Using Plant Sap Analysis to Develop an Optimal Nutrient Profile for Lowbush Blueberries

Project Overview

FNE21-997
Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2021: $14,985.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2023
Grant Recipient: The Benson Place
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Project Leader:
Meredith Wecker
The Benson Place

Commodities

  • Fruits: berries (blueberries)

Practices

  • Crop Production: foliar feeding, nutrient management, other

    Proposal summary:

    Plant sap analysis is a cutting-edge assessment tool that has been successfully used to address a wide range of crop issues relating to yield, insect and disease resistance and crop quality. This project aims to gain knowledge about optimal nutrient levels in the plant sap of lowbush blueberries. After gathering and analyzing plant sap data from plants with very high and very low levels of productivity, fruit quality and disease resistance, key nutrients will be identified for further study. A foliar plan will be designed to supply these nutrients at the levels associated with the healthiest, most productive plants and the impact measured in a series of treatment plots. At the end of the study, a working model for ideal lowbush blueberry plant sap analysis will be created along with an assessment of the economic viability of this approach. The results of this study will be presented at the Wild Blueberry Conference in Maine in 2023 and a video will be shared both on YouTube as well as with agricultural extensions serving wild blueberry farmers.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The objectives are:

    1.       To use sap analysis to identify key macro and micro nutrient variations in low bush blueberry plants that display both very high and very low production, disease resistance and fruit quality.
    2.       To determine the extent to which production, disease resistance, and fruit quality in lowbush blueberries can be increased by foliar applying key macro and micro nutrients to different, larger field plots (containing genetically diverse plants displaying a mix of high, low and average production, disease resistance and fruit quality).
    3. To take the first steps in creating an ideal sap analysis profile for lowbush blueberries. My hope, given the limits and scope of this project would be to provide a useful working profile that could inspire and be refined by further research.

    If this project is successful, growers will have increased information and, if desired, be able to compare sap analysis results from their fields with an ideal profile that is correlated with high levels of plant nutrition in order to obtain improved fruit quality, increased yield and heightened plant immunity. The industry and consumers can benefit from a more profitable, ecological approach. 

    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.