soil test arrived too late - blueberries

thomis(7)March 13, 2014

Unfortunately the NC State ag lab was a little off on their turn-around-time for my soil test results. My blueberries arrived before the soil test results came in. So I went ahead and planted the blueberries in mounds using a mixture of 2/3 peat moss and ground pine bark fines and 1/3 of the native soil. A half shovel of well composted chicken poo was added to the whole wheelbarrow mixture for each plant before I dumped it and built the mound.
Now to the soil test results, which were random samples taken between each spot where the blueberries were planted:
pH 5.9
pH 6.2
pH 5.8
pH 6.2

My question is, should I water them for a while with an acidic solution made with water and elemental sulfur, or do you think the mixture of peat moss, bark fines, etc. will be sufficient?

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Elemental sulfur won't mix with water. I'd spread a modest amount on the soil surface, work it in a little if possible and water. Given that you used peat moss it shouldn't take much sulfur at that pH.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 9:54AM
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I'm shallow on experience (so take what I say with a grain of salt), but have been reading a lot regarding soil amendment for bbs. The peat and pine bark both have low ph, and with only 1/3 of native soil, which already had a below-neutral ph (which means there is very little alkalinity to buffer/resist lowering of ph), you are probably perfectly fine on ph now. I'd guestimate you are already below 5.5 in the planted holes with the amendment. Were it me, I'd skip any elemental sulfur application, and consider doing so only if a test shows a high ph (unless your water is an issue). Do you know your irrigation water's ph and alkalinity?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 11:03AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Don't think your soil PH is bad at all. I really would though avoid the manure as it tends to be quite alkaline. With the peat and pine fines your scoop of native soils effects will be limited on the PH. What really matters in the long run is the PH and bicarbonate load of your irrigation water. If you are just going to use rain water no issues....if you will irrigate from a well or municipal source that water will dictate what you need to do.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 12:03PM
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Could you give us some insight on how
you go about planting in the ground? I know
your Ph is above range at 6.5. Do you add sulfur?
How big of a hole and what do you amend it with?
I know you use a sulfuric acid soln. What is
Ph of your final soln. Thanks for your advice
as well as any others!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 9:25PM
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I would agree your ph probably ok now. If you want to do something, add an ounce of ammonium sulfate sprinkled around the dripline. Both the sulfur and the ammonium form of nitrogen will further acidify your soil. Next year test again, you may find you are right where you need to be.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 10:03PM
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Based on my experience, you did a good job of prepping the soil for your blueberry shrubs, and I would think that they will get off to a good start. I prefer to wait a few months before applying any nitrogen fertilizer, but the amount of composted manure that you added in was small enough that I think you will be OK. To be successful with blueberries, you are going to have to figure out the pH of your irrigation water, which I assume comes from a local well. If the water has significant dissolved limestone, then the soil pH will rise over time, and some means will have to be used for periodic soil pH testing, and lowering pH. If you have a source of rainwater, or if your local well water is free of limestone and considered to be soft, then pH control gets a lot easier.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 11:59PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


My native soil PH is 6.5....ok lets be honest the native soil is not soil it is snow white sand, looks the stuff in an hourglass. Sand does not have a PH as it is not soluble so it is the small amount of organics in it that give me the 6.5.

To the sand I add a 2cf bag of pine fines per plant and maybe 1/10 of a bale of peat. Use maybe 25%? of the native sand by volume. I don't want a deep hole just maybe 6" deep. I do want the area amended to be wide.

I prefer bare root plants but potted work also. With potted some of the rootball will be above ground level and that is ok. Once planted they get 10" of mulch around them. It is just tree service trims done for our electric company. I am lucky that the director of the electric company is a neighbor so have a virtually inexhaustible supply delivered for free.

In a perfect world I do all the above a year in advance, in the case of the ravens it will have been done 2 years in advance:) and in the case of the Indigo crisps 4? years in advance. I am not adding more space for BB so what fits in the 3 beds is what fits.

I add no sulfur as I acidify the irrigation water. The soil PH in the 3 BB beds is 5 to 5.5. In the spring it is sometimes a bit higher as I have overhead freeze protection on all the beds and that water is just straight high bicarbonate PH 7.8 well water. Just depends how many times the system was needed, this year just 1 night. I just use a bit more acid and it takes care of the bicarbonates.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 7:46AM
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What is final Ph of irrigation water?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 10:41PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


PH 5.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 7:43AM
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