Citric Acid and Blueberries

riverman1September 2, 2012

I was recently talking to a blueberry farmer and he told me that many of the area blueberry orchards are growing "organic blueberries" and using citric acid to acidify the soil.

Our soils here are at about a pH of 7............anyone tried citric acid with blues? I'm wondering if it might not be a better option than some of the other additives we frequently discuss here.


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It's an acid,so I'm sure it will work.But if it's cost effective is another question. Brady

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 11:20PM
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IF they are using it on huge blueberry farms they must have an economic way of using it........the soil they are using it on is quite sandy too, the water goes right through it.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 12:20AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


It is just like using vinegar. Citric acid is an organic acid and when the bacteria act on it the PH lowering affect is lost. They can't use sulfuric as it isn't organic but sulfuric is the best way to go. The organic rules are simply stupid....they could dump crude oil on the plants and fruit and still sell them as organic even though it would kill the plants and if you if you ate it. Yet sulfuric that is harmless is not allowed.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 9:26AM
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Lol........yea I find it funny too how people work around the edges of "organic" just so they can sell an "organic" product. I did find it interesting though that they are using citric acid on farms that are hundreds of acres in size and I don't recall a discussion here concerning the use of citric acid on blues.


    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 12:15PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

There are not a lot of alternatives if you want to stay certified organic. I'm sure it must be more cost effective to use the citric than say iron sulphate.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 4:22PM
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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

garden sulfur is OK by organic rules AFAIK. Put that on the soil, and the bacteria turn it into sulfuric acid to lower pH. Not as fast as sulfuric acid, but easier to handle IMO, since garden sulfur won't burn your hands or eyes in the even of a spill or splash.

Citric acid is very easy for soil microbes to use as a carbon source (ie energy), so it's hard to imagine it changes the pH for long.


    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 9:22PM
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The pertinent Organic food law allows the use of agricultural sulfur to lower soil pH. This material is readily available at a reasonable price. I wonder why citric acid is being used. Maybe sulfur does not work well on sandy soil.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 10:51AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


The reason citric acid is being used is to stay inside the organic food certification standards. The reason why the acid, be it the poor choices of vinegar or citric acids or the best but non organic sulfuric acid is being used at all is the high bicarbonate levels in our water.

Take us here in Florida as an example. Our BB wake up in February and need a lot of water but our reliable rains do not start until June/July. Our aquifer is made up of limerock and adds a ton of bicarbonates to the water.

Pelletted sulfur takes a long time to break down in the soil and it is hard to get the PH just right for maximum plant growth and production. If you acidify the water you have instant control over the PH and the bicarbonates in the water are neutralized. There is also the added benefit of fertilizing right through the watering lines. Once our rains start we stop the acid and let the soft rainwater do the work for us.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 12:02PM
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I think bamboo nailed it........the thing I don't like about sulfur is it takes way too long to drop the PH and then when it does drop you don't know where it will end up. My guess is that with the citric acid they have much better control over the PH.........obviously it's working for these farms, the fields are HUGE!!

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 11:34PM
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