Good Fruit Grower

February 1

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 17 of 55

Blueberry trees? Blueberry trees could be machine harvested, boosting fruit yields. by Richard Lehnert ould a blueberry tree be better than a blueberry bush? Oregon State University researcher Wei Qiang Yang has a couple of reasons to think so. First, he says, in machine harvest of blueberry bushes, 15 to 20 percent of the berries are lost. The catch plates that collect the blueberries as they fall after being shaken free can't close tightly around the multiple stems of bushes, so many of the berries simply drop to the ground. The plates could close better around a single stem. Second, blueberries now grow on their own roots. To grow blueberries on trunks would require grafting them to rootstocks, and rootstocks could be bred and selected for important traits, such as nutrient uptake efficiency, tolerance to soilborne diseases, and high soil pH. Yang, who is both a researcher and an extension agent in Oregon's major blueberry production region around the North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora where he works, has tested grafted blueberry trees that grow on single stems since 2005. PHOTO BY LYNN KETCHUM. W Grafted blueberry trees in test plots at Oregon State University's North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora, Oregon. Consider for your next planting: Krymsk®5 Krymsk®6 [cv. VSL-2, USPP 15,723] [cv. LC-52, USPP 16,114] Dwarfing Cherry Rootstock BENEFITS: • Disease tolerant • Cold hardy • Adapts well to all cherry-growing districts • Forms flower buds and comes into bearing quicker than Mazzard with a better distribution of flower buds Roots available for SPRING DELIVERY Call Tree Connection: 800-421-4001 "Krymsk® 5 and Krymsk® 6 cherry rootstocks have proven to be the best rootstock for our orchards. They are yield efficient, grow and adapt well, and are cold hardy." 503-538-2131 • FAX: 503-538-7616 • BRUCE PONDER 18 FEBRUARY 1, 2014 GOOD FRUIT GROWER • SUSAN WILKINSON "Right now, we are just trying to prove the concept." —Wei Qiang Yang tiny berries are full of seeds and the fruit has a bad taste, Yang said. Yang obtained sparkleberry seeds, grew them, and then grafted highbush blueberry scions from Liberty, Aurora, and Draper varieties onto the wild-growing plants. He now has a research plantation of blueberry trees. Grafting —John Morton The Dalles, Oregon Sparkleberry In a telephone interview with Good Fruit Grower, Yang said he first saw blueberry trees in eastern Texas, where a hobbyist had grafted a southern rabbiteye blueberry variety onto a wild-growing native blueberry, called a sparkleberry. In the wild, some sparkleberry plants grow on a single stem to heights of up to ten feet. But their • ADAM WEIL • DAVE WEIL "There are 180 grafted blueberry trees (30 each of six cultivars) and 180 blueberry bushes, so I can compare them side by side in the field scientifically," he said. "The plant spacing for the blueberry tree is three feet apart between plants and ten feet between the planting rows with grass middles. They are all planted on flat ground, no raised beds." So far, yields from the Aurora and Draper trees have been equal to those from bushes, but Liberty trees have lagged behind. Taste of the berries has not been affected by the rootstock. Yang is collaborating with researchers at land-grant universities in California and Florida as part of a multistate effort. All are testing several blueberry varieties grafted onto rootstocks. Yang himself has a rootstock

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Good Fruit Grower - February 1