Production Costs and Techniques for Blueberry Establishment in Eastern Kentucky
The 1/3-acre plot for this blueberry planting was subsoiled and raised beds laid. 216 blueberry plants were planted in April 2004. Labor times for planting, mulching, picking flowers, and weed control were observed through the season as consistent with hypothetical estimates.
Two kinds of mulch (sawdust, shavings) were applied through this season due to newly limited availability of other mulch locally.
Plant mortality was very low during the first season. Only 2 plants (<1%) appear to have died during the first year. Plant vigor was not optimal, due to soil fertility issues. Foliage began turning its characteristic red about a month earlier than expected. This was noted and is being compensated for through an aggressive plan using 3-4 applications of organic fertilizer beginning in Feb. 2005.
There were three primary objectives for this project in its first year:
1. Plot Establishment
Plot establishment was fulfilled through the efforts of the landowner, assisted by various Extension personnel.
2. Mulching Regimen
Plot was mulched in accordance with submitted project design using local sawdust and shavings.
3. Establishment Cost Log
A complete log was kept for establishment costs and labor times, to be compiled with second year estimates.
The primary accomplishment of this project for 2004 was the low rate of plant mortality (<1%). This was achieved through regular watering during a very rainy season and low pest pressure.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
This project made a good addition in a state where blueberry production is attracting more interest from landowners.
After the plot field night, held at the beginning of October, one attending farm asked for the source of plants to make their order for a Spring 2005 blueberry planting.
This plot is also serving as a place for interested landowners in East-Central Ky. to visit to learn more about blueberry establishment.