emereld blueberry

treedanOctober 24, 2013

my leafs turned to a lighter shade of green then started to curl, i do not see any "rust". is the plant dry? or could it have had too much water? my sunshine blues are doing great i wanted to use this plant for cross pollination

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If the leaves start to yellow, chances are the soil pH is too high. Not sure where you live-it might be worth the trouble to find out the pH of your tap water.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 6:10PM
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im on the zone 9/10 boarder in fl. i my other 2 blue berries are doing good, if the ph is too high, will adding coffee help make it more acidic?

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 10:44PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

The coffee doesn't really help with PH. It's a great in compost, or even as a mulch. Sunshine Blue is a great plant, it can take PH swings better than most. But my experience is that leaves turn red with the wrong PH. Yellow may be a watering issue? In either case PH is so important to get right, it is worth looking into. Yellowing can be from too moist or too dry too.
If in ground you can use sulfur, sold at all garden centers. it takes a least 6 months to work. Again why PH is so important to get right. If the plant was not under stress I would use Ammonium Sulfate fertilizer, but not a good idea if plant is stressed too much. Maybe a very low dose, like 1/2 teaspoon/2.5 gallons.of water. Once plant is normal use 1 teaspoon once a month while growing for 2-3 months, I would not use anymore. It will lower PH around roots very quickly! Another way to lower PH quickly is to have plant in a 5-1-1 mixture 5 parts pine or Douglas fir bark fines (must be small, check out container forum for details) 1 part peat, and 1 part perlite. PH of mix is around 5.0. It's difficult to find pine bark at the right size. Fafard potting soil, especially the 52 mix is very close to what you need too. PH is also low!
You may also want to look into collecting rain water, most city water will eventually drive the PH too high. I'm in the Detroit area and city water is 7.8. Adding vinegar is a temporary fix as it breaks down. Sulfuric acid is better. Battery acid is a quick way to obtain it, but regular sulfuric acid is sold at Amazon. You need though to be extremely careful, and you need very little. I myself collect enough rain water, I stopped using any additives to city water.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 11:25PM
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Is it planted in the ground and if so,what is your soil like,(sand?)Also what's your water source's pH?
Coffee may help a little,but it may take something more. Brady

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 11:28PM
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yes i have it in the ground, my soild is a dark grey/light black black, not to compact but not sandy(as some pars of my area are very sandy). saldy im using city water, should i switch it bottled? untill i can start collecting rainwater? when i stuck my finger in the gorund yesterday the soil was dry about 1 1/2 down, ive been giving water every other day but the gound gets dry fast here. a ffew friends localy have had issues with emerelds dying in this area too

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 8:16AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

City water has less effect on in ground plants. But so does sulfur. I would at least buy some sulfur and spread around plant, follow package directions. If others are having problems it might not be you. It is rare to have soil that is good for blueberries. As I said Sunshine Blue is tolerant of bad soil or PH problems, at least more so than most blueberries.
Bottled water I think is neutral, but I would not bother with it.
Using ammonium sulfate, which is super cheap btw, would help keep soil acidic, but it is easy to kill plants with it. Really only experienced growers should use it.
Keep soil moist, not wet, not dry.
Maybe just stick to Sunshine Blue, it can pollinate itself, although you would probably get more berries with another variety present.
I grow in raised beds. our soil here is way too basic to support blueberries. The west side is sandy and PH is low, and perfect for blueberries, but I'm in the clay-based east side of the state. My beds are very acidic, prepared a year ahead of time to make sure sulfur was working. It paid off my blueberries are growing extremely well.
If you want to expand to other varieties, you need to do a lot of homework. Find out PH of soil, if basic raised beds may be a better option. We have lot's of experienced growers here but nobody else has responded so far.
In pots is another way, but it has it's problems too.
Getting a rain barrel would help, but you will find it is hard to collect enough. I expanded mine to collect more, it's not easy, takes up room etc. Depends how committed you are to growing blueberries.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 9:24AM
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the 2 sunshine blues i have i got almost dead on clearance and they have come back strong and fast and trippled in size, but this emereld seems to be more picky. today it looks better, slightly more green. maybe it was just the soil being too dry? ill know in anthor week or two with follow up care

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 9:41AM
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A few questions for you:

How long have you had these plants?

Do you know the Ph of your native soil where you planted it?

Did you amend the soil with anything when planting?

Do you have at least a 3 inch layer of acidic mulch like pine bark around your plant? If so does it extend well past the drip line?

Did you remove any competeing plants from the area?

These plants are very easy to grow armed with the right info and as stated above you really do have to be committed to growing these things to have success. Attention do detail is a must! They can be very hard to grow other wise.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 8:10PM
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the 2 sunshines i havehad for 3 months there doing great, the emerald i planted 2 months ago, no i do not have any much but i do have a large pine tree on the back end so i have acess to alot of pine needles. i do not know the ph of the soil have alot of plants on the property the emerald blue berry is the unhappy one. the leaves have been turning back to there dark green and the plant is looking better but there is still some curled leafs at the top. no i did not add anything when i planted just removed from pot and droped in the gound. all my other plants require very little care im slowly geting into these harder plants

    Bookmark   October 26, 2013 at 12:03PM
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Some plants are adapted to acidic soils, including blueberries, azaleas, rhododendrons, mountain laurel, and heather. Most likely these plants grow wild in places that have sustained heavy deposits of volcanic ash, which is often high in sulfur, at some point in the last 10,000 years. As you might expect, plants from this group are often found growing on the slopes and foothills of volcanoes. Since much of North America has soil based on eroded limestone, which is alkaline, many of us have soil which is not suitable for ericaceous plants. It is possible to amend alkaline soils to lower pH, and grow acid-loving plants successfully. But first you have to measure the initial soil pH, and also the pH of your irrigation water. It can get a little complicated, but not that complicated.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2013 at 1:52PM
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No doubt your plants are suffering and will continue to do so. Chances are your soil Ph isnt right for them and I would do one of two things. Either pull them up and put them in pots with an acidic mix or the best option for production would be a raised bed at least 10 inches high by 5ft wide with acidic mix. Im growing a few of mine in 10 inch by 4ft wide beds on top of alkaline clay soil. Ive also got a bunch in 10 to 25 gallon pots. In most places around the US you cant just put them in the ground and expect them to live. Most soils are not acidic enough for blues. The soil mix I use for the raised beds and pots is 50-60% pine bark mulch, 30-40% peat moss and 10-20% perilite. That mix has worked like a charm for me. If you can use rain water your Ph wont drift much if at all and with that mix your in the right Ph range right off the bat. If using well water or municiple water depending on the bicarbonates you will chase the Ph from year to year and eventually fail unless its acidified. Blues also require much more water than most. That is where the mulch comes in. They must have at least a 3 inch layer of mulch (preferably pine bark mulch) to help keep the roots cool and moist. A 4 to 6 inch layer is even better. During the summer they need water every single day! Even now Im watering every other day. Once they are dormant, usually by mid December here, its cool enough and wet enough that you wont have to water unless a week of warm weather sets in with no rain. Once spring hits I start off watering every 3 days and gradually get back to every day by May.

I will also add that Emerald is the strongest growing and fruiting blueberry out of my collection. Berries the size of quarters!!! If its not out growing your other plants by leaps and bounds then its not happy. I have a 4-5 year old in a raised bed thats 7ft tall by 7ft wide. That particular variety is a beast in all catagories. If you can get them into the right growing enviroment you will be very impressed with it. I promise!!!!

    Bookmark   October 27, 2013 at 1:22AM
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Excellent writeup guys.That explains it about as good as I've ever read. Brady

This post was edited by Bradybb on Sun, Oct 27, 13 at 11:12

    Bookmark   October 27, 2013 at 3:42AM
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so far i have got some awsome adivce, last question do these blue berries lose there leaves in winter?e being on the zone 9/10 boarder alot of local plants are evergreens

    Bookmark   October 27, 2013 at 9:56AM
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Im on the boarder of zone 9a/b where the two meet. Sunshine looses most of its leafs and retains a few at the ends of the branches for me. Emerald will keep almost all its leaves and flower all winter long. These flowers will make fruit but they will not sweeten up. Its best to remove them. The main bloom for Emerald is in
Feb and a site to behold! The plant is drop dead gorgous in full bloom!

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 3:48AM
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alan haigh

The idea that acidic soil is caused by volcanic origins is something I can't find any confirmation of (just finished a brief search). I was taught that the primary source of acidic soils has to do with rain leaching out the base components- therefore areas of high rainfall tend to be acidic, although the existence of ample lime stone in a soil will counter this. Lesser reasons include application of acidic fertilizer and air pollution.

I'd welcome any information that supports the claim of volcanic origins of acidic soil.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 8:02AM
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Harvestman, if you ever get the chance to visit Oregon, I hope you are able to drive up to Government Camp & then on up to Timberline Lodge, on the slopes of Mt Hood. This lodge was built by CCC people during the depression, and it has all sorts of architectural details that make it a landmark. On the way to Mt Hood, you will pass through the town of Rhododendron. If you decide to climb the mountain, you will encounter a spot where clouds of warm vapor emanate from the ground, and these openings are called fumaroles. Some people will try to use this spot as a source of warmth, but the vapors are heavy with hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide, and they can make you sick, so it is best to keep moving. This is not an argument, I am suggesting that you go there and see for yourself. The soil in Indiana raises a question. The state is pretty much flat, and it has mostly alkaline clay soils, with limestone bedrock. But there are swaths of the landscape with acidic soil pH. I am not aware of any rainfall pattern that could account for this. To my knowledge, rainfall is more or less uniform north to south, and east to west, across the state. I suspect that the acidic soils in Indiana are located where heavy deposits of volcanic ash were laid down in the distant past. It could have been as long ago as the mega event at Yellowstone, Montana. That volcano blew up something like 600,000 years ago.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 10:04AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

The west side of Michigan is all coral sand and averages about 5.0. Great for blueberries, and why we produce a lot here. Rain does move fast through this calcium based coral sand. Anyway our west side is acidic from anchient ocean beds of coral.
The east side is all basic clay. Giving us a huge range of plants that grow in this state.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 10:40AM
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That's interesting Drew,I thought calcium was more alkaline. Brady

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 12:07PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

"That's interesting Drew,I thought calcium was more alkaline. Brady"

Apparently it is when first exposed, but after weathering, rain etc, it stabilizes to 5.0 in western MI. As Harvestman says the rain leaches out the alkalinity. I'm not really aware of what's going on chemically? If it acid rain, or just a natural occurance with exposure to the elements? Maybe the calcium is washed out, leaving the sand acidic? In some forms it's really neutral like gypsum.
Anyway I don't understand the process, maybe someone can explain it better?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 1:45PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Still not explaing the process for me, still some info from OSU

Rainfall is most effective in causing soils to become acidic if a
lot of water moves through the soil rapidly. Sandy soils are
often the first to become acidic because water percolates
rapidly, and sandy soils contain only a small reservoir of bases
(buffer capacity) due to low clay and organic matter contents.
Since the effect of rainfall on acid soil development is very
slow, it may take hundreds of years for new parent material to
become acidic under high rainfall.

Calcium is mostly basic, but the leaching effect must remove it from the coral sand. The only explanation that makes sense.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cause and Effects

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 1:52PM
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