Blueberry leaves turning red...

shazaam(NC 7B)August 24, 2013

For those of you with blueberry growing experience, what do you make of this?

The bush is a rabbiteye (Centurion) that's growing in a pine bark based potting mix. It's one of several small rabbiteyes that, until recently, were all in 2-gallon pots with no incorporated fertilizer. Three to four weeks ago, I transplanted them very gently (with minimal root disturbance) into 10 gallon pots filled with fresh potting mix into which I'd incorporated fertilizer at a light rate of about 5 oz of N/cu yd. The fertilizers varied (I'm experimenting), and the other bushes are healthy and aren't exhibiting similar symptoms. The only unique thing about this one was that I used an organic fertilizer mix that included about 1 oz of 12-0-0 powdered fish fertilizer (as well as kelp and alfalfa meals, both of which have been problem-free for me in the past). The reddening, as you can see, progresses from oldest to newest leaves, and eventually the leaves drop. It's almost like it thinks that it's October rather than August. My best guess is that the fish fertilizer was a bit too strong for it, but, then again, this doesn't really look like fertilizer burn. I know that these kinds of things are hard to pin down, but I'd be interested to know if anyone has any theories as to what's going on here...

This post was edited by shazaam on Sat, Aug 24, 13 at 15:09

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Autumn approaching, going to make a beautiful red.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 4:10PM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

You're right -- that's exactly what it looks like, except that I wouldn't expect the leaves to begin turning until October. Maybe it's entering dormancy early as a response to stress?

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 4:34PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Standard operating procedure, although they look like they might need a little nitrogen. Not sure if it's the lighting or what, but the leaves could be a little darker green. Maybe the fertilizer will kick in and darken then up a bit. Just my .02.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 5:57PM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

That's a good point, Ed -- the leaves are definitely a bit pale. All of my blueberries receive a light dose of MirAcid at every watering, though, so it really shouldn't be short on available nitrogen. Instead, I suspect that the pale foliage is a further symptom of whatever's prompting the color change. At the rate the leaves are turning and dropping, it won't have any leaves left in a week or two. By comparison, none of my other blueberries show symptoms that are even remotely similar -- they're all continuing to push out new growth like they should be. This guy, on the other hand, is just shutting down.

An aside for Ed -- Since it's lighter on N than most other CRFs, I've been meaning to ask you how much Shake'n Feed you incorporate per gallon for your blueberries. Also, do you apply it more than once in the growing season? I'm currently trying it out on two small rabbiteyes, and so far they're doing very well. Since I potted them up late in the season, I went with a light dose, but I'm probably going to try it out on some plants next year, as well.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 9:10PM
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