Problems with Blueberries

m5allenNovember 13, 2012

Is there something wrong with my blueberry plant? The leaves just starting looking like crap lately with these little spots. I can't tell if it is a fungus or are the leaves just starting to go dormant?

I would think it would be kind of strange to make it through the whole hot and humid summer and now get a fungus.

This is one of my sweetcrisps, but I am also seeing similar spots on my Windsor.

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m5allen

Here is another pic.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 10:47PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

100% normal. It is just what starts to happen this time of year. Your leaves are actually in good shape and will last till Christmas at least which is what you want to happen.

Where did you get your sweetcrisp plants?

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 7:16AM
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m5allen

Thanks Bamboo, you are always really helpful with the blueberries.

I got my Sweetcrisps from my friend who owns Berry Edible nursery here in St. Pete.

Can you help me out with a pruning question as well - I have read 2 things about pruning - 1) prune when dormant or 2) prune the oldest canes just after harvest. Should I be doing any pruning this winter? Thanks.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 8:57AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

M5Allen,

You will love those sweetcrisps:) I have 50 or so and they are head and shoulders above every other variety out there. The reason I asked where you got them is a lot of people bought them from Florida Hill Nursery and they were not sweetcrisps, glad you had a different source.

Your plants look very young. What you have read about pruning is 100% correct, both of them. When dormant you want to remove the scrubby growth around the base and basically anything that does not grow up or prune those side branches to a upward facing bud. In say June or whenever the harvest is over we prune and that pruning causes another flush of growth. Basically pruning them makes them grow larger than they would if we didn't prune....it is kind of a thinker lol. Seems to not make sense but does. After that as the new flush grows you would pinch the tips to cause branching which makes the plant fuller. That is just a southern thing....up north if they pruned after harvest they would not have any berries the following year. Our very long growing season allows us to prune late and still leave the plants enough time to grow and ripen new fruit buds.

Now after all that to answer your question....NO, don't prune it at all. Young plants need all the leaves they can get. The pruning starts in a couple years. You would be wise to remove the fruit buds from the plant or at least most of them. Starting in Mid February start hitting that plant with fertilizer weekly to get some size on it. I would recommend Ammonium sulfate at 1/2 tsp per gallon of water and once you start to see some good growth up it to 1 tsp per gallon. Just make sure the soil is well watered before you add the ammonium sulfate water. Best is to water one day and next day use the fert water. It will take off and put on some bull shoots. Even though you should not prune you can and should start pinching next spring to make the plant fuller and fuller means more leaves so faster growth.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 9:19AM
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m5allen

Thanks again Bamboo. I am not sure how old my plants are, but I would guess that they were about 2 years old when I bought them this past spring. I am excited about the Sweetcrisps. I have tasted Sweetcrisp before and mine are definitely the real deal. They had a few berries when I bought them, I love those sweet berries. But I have read that the production is not quite as high as other varieties. I have 2 Sweetcrisps, 2 Emeralds and a Windsor. I read that the Windsor is better suited to north FL, so I am hoping I can get some fruit here in St. Pete. I guess I will see this spring.

So you recommend sacrificing fruit this year for growth. I don�t know if my patience can hold out for another year.

There wasn�t a ton of fruit on all my plants this spring and I got some good growth after that. I fertilized with Miracle Gro for acid loving plants, they seemed to respond well to that. Should I go with the ammonium sulfate instead of the Miracle Gro? The downside to the good growth I got is that it invited lots of aphids and thrips, so that has been a constant battle. I did a lot of spraying with wettable sulfur, neem and insecticide soap.

I have found blueberry plants to be pretty high maintenance.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 10:54AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

M5Allen,

From the pictures they look small but could just be the perspective. If they are not small plants let them fruit. The nice thing with the sweetcrisps is they produce only a medium number of fruit buds so no thinning needed. That trait is bad for the commercial folks but good for us. The commercial guys don't care how the BB taste they just want dark blue, big and abundant.

Windsor fruits fine here but I am 60 miles north of you.

I find BB to be insect free. Never get any aphids on them at all or thrips. They do require some care especially as to the watering and mulching.

Miracle grow acid is good for them both soil and foliar sprays. I have found the ammonium sulfate really makes them take off though. It can't be used as the sole fertilizer as it is just 21-0-0 with no trace minerals. I use the ammonium and once every couple months use a dry fert made just for the BB. Because I acidify the water I find the ammonium sulfate so easy to use as it dissolves in water instantly. In my 300 gallon tank I add 4 cups of the ammonium sulfate and a 1.25 cups of 98% sulfuric acid and the plants go.

If you want the plants to grow fast ignore the stuff you read on the web and switch to weekly feedings and just use 1/4 as much as you would have used monthly.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 12:20PM
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