Use of pine bark in soil management of southern highbush blueberry

L. Mejia, R. Darnell, J. Williamson
Southern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) (SHB) requires acidic soils that are well-drained and have high organic matter content. This study was conducted to determine the most suitable soil management system for SHB using pine bark as a soil amendment in a well-drained, sandy soil with the goal of reducing pine bark inputs without affecting plant growth or berry yield. A non-amended treatment (Soil) was compared to three amended treatments: 1) Incorporated (8 cm of pine bark incorporated into the top 15 cm of soil); 2) Incorporated+Mulch (Incorporated plus 8 cm layer of pine bark mulch on top); and 3) Bed (15 cm of pine bark on top of non-amended soil). Plant canopy volumes and pruning weights were similar among the amended treatments but were less for plants in the non-amended treatment. Fruit yields for the amended treatments were similar, but yields for the non-amended treatment were consistently lower than other treatments. However, total yield (summed across 2007-2009) was greater for the Incorporated+Mulch treatment (9,477 g plant-1) than for the Bed (8,037 g plant-1) or the Soil (2,085 g plant-1) treatments but was not different from the Incorporated treatment (8,768 g plant-1) which used less bark than the other soil amendment treatments. Incorporating bark may reduce pine bark inputs and the associated establishment costs without affecting yield or plant size during the first several years following planting.
Mejia, L., Darnell, R. and Williamson, J. (2017). Use of pine bark in soil management of southern highbush blueberry. Acta Hortic. 1180, 355-362
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2017.1180.48
Vaccinium corymbosum, mulch, establishment

Acta Horticulturae