24 brix blueberry???

fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TXJanuary 31, 2012

The Jewel and Scintilla in my sunroom are ripening.

Berries on Jewel are large, just like last summer.

The Scintilla plant hasn't grown at all and is water deficit because the potting media has gone bad. I'm 99% certain the bottom of the media has water logged. The plant is using less than half the water of the Jewel, rest runs out the bottom.

Jewel tested 13.8 brix on the fruit pictured and Scintilla 24. The Scintilla fruit are nearly as firm as Sweetcrisp last summer but less crisp. The Scintilla has a very strong agreeable blueberry flavor mostly in the skins.

Results agree with what I see on stone fruit; sweeter, firmer, more flavorful fruit with a long term water deficit.

Anyone else have experience with water deficit blueberry?

Jewel left, Scintilla right.

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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Fruitnut,

Those berries must have hung a LONG time on the plant, they are starting to wrinkle. Could they be that sweet due to the sugars concentration as the berry starts to contract?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 7:45PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

bamboo:

Dehydration of the fruit is part of the equation. But this fruit hasn't been hanging all that long since it turned blue. Neither variety has hung very long.

Tomorrow I'll post a picture of the two plants.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 8:59PM
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blueboy1977(TX9A/B)

How exactly can you tell the media has collaped and is water logged. I have 2 potted plants that Im worried about.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 9:46PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

blueboy:

It helps to have seen it once before. On this plant the volume of soil in the pot has shrunk to about 2/3 original. Then even that volume doesn't retain the amount of water it should. You poor the water in and it runs out the bottom sooner than it should. And last but not least after a day in the sun the next morning when soil water is at it's low the bottom of the pot is still wet. Water is draining out over night when the soil should be dry.

After harvest I'll pull both the Jewel and Scintilla out of their pots and I think the difference will be clear.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 10:45PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Fruitnut,

I know if I leave too much fruit on a plant the fruit toward the end of the ripening season starts to shrivel even with adequate water. Do you think it is the root problem that caused that?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 7:19AM
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Noogy(6 sw mi)

Are you planting in peat? Sometimes such media has a surface tension issue that need to be broken with a wetting agent so it penetrates instead of beading up and running off.Rain-x anyone?
Try a couple drops of dish soap in your water, mix it around and see if it runs off. At first you may need to do it gradually. I hope this helps.
Tasty looking berries.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 8:17AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I carefully measured the amount of water the Jewel and Scintilla retained on watering this morning. Results surprised even me. Jewel 3.4 liters and Scintilla 0.7 liters, 5 times more for Jewel. They were potted up in April 2010 in the same volume of same media.

Here are pictures of the plants. The Jewel had a little more foliage Nov 1 but now has much more foliage. It has put on lots of new growth, Scintilla no new growth.

I'd say Jewel has ~4 times more fruit by weight.

Scintilla:

Jewel:

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 11:01AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Going forward I'll make an effort to up the brix on at least some of my potted blueberry. Certainly won't try to restrict water to 20% as in above comparison. I'll shoot for 2/3 to 3/4 the water I've applied in the past and see what the plants look like.

On stone fruit I've run water deficits that I've estimated at about 66-75% of "full" water. Don't have any real numbers to support that. But even at the lowest water levels on stone fruit I know it's way above 20%.

My goal with stone fruit is to get brix into the 20s. On blueberries upper teens would be very good. In the past my average brix have run about 12-18 on blueberry. Above 14 is usually pretty sweet.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 2:04PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

That is a HUGE difference in water retention. That Jewel just looks so much more robust in so many ways.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 3:47PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

bamboo:

The best looking plant and fruit usually aren't the sweetest fruit or the most flavorful. I'm very wary of big beautiful stone fruit. They usually taste blah. These Scintilla may be small and wrinkled but they have tons more flavor than I'm used to in a blueberry; mine, store bought, university trial, or pick your own.

This little incident leads me to believe that I can up the quality of my blueberry. In the past I've considered them a second or third rate fruit. Sweetcrisp last year was the first blueberry I'd rate first class.

I wish someone else would start posting brix. Then I'd have something else to know where I stand. It would be nice to know what others think is good or bad.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 4:23PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

If you want sweet all it takes is pumping the fertilizer to the plants from flower fall to harvest. You can get so much sugar in the fruit that they stick together in the package. Commercial folks won't do that as the cost is prohibitive. The extra fertilizer won't improve the flavor though.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 7:27PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

bamboo:

What kind of fertilizer? Never heard of any such with any fruit. Going to need to see that myself to believe.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 8:16PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Fruitnut,

Well you have the perfect time to try it......take two similar plants. Feed the one as you normally do and on the other up it's fertilizer by say 25%. Not sure if you foliar spray fertilizer on the underside of the leaves or not and if not do so:). Test the brix at harvest.

The fertilizer sweetness advice comes from the commercial folks here that know what they are talking about as it is their living not just a hobby like it is to you and I...Well for you and I it may be more an obsession than a hobby. If you would like send me an email and I will give you the growers email and you can pick his brain yourself. He is a board member on the Florida blueberry growers association, the commercial growers group.

I just use 12-4-8 with micro nutrients. Just picked up my BB fertilizer on Monday (300 lbs) Went up from $10#50 to $12 #50 if you would like to see the label I can post a picture.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 7:14AM
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blueberrier1

Fruitnut, always enjoy your postings!

Are all your blueberries potted? If some are 'in ground,' how do they compare to the same variety potted?

Just began BRIX testing with Cavendish, outdoor grown, strawberries. Rainy dark day Brix was 8-10, which most charts call poor to average. Will retest on the next sunny day. When my highbush blueberries ripen, will test them for varietal differences.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 10:33AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

blueberrier:

Yes, all mine are potted. I'm just starting harvest of the blueberry plants that have spent all winter in the greenhouse. So far I've really liked the fruit. Both sweeter and more flavorful than normal. Haven't tested many brix so far on the blueberries but the last were about 16. That's pretty good for my blueberries.

I tested some strawberries this winter. The brix was about 10, pretty bad. Bad enough that I threw the plants away.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 11:01AM
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persianmd2orchard

Fruitnut, there are growers in southern Iran that plant in very dry space and don't water their fruit at all (this is done with vinifera grapes, figs, I think pretty much everything--poms...) and it all tastes absolutely amazing, all of it. It's called "bash" there this tactic.

I had assumed though for fruit that's native to wetter conditions than than southern Iran(like blueberries) this would not work and might be even detrimental to taste. I'm going to start "bash"-ing my blueberries now too. Blackberries and raspberries too??? I thought people say to water blackberries during droughts to help them ripen. Again, might be misguided and that just gets you bigger fruit faster but not for optimal taste.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 11:49AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Persian:

I don't know if deficit irrigation will work for berries. I've tried to hold back on watering my blueberries this spring and feel that I've the best fruit ever. But I'll need more experience to really form an opinion. If nothing else the margin for error is probably pretty small.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 12:21PM
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