Producing blueberry trees for sustainable blueberry production

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional + Producer
Funds awarded in 2023: $65,857.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2024
Grant Recipients: North Willamette Res & Ext Center; Oregon State University
Region: Western
State: Oregon
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Wei Yang
North Willamette Res & Ext Center
Dr. Yongjian Chang
North American Plants LLC
Sam Doane
J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co.


  • Fruits: berries (blueberries)
  • Additional Plants: trees


  • Crop Production: grafting, nurseries, nutrient management

    Proposal abstract:

    The current commercial blueberry production systems in the northwest require high cultural inputs and extensive harvesting labor to sustain profitability. Growers are increasingly dependent on machine harvesters to meet market demand. However, the natural blueberry plant architecture, particularly the large plant base created by multiple canes, causes up to 15-30% yield loss during mechanical harvesting. A monopodial blueberry tree can eliminate this yield loss and improve harvesting efficiency, thus significantly reducing the cost of harvesting labor. A blueberry tree can be produced by grafting blueberry cultivars onto a monopodial rootstock (Vaccinum arboreum L.). After more than ten years of research at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center of the Oregon State University, this rootstock has been developed. Because the new blueberry rootstock is difficulty to propagated by cuttings, we are requesting funding to work with the Oregon nursery industry to develop and improve the clonal propagation methods, rooting and growing protocols, and grafting techniques to produce blueberry trees. Our research will focus on the expansion of tissue-cultured stage II plantlets, increased rooting percentage, and optimal nutritional needs for growing and grafting the new blueberry rootstock. The outcome of this research will give nursery growers confidence to grow this new and highly beneficial rootstock, therefore producing blueberry trees for commercial blueberry growers. We will disseminate the information on how to produce blueberry trees to  nursery growers through workshops, meetings, publications and online videos. Our project will position Oregon nursery producers as global leaders in a new blueberry tree production market.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Improving the efficiency of producing stage II tissue culture Vaccinium arboreum plantlets (Producer one).
    2. Enhance the rooting percentage of Vaccinium arboreum plantlets (Producer two).
    3. Growing blueberry rootstock (V. arboreum) plants (Principle investigator and producer three).
    4. Grafting blueberry cultivars onto the blueberry rootstock to produce blueberry trees (Principle investigator and producer three).
    5. Disseminate information to nursery growers on how to grow the V. arboreum rootstock and use grafting to produce blueberry trees (Principle investigator).
    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.