain from picking fruit for the first 2 years at least. That is, we will remove the flowers to prevent fruit set and promote vegetative growth in order to develop the tree well in the first place. Patience that there will be time to taste them with greater quantity and quality.
Pruning from the first 3 years will consist of controlling the height to no more than (1.75 – 2 meters) and eliminating dead and unproductive branches, which in the case of blueberries are branches over 4 years old. The rest of the pruning operations will consist of promoting the growth of new branches that ensure production.
The mulch peat or pine bark is highly recommended in bilberry for several reasons. They are materials that help maintain an acidic pH in the root environment of the plant and conserve soil moisture with greater stability, also preventing the growth of adventitious plants.
IRRIGATION AND FERTILIZATION SHOULD NOT BE NEGLECTED
The critical time is summer. As we have already anticipated, hot and dry summers ruin blueberry production. To avoid this, you will have to pay close attention to the irrigations during this period, doing up to 3 irrigations a week.
We have already commented on the need for soils with high contributions of organic matter. In addition to this, we will have to pay attention to the pH of the soil since if it is too acidic it can cause deficiencies of some essential elements such as calcium that we have to observe and supply.
Identify deficiencies in plants
MULTIPLYING THE BLUEBERRY IS NOT COMPLICATED
It is assumed that when we get into the cultivation of blueberries we will go to our nursery to buy the necessary seedling or seedlings. If from there you need to multiply it, you should know that the most common is woody staking, which is done as follows:
- Cuttings about 10cm long are cut in late winter, before budding.
- They are allowed to root in substrate at 21ºC
There are many of which we will discuss in more detail in later posts but there are some depending on their maturity (from earliest to latest).
Earlyblue, Bluetta, Spartan, Patriot, Berkeley, Bluecrop, Liberty, Elliot son unas pocas.
The cranberry. Finally, a highly appreciated and rarely cultivated variety ( Vaccinium vitis-idaea L.). It is located in the Northern Hemisphere. Its fruits are of an intense red and for this reason it is more special than the common blueberry.