Preparations need to be done well in advance for producers interested in producing blueberry plants, said Elina Coneva, an Extension specialist in the Horticulture Department at Auburn University, during a webinar on the Alabama Extension Commercial Horticulture Facebook page.
“For those who are considering becoming blueberry growers, I would let you know that you need start preparation for your blueberry field at least one year in advance,” Coneva said. “The good soil types for growing blueberries are characterized by light, sandy and well-drained soils. In addition to all the nutrients that you need to check in your soil, you need to be aware of the pH in your soil. Unlike almost all other fruit crops, the optimal soil pH for blueberry production is between 4.2 and 5.5.”
She also added that it is important that farmers add organic matter to their soil. This can be achieved through cover crops or through peat moss, though it is a more expensive option. The most popular option is the use of pine bark.
“This (organic matter) adjustment will improve the chemical, physical and mechanical properties of the soil in which the blueberries are going to be grown,” Coneva said.
She added that each 1% of soil organic matter releases about 15 pounds of nitrogen each year.