Note to readers, attached is the complete final report for FNE03-476.
Walkway weed suppression in new plantings was achieved with the establishment to two types of fine leafed turf fescues and monthly mowing. Parallel to this project is the evaluation of different mulches intended to reduce weed competition in the rows of blueberries. Mulch comparisons in the first year of this multi-year study include pine bark mulch, hardwood mulch, coffee grinds, cocoa grinds, municipal leaf mulch and composted tea leaves. 3′ X 12′ plots were replicated 4 times in 4 adjoining rows. Applications of 3-4 inches of these mulches within the crop row to a new planting of Duke high bush blueberry have provided a combined weed control level of over 95% during 2003.
This study is proving to be a solid tool in evaluating the usefulness of permanent cover in organic blueberries. The fact that permanent cover can be affordably established in an effort to eliminate bare ground tilling is positive. This newly established cover is out competing weeds, reducing erosion and providing a working ally that is not so impacted b your adverse climate conditions of 2003. With respect to reestablishing the ecology of soil life, much more time, resources and science-based investigation is needed. We will continue to take soil samples and monitor the complex changes in soil.
In addition, the organic blueberry grower may need to resort to OMRI approved materials as Scythe, Burnout, white vinegar and corn gluten. These non-selective and non-persistent herbicides may find a place in per-plant situations and weed management between rows along with the cultural methods described.