Grazing Sheep in Organic Lowbush Blueberry Fields to Control Weeds and Increase Yields

Final Report for FNE02-431

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2002: $3,602.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2002
Region: Northeast
State: Maine
Project Leader:
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Project Information

Summary:

Note to readers, attached is the complete final report for FNE02-431.

It would not be economically feasible to purchase sheep solely for grazing organic blueberry fields, as they would only be able to graze the fields for a short time between weed emergence and blueberry emergence. However, if you already owned sheep, it may be economically feasible to rotationally graze them on organic blueberry fields.

This project generated several new ideas about weed control in organic blueberry fields. They are as follows:

1) We found that the sheep would not eat second year growth blueberry plants. These plants were harvested in the prior year. It may prove useful to rotationally graze them on a second year production field to minimize all weed species throughout the field. Some growers do no follow the standard burn in spring, let the plants grow that year, harvest the following year, preferring to harvest two years in a row before burning (pruning) again. In this case, on a conventional field, sheep could be grazed on fields and would have, I feel, a significant effect on the grassy weeds without having a negative effect on the harvest-able blueberry plants. Organic farms could not use this method due to the requirement of needing to have the sheep off the field 90 days prior to harvest because of the manure issue.

Cooperators

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  • David Power

Research

Participation Summary
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.