COMMERCIAL

BLUEBERRY PLANTS

The recommended size plant for commercial planting is a 1L plant, however, if you intend planting in pots, a 68cm plant can be used.

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68cmᴲ cavity

This plant comes with a root cavity of about 63cmᴲ​. It can be replanted into the required bag size for your retail market. Depending on volume, the plants are sent bare root via courier or in a tube tray via refrigerated truck. The plants are planted in a high quality peat and perlite medium and are delivered once the root cavity is fully grown. The size of the top of the plant varies depending on the time of year.

1L plant

This plant comes with a root cavity of 1L. It is ready for planting when delivered. These plants typically are delivered in a refrigerated truck. The plants are planted in a high quality peat and perlite medium which includes a peat fibre to ensure that the medium stays attached to the roots when the bag is removed to protect the roots from damage during planting. They are delivered once the root cavity is fully grown. The size of the top of the plant varies depending on the time of year.

Propagation

All plants are propagated using tissue culture techniques.
This is a process where disease-free plants are cloned in a laboratory

THE MAIN BENEFITS OF TISSUE CULTURE PROPAGATION ARE:

– To quickly produce mature plants

– The production of multiples of plants in the absence of seeds or pollinators to produce seeds

– The production of exact copies of plants in sterile conditions which greatly reduces chances of pests, disease and pathogens

– Homogenous planting in an orchard which simplifies the fertigation process

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Planting

Blueberries can be planted in a field or in pots. If they are planted in the field, the typical amount is between 4000 – 5000 plants per hectare. The soil must be well drained and acidic. It is good practice to plant on ridges to ensure good drainage. If possible, plants should be planted in a North/South direction. They should be planted with a minimum spacing of 90cm and 2,8m between the rows. The space between the rows is dependent on the size of the tractor or other implements that will be used. The tractor tyres must not drive on the side of the ridge so as creating a wall as this will inhibit drainage. As blueberries have a shallow root system, they cannot compete with weeds. The ridges should be covered with weed mats or mulched to reduce the weeds. Regular removal of weeds is required. Drip irrigation is recommended that can be moved as the plant grows If plants are planted in pots, ensure you use an acidic medium and pots of at least 20L. The medium must not have any dust in it as this will eventually create a mud layer at the bottom of your container into which the roots won’t grow. Ensure that the holes at the bottom of the bag or pot are clear from the ground and drain when plants are watered. You can start with a high density of plants of about 8000-10000 plants per hectare and spread them out as they grow. This way you don’t need as much infrastructure in terms of net or tunnels right at the beginning. Plants should be planted under a minimum 20% shade net to protect them against wind, hail and birds. If planting in tunnels, ensure you can cool the plants during summer. In both net and tunnel structures, care must be given to ensure access by bees when the plants are flowering. It is advisable to remove the flowers in the first year so as to increase the vegetative growth of the plant for the following season and in that way ensuring longevity of the plant

 Fertigation

 

The management of EC levels is one of the most critical factors in achieving successful farming of blueberries. When applying fertilisers, the EC of the mixture has to be measured and its preferable that the level be below 1. The minerals in the soil as well as in the water will determine how much space there is for fertigation of the plants. The irrigation system needs to be flushed on a regular basis to avoid salt build ups. Plants should be given pure water over weekends to flush the soil. Plants in substrate develop a root system that adapts to a very limited space. Such plants need to be fed small quantities of minerals as regularly as possible. The physical properties of the substrate as well as the dimension of the container play a crucial role regarding the longevity of the plant (good drainage is of utmost importance). The substrate needs to be flushed with pure water every time when the salt content (EC = electrical conductivity) goes over the recommended limit. It is therefore important that the quality of the water and drainage is good. There must be proper monitoring stations in every irrigation block where the % drainage and EC can be monitored continuously followed by corrective action. You should contact your local agronomist to determine the suitable fertigation for your circumstances