Pulsed drip irrigation increases growth and production of northern highbush blueberry and floricane-fruiting red raspberry on loam or silt loam soils
Pulsed drip irrigation is the practice of irrigating in a series of short pulses multiple times a day until the desired amount of water is applied. When managed properly, pulsing can supply water and nutrients at an optimum rate for root uptake and thereby increase plant growth and production. However, with the exception of strawberry, the practice has not been well studied in berry crops. The objective of the present study was to determine if pulsed drip irrigation was beneficial relative to single applications of water every day or two in northern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L. Draper) and floricane-fruiting red raspberry (Rubus idaeus L. Wakefield). Both studies were conducted in mature, commercial fields located in Washington, USA. Soil at the sites were loam and silt loam, respectively. Plants in the blueberry field were managed organically and harvested for the fresh market, while those in the raspberry field were managed conventionally and harvested for the processed market. Within the first year of application, pulsing increased yield in blueberry by 2200 kg ha‑1 when irrigation was applied at a fixed rate (grower based) and by 3290 kg ha‑1 when irrigation was scheduled based on daily estimates of crop evapotranspiration. Pulsing also increased yield by 1230 kg ha‑1 in year 2 and 1210 kg ha‑1 in year 3 when irrigation was applied at a fixed rate in raspberry. Based on current market prices, increases in production with pulsed drip were equivalent to US$ 11,680-21,160 ha‑1 in blueberry and US$ 2,420-2,460 ha‑1 year‑1 in raspberry. Higher production was due primarily to greater berry size in blueberry and to more and larger floricanes in raspberry. Overall, pulsed drip irrigation appears to be a promising method for improving production of blueberry and raspberry, but more research on the use of this practice on other soil types is needed.
Carroll, J., Singh, S., Gregory, A., Retano, A., Orr, S., Benedict, C., DeVetter, L., Peters, T. and Bryla, D. (2023). Pulsed drip irrigation increases growth and production of northern highbush blueberry and floricane-fruiting red raspberry on loam or silt loam soils. Acta Hortic. 1373, 5-10
fruit quality, Rubus idaeus, Vaccinium corymbosum, water management, yield