pictures pH 2-3 blueberries

fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TXApril 6, 2014

Have three blueberries not growing well. Tested pH at below 3 or thereabouts. The worst looking plant is pictured. It has small, sparse leaves and branches where all the leaves have fallen off towards the end. Poor top and root growth. But not particularily chlorotic looking.

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ferroplasm Zone 7b

How in the world did your pH get so low?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 7:56PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Possibly too much sulfur in the potting mix, too much 21-0-0 trying to get them to grow, and too many other things to look after...;-) Meter stops at pH 3 and it pegged out below that. I've leached with about 18 inches of our very alkaline well water and pH is now near 4-4.5. I'll see what it reads tomorrow and go from there.

I've posted pictures about this before. But this is the most sure I've been that what I'm looking at is excessively low pH.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 8:04PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

That PH is a double edged sword isn't it. Luckily you have the antidote lol just straight alkaline well water.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 7:45AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Two of the three plants look nearly normal. Just haven't grown much and have a few branches that have died back. So it's a bit shocking to see pH near 2 on that kinda plant.

In the past I've rehabbed a buddies bb like this and it didn't take long. After 3-4 months they were growing like weeds.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 9:06AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


I still remember the first time I plunged a PH meter into the soil near one of my BB bushes and the PH went down past 3 which is the limit of the device. I was shocked, worried and mystified all at the same time because the bush looked just fine. It then dawned on me it was from a less than even hand metering out the sulfur. Other areas of the bed were much higher up to 6......still it scared me at first.

I know Blueboy?? I think it was anyway had a mishap where his BB got down below 3 but I think on his they did show some damage. Yours almost look like fertilizer you think because the PH got so low that made the fertilizer do that or? I had always thought when you got below the PH curve for BB it was just like too high of a PH and they could not take up iron and got chlorotic?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 12:31PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I think this is the real deal. The roots won't grow properly either. In 1-2 years a few haven't grown into new soil when potted up.

But I've got others reading below 3 that look nearly normal except they aren't growing much. I've also got others treated the same, well maybe, for the last two years reading in the sixes.

I've neglected my bb the last two years in favor of other things. Haven't tested pH in a long time because I don't totally trust the meter. But when it stays in 4s, 5s, and 6s for many things bb and otherwise, and pegs out repeatedly below 3 on the pictured plant somethings off.

On further reflection I think the source of my issues may be too much sulfuric acid on some of my media prior to potting up. Of course I tested it with the pH meter prior to use. But I think it may have been too dry. I've since learned the pH meter reads way too high on dry material, not enough contact. Maybe I need to invest in a better meter.

Fortunately I've got more blueberry fruit than I can eat.

This post was edited by fruitnut on Mon, Apr 7, 14 at 13:37

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 1:22PM
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Yours almost look like fertilizer you think because the PH got so low that made the fertilizer do that or? I had always thought when you got below the PH curve for BB it was just like too high of a PH and they could not take up iron and got chlorotic?
I'm not thinking iron chlorosis from a low pH. Note how down to 4.0, Iron becomes more available.

Oregon State has a photo of sulfur toxicity.
Bernadine C. Strik, Professor, Oregon State University

However, Spectrum Analytics' document on bb fertilizer states: "For practical purposes S toxicity doesnâÂÂt happen. Excessive applications of elemental S most often result in a depression of soil pH and an increase of the problems that occur with the pH decrease. In fact, as the Nutrient Availability chart in the previous section on soil pH illustrates, sulfur availability is actually reduced as the pH of the soil decreases. This problem would not be expected with acid-loving crops like blueberries."

Manganese toxicity, which can happen as pH drops too low and Manganese becomes more available, looks similar to iron chlorosis. "Acid soil is the most common cause of Mn toxicity with most plant species. Because blueberries have evolved with and become adapted to strongly acid soils, Mn toxicity is not common. Symptoms include chlorosis and necrotic lesions on old leaves, dark-brown or red necrotic spots, accumulation of small particles of MnO2 in epidermal cells of leaves or stems, often referred to as âÂÂmeaslesâÂÂ, drying leaf tips, and stunted roots. Sometimes the interveinal tissue will show "puckering" or raised areas in the leaves." Spectrum Analytics
Spectrum Analytics

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 2:43PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


But that chart just shows down to PH 4....his is at PH 3. Do you happen to know if there is a chart that goes that low? Perhaps blueboy will see this....I recall his bushes showed some sign when the PH got very low. It is not a problem that happens all that often.

The link below is to the University of Arkansas. It states that yellowing and chlorosis occurs if the PH is too high or too low. It does not say anything about leaf burn though.

Here is a link that might be useful: U of Arkansas

This post was edited by bamboo_rabbit on Mon, Apr 7, 14 at 20:03

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 5:57PM
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Looks like potassium and possibly phosphorus deficiency induced by low pH. Salt injury and K deficiency look very similar.

Phosphate fertilizers are very good buffers in potting mixes, so I would supplement the medium with potassium phosphate and then adjust the pH as necessary.

This post was edited by Slimy_Okra on Mon, Apr 7, 14 at 18:12

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 6:10PM
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I did not see a chart going below pH of 4. Some cut off at 5. I don't think too many people try to grow plants below 4.0! haha

What Spectrum Analytics wrote about iron (this is publically available on the web, so hope I'm not infringing on any copyright when I'm attributing the source, and not making any $), that I failed to include earlier:
Deficiency Symptoms
Interveinal chlorosis of young leaves. Severe deficiencies may progressively affect the entire plant turning the leaves from yellow to bleached-white.
. . .
Toxicity Symptoms
Iron toxicity is primarily pH related and occurs where the soil pH has dropped sufficiently to create an excess of available Iron. As with some other nutrients, the visible symptoms of Fe toxicity are likely to be a deficiency of another nutrient. Fe toxicity can also occur when Zinc is deficient, or the soil is in a "reduced" condition. Reduced soil conditions mean that the soil lacks adequate oxygen. This can be caused by very wet or flooded conditions and soil compaction (or more typically, both situations). We donâÂÂt have good examples of the visual symptoms of Fe toxicity in blueberries, but in other plant species it has resulted in stunted growth of tops and roots plus dark green or dark brown to purple foliage.

Dark green or brown to purple foliage. Not the typical 'chlorosis' look of green veins and pale interveinal spaces.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 6:12PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

The plant pictured has stunted tops and roots and at least some dark green foliage. So that could be excess Fe toxicity.

And I was just talking to my buddy. He threw lots of granular sulfur on the rat litter pile where we get our potting media. He also has some potted peaches on Lovell that aren't growing right and is going to test pH.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 6:47PM
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That might have been one of my plants,bamboo rabbit,a potted Emerald,which I still have.I didn't take any pictures of it at the time though.
It happened fairly quickly,because I check my plants almost daily.A number of leaves looked Chlorotic,sort of resembling the ones in the the photo of S toxicity provided by charina,except without the burning,really looking just like high pH Chlorosis.The pH measured about two in spots.I was able to keep it alive by flooding with tap water.I can't remember if any leaves dropped off,possibly.
The only two Blueberry plants that I've killed were young and I thought it was the changing to cold weather that was making their leaves change to brown.Something I've learned since,that Southern Highbush don't do that,at least here.
I was using powdered Sulfur on all these. Brady

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 8:37PM
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