Historic note
 Front Cover

Group Title: Circular - University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences ; 397
Title: Growing blueberries in Florida
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00067216/00001
 Material Information
Title: Growing blueberries in Florida
Series Title: Circular
Physical Description: 8 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Arnold, C. E ( Calvin Eugene )
Sherman, W. B
Florida Cooperative Extension Service
Publisher: Florida Cooperative Extension Service
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: 197-
Subject: Blueberries -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: C.E. Arnold and W.B. Sherman.
General Note: Cover title.
General Note: "5-10M-74"--P. 4 of cover.
Funding: Circular (Florida Cooperative Extension Service) ;
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00067216
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 20570008

Table of Contents
    Historic note
        Historic note
    Front Cover
        Front cover
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
Full Text


The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.

Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida







C. E. Arnold and W. B. Sherman1


Rabbiteye blueberries are native
to Florida and many bushes are
growing wild throughout the
northern part of the state. There
are presently about 50 acres of
cultivated rabbiteye blueberries in
Florida, mainly located in the

Ocala, Gainesville and Jacksonville
area. However, blueberries are
well adapted to many of the soils
of northwestern Florida and could
become a much more important
fruit crop in this area.


Blueberries are most productive
on soils with low pH, preferably
4.2 to 5.2. Acid-type flatwood soils
are normally well suited for blue-
berries. The presence of native
blueberry plants is a definite indi-
cation of good blueberry land.
Plants on soils with a high pH nor-
mally make poor growth. Those
grown in areas where large

amounts of wood or logs have been
burned also make poor growth
since the basic minerals in the ash
raise the soil pH above optimum
levels. Deep sands or soils with a
low water holding capacity are
poorly adapted for blueberries.
Plants will not tolerate excessive
moisture for prolonged periods.


Six rabbiteye cultivars are rec-
ommended for planting from Ocala
north and westward through the
panhandle. These are 'Bluegem',
'Tifblue', 'Woodard', 'Briteblue',
'Delite', and 'Southland'. The har-
vest season for rabbiteye cultivars
is from late May through June.
Most blueberry cultivars are
self-unfruitful. Thus at least 2 cul-
tivars must be planted together

for pollination. Alternating culti-
vars by either single or double
rows is recommended. With good
pollination, yields of 3-year-old
bushes are often from 21/ to 5
pounds per plant. Bees are the
most common pollinating insect.
'Bluegem' produces a blue,
firm, small-scarred berry. It is rec-
ommended for interplanting with
'Woodard' because their blossom

'Assistant professor and associate professor, Fruit Crops Department,
University of Florida, Gainesville.

Professor Ralph Sharpe evaluating
promising selections.

periods coincide for cross-pollina-
tion. An outstanding character of
'Bluegem' fruit is the long reten-
tion on the bush in firm condition.
For best quality it is recommend-
ed that 'Bluegem' be picked 1 to 2
weeks after first blue color devel-
oprfent. Fruit size averages 100
to 110 berries per standard 8 oz.
Both fruit and young leaves
have a heavy wax that results in a
light blue appearance. The blue
leaf color exceeds that of any other
commercial rabbiteye cultivar.
'Bluegem' plants are moderately
spreading, and produce few suck-
ers. It is intermediate in plant size
between 'Woodard' and 'Tifblue'.
'Tifblue'-produces firm berries
with more blue than 'Woodard'.
The small dry scar makes picking
by hand easy and adaptable to me-

chanical harvesting. Flavor of fully
ripe berries is good. Berries attain
a blue color several days before
they are mature enough to eat
from the bush; therefore, there is
a tendency to harvest berries be-
fore they are fully ripe. The best
indication of immaturity is a red-
dish color around the scar. The
bush produces vigorous upright
growth with sufficient suckers to
replace old stems which are re-
moved in pruning. This variety has
not consistently set adequate crops
in the Gainesville area.
'Woodard' produces medium-
firm berries. Berries are light blue,
possess a strong aromatic flavor,
and possess a large shallow dry
scar. Berries ripen before 'Tifblue'.
Tests indicate that berries ship
favorably. The vigor and spread of
the bush is moderate due to the
production of many suckers.
'Southland'-produces firm ber-
ries with a light blue color. The
scar is small and dry. The fruit
skin may become somewhat tough
late in the season. Plants are vig-
orous with dense foliage.
'Briteblue'-produces firm ber-
ries with a light blue color. Ber-
ries are large, especially early in
the harvest season. Berry firm-
ness, heavy bloom, and small dry
scar combine to make this an ex-
cellent berry for shipping. The
bush is moderately vigorous and
spreading. Berries of this culti-
var, like 'Woodard', 'Tifblue' and
'Southland', are very tart until
fully ripe. Berries should not be
harvested until the red color has
disappeared from around the stem.

'Delite'-produces firm, medium-
large, round berries with small dry
scars. Although berries have a
fairly heavy waxy bloom the red
under color shows through when

ripe. Ripe and immature berries
separate from the plant easily, so
that mechanical harvesting must
be delayed until most berries are


The most satisfactory spacing
between rows is largely deter-
mined by equipment used in culti-
vation. The recommended spacing
is 6 by 12 feet.
Before planting, the soil should
be well cultivated by plowing, thor-
ough disking or rototilling to a
depth of at least 6 inches. Plants
should be set on beds, normally
about 8 to 14 inches high, if the
soil is poorly drained. Bare-rooted
plants should be transplanted dur-
ing the winter and care must be
taken to prevent drying of the
fibrous roots prior, during and
after planting. Container grown
plants can be set any time of the
year. Normally 1- or 2-year-old
plants are preferred for field plant-
ing. They should be set the same
depth at which they grew ii the
nursery or container. The hole
should be dug large enough to al-

low natural placement of the roots
without crowding. Pack the soil
around the roots at the time of
planting to avoid air pockets and
to prevent drying of the roots. Wa-
ter welf if the soil is dry. It is
essential to maintain adequate
moisture around newly set plants.
If the soil has been limed and
the pH is only slightly above 5.2,
300-500 pounds of sulfur per acre
should be incorporated into the soil
at least 3 weeks before planting.
Also, placing 1/S bushel of acid-
type peat moss in the planting hole
and thoroughly mixing with soil,
will tend to lower the pH. Never
place fertilizer in the hole at the
time of planting. Avoid soils with
a native pH above 5.2.
Blossoms should be removed the
first year after planting in the
field to produce a larger plant
more quickly.


The following fertilization pro-
gram has been used successfully
with rabbiteye blueberries in Flor-
ida. Plants set during early win-
ter should be fertilized in Feb-
ruary with 1 ounce per plant of a
"Camellia-Azalea" type fertilizer.
Apply 1 ounce of ammonium sul-
fate per plant monthly in June and

August. This should be spread
evenly on the soil surface in the
area covered by the foliage. Do
not use nitrate of soda or large
amounts of inorganic nitrogen.
On large, mature plants, the fer-
tilization program may consist of
14 pound of "Camellia-Azalea"
type fertilizer in February after

harvest. Another 1/4 pound of am-
monium sulfate per plant should
be applied in June. Excessive
amounts of fertilizer will kill
blueberry plants.
These are general recommenda-
tions and each grower must watch
the performance of his individual
plants on his particular soil type
and adjust his fertilization pro-
gram accordingly. Growers should

also watch for iron chlorosis,
which is expressed by intra-veinal
yellowing in young leaves. Most
garden supply stores sell a source
of iron which can be applied to
the soil to correct a deficiency.
Iron chlorosis may be the result of
too high a pH instead of an iron
deficiency. In this case, steps
should be taken to lower the pH
below 5.2.

Black plastic around young blueberry plants for weed control.


Broadleaf weeds and grasses
compete with young blueberry
plants for moisture and nutrients
and severely reduce growth and
yields. Blueberry plants are shal-
low-rooted, thus deep cultivation
will damage roots. Mulching with
pine straw, pine bark, or similar
materials, reduces weed growth
and conserves moisture. Sawdust
and wood chips are less desirable,
usually requiring chemical control

of termites. Black plastic has been
used. However, this method makes
it difficult to apply fertilizer. A
4 mill plastic will normally last 1
year in the field.
Herbicides are available for use
in Florida blueberry plantings and
those approved are described in
the following table. Growers not
familiar with the use of herbicides
should contact' their county exten-
sion office for assistance.


Bl-li.--rrit.- are pruned to r,,-
mote the :-I,.., th of -*!ii: new
\....i in order to maintain high
production of marketable fruii If
too little 11ru. inL' is done, the
plants are crowded with weak
f '.\i.... growth, and fail to d1esfvit 'l
-tr.i.- new wood for iutitn!. pro-
duction. Severe I Iru.i; in 1 i ,., I .
fewer but larger berries, and more
new wood. EXI~Ierien]Lc is the best
,ui-l- on how hard to prune. The
best time to prune is during the
winter. However, blueberries can
be pruned any time from the end

Rabbiteye blueberries are rela-
tively free of insects and diseases.
Several leaf spots have been ob-
served on blueberries in Florida
but are not of economic importance
at the present time. Powdery mil-
dew can be a iirni]l Ir iall
when plants are not in full sun-
light. For control -1.ir. with 4 to
7 lb. -lilfiir per 1I'.I gal. of water.
Bud mites and thrips have oc-
curred rather commonly and at
times may cause economic losses.

of harvest to the start of new
growth in the srin'W'.
Pr r uig; of young plants consists
Im.linbl of r'-ni, ii'l low branches
and weak I'. i-c.- growth. When
mature phln,. are transplanted, I/L
of the tiI, should be removed at
the time of Iljintli'.
Pt rnin established mature
Il1rit. consists of cutting out or
cutting back old canes that have
little strong new \ ,IIl and elimi-
nating the n-L.g'.'- L.,w-th in the
top and center of the bush.

.Li if. .1.- and control methods
are currently eitini. investigated.
Attacks by fruitworms and de-
foliating insects occasionally oc-
cur but have not been of economic
Birds are the most serious pests
of blueberries. Fruii is lost unless
scare tactics or netting is .id l.
D;ini-, to the y\,I I- tender
-r,.. tlh is often caused by crows
!r.r.l,,Ii1 in the top of plants.


I;lulL.iririe are normally propa-
gated from softwood .',tliitz- un-
der intermittent mist. Dormant cut-
tinv', taken in the winter are used
in northern states but are less suc-
cessful for the cultivars iL'r.vii in
FIni'l:. Terminal i.ttiii 4
inches loi:g. are taken after the
I'iri. flush of ,i'ring gri'mth in

mid-June and before shoots have
- ill.lp.-.1 terminal gr.i" .tih. The tip
of the ,.luttinig should be pinched
off if very tender and all leaves
stripped from the remaining cut-
ing-; except for the 2 or 3 i1uppt.
leaves. The basal inch of the cut-
tings can be wounded by renv,-ing
a thin slice of bark on one side,


Registered herbicides recommended for blueberries in Florida




Dichlobenil Casoron


80% WP





50% WP


Time of Weeds
application controlled

Early spring
or after shallow

3 to
5 lb.

50 to
100 lb.

10 lb.

100 to
150 lb.

Single application
in early spring
or after shallow

E Ily spring or
',t'1. shallow

Annual broadleaf
weeds, annual
grasses and
iri -rn i, l weed
w .:li]]

Most annual
broadleaf weeds
r.nd grasses

Annual broadleaf
weeds, annual
- i .i .. and
i,. ii,1:,i w eed
....I r .. -


Plants must be
established at least
1 year. Use higher
rate only on heavy
soils. Only 1 appli-
cation per year.
Contact action is
enhanced by the
..]i.M tl ,n of a

Use low rate for
sandy soils. Do not
apply while fruit is
present. Plants must
be established at
least 1 year

Follow application
;n ..]d: t..:J-1y with
shallow mechanical
incorporation or
iniL:t: ,I.n May be
used in new plant-
ings 30 days after

*WP = \\,t ii ,. Powder G = Granular **Product per treated acre

80% WP

. nI, :i r n

then dipped momentarily in a 1000
parts per million solution of in-
dolebutryic acid (IBA) made by
using 25% ethanol and 75% wa-
ter, for improvement of rooting.
Cuttings can also be dipped in a
powder of IBA sold under vari-
ous trade names ini garden supply
The cuttings are then set about
1 inch deep in a media of 50%
peat and 50% perlite. The mist
system is regulated to keep the
media rather moist but not exces-
sively wet until rooting occurs. The
cuttings should be rooted under
cover or partial shade. Rooting
normally occurs within 6 to 8
weeks. Resulting plants are nor-

mally kept in the rooting bed until
winter, then grown for a year in
a nursery before moving to the
field. Larger plants can be ob-
tained more quickly by transplant-
ing to pots when well rooted and
growing in a greenhouse the first
Blueberries can be propagated
from sprouts or suckers which
grow around the base of the
plants. This is a method of produc-
ing a limited quantity of rather
large plants in a relatively short
time. The suckers should be cut
back severely to compensate for
the partial loss of the root system
during digging and transplanting.

Blueberries being harvested by pick-your-own method.
~igiifc* .-A ._ 40 jtkA-pdad 4 CBg

*.. I
-< Z1

Blueberries being weighed for price determination.


Most blueberries produced in
Florida are harvested on a pick-
your-own basis. A few weeks be-
fore the berries are ripe, the grow-
er advertises a projected picking
date. The grower often provides
picking containers and directs the
customers to specific rows in the
field which should be picked first.

The price of berries is usually de-
termined on a weight basis.
Commercial machines are avail-
able for mechanical harvesting, in-
cluding hand-held vibrators and
large over-the-row machines. Flor-
ida has the potential for large
plantings which would be mechan-
ically harvested.

Snii: copies free to residents of Florida. Bulk rates available upon request.
Pl,-.i- submit details on request to Chairman, Editorial Department,
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida,
G ,n.:'-ll, Florida 32611.


This public document was promulgated at an
annual cost of $70::.20, or 7 cents per copy to
inform growers on blueberry production.

(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
Cooperatlve Extension Service, IFAS, University of Florida
and United States Department of Agriculture, Cooperating
Joe N. Busby, Dean

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