Soil Drainage and Irrigation for Blueberry Crops

Blueberries November 14, 2011 Print Friendly and PDF

Utilizing proper soil drainage and irrigation techniques are important to growing healthy blueberry patches.

Soil Drainage

Adequate soil drainage is essential for healthy blueberry patches. Blueberry plants will not tolerate excessive moisture (wet feet) for long periods. In low, poorly drained areas, set plants on raised beds 6 inches to 12 inches high and 4 feet wide. Arrange elevated rows to allow good drainage from between rows.

Irrigation

Just as drainage is beneficial for growing healthy blueberry plants, supplemental irrigation is essential in most seasons, and, on most soils, plants should be watered throughout the growing season when rainfall is inadequate. Irrigation of young plants is especially important. Adequate water is essential for plant growth and is important for fruit bud formation that occurs in the fall. Hand watering with a hose is possible for several bushes; however, a soaker hose will usually give more uniform wetting. In larger plantings, systems using micro-sprinklers have been more successful than point-source drippers. Even two drippers per plant often do not wet enough of the soil in the root zone. At least 50 percent of the area under the drip line should be wetted. The use of automatic timers on drip or microsprinkler irrigation systems can result in shallow root systems and root rotting if systems apply water daily. Apply irrigation no more than once every two days to reduce the chances of root rot infection.

Contact:

  Elina Coneva, Auburn University

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USDA / NIFA

This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.