Learn about the characteristics of the blueberry

The nutritional content and versatility of blueberries are some of the reasons why growing this fruit is a great option. Blueberry plants are perennial shrubs that are generally well adapted to the environmental and seasonal conditions of the northern hemisphere. However, there are varieties developed to withstand tropical climates and produce good yields.

In this article, we will delve into the root morphology of blueberries – read on to learn more!

What are the characteristics of blueberries?

Blueberries require specific soil characteristics due to the plant's unique root system. Unlike other perennial fruit crops, blueberries belong to the rhododendron family, and these plants do not have a dominant taproot or roots that penetrate deep into the soil. Instead, the root system of highbush blueberries consists primarily of fine, fibrous roots, with 50% to 60% of the roots located in the first foot of soil, within 20 to 30 centimeters from the base.

The fibrous roots of blueberries lack root hairs, resulting in a relatively low absorption capacity. To compensate for this, most nutrients are absorbed through the finer roots, which have an average diameter of approximately 20 to 75 micrometers. For comparison, human hair is approximately 80 micrometres in diameter.

To make up for the lack of root hairs, blueberries have developed an association with endomycorrhizal fungi that inhabit the root cells and facilitate the absorption of water and nutrients for the blueberry plant. However, the survival of endomycorrhizal fungi is compromised in production systems that use inorganic fertilisers and intensive cultivation practices, and in these situations, roots may be less efficient in absorbing water and nutrients.

Considerations for optimal blueberry root development

  • The solubility and availability of most minerals is determined by the pH of the soil. In this respect, blueberries require an acid soil with a pH range between 4.0 and 5.5.
  • A blueberry crop requires a well-managed drainage, as the roots cannot penetrate compacted soils and have a limited tolerance to excessively wet or dry soils.
  • The surface root system is sensitive to both high and low temperature extremes.
  • Blueberries can only tolerate small amounts of nitrogen at a time, but this important nutrient is necessary at all stages of growth for healthy development.

CAUTION: There should be no standing water, even during periods of maximum rainfall.

Growing a successful crop

The blueberry substrate, through which the roots of the plants grow and develop, is fundamental to the success of the crop. However, the selection of a high-quality substrate is often overlooked, and the purchase decision is often based solely on price. This mistake can be very costly, as the use of an inappropriate substrate can lead to yield problems and affect the quality of the crops.

It is therefore essential for growers to inform themselves about the different types of materials and how they affect plant growth. Knowing how to choose the right substrate not only improves crop quality, but can also reduce production costs and increase long-term profitability.

The strict and unusual soil requirements for blueberries

The cultivation of blueberries must follow a set of conditions:

  • blueberries need the pH to be between 4.0 and 4.5;
  • blueberries require well-managed drainage because roots cannot penetrate compacted soils and have a limited tolerance to excessively wet or dry soils;
  • blueberries do not have high nutrient requirements and are very sensitive to excessive nutrient levels.

Jiffy solutions for blueberry cultivation

Originally, blueberry growers had to look for specific sites that met their requirements or could be easily handled for production. However, with the growing interest in this fruit, we are seeing a new trend based on the use of soilless substrates throughout the production cycle. This technique avoids the risks associated with poor soil management and allows for increased production in places where blueberries would not grow.

While it is common for growers to use a large plastic container with soilless substrates for blueberry production, these containers can be expensive to fill because of the labor involved and the cost of shipping loose substrates.

Jiffy's EasyFill Growbag is an innovative organic substrate that has proven to be highly effective in blueberry production. It consists of a prefabricated growbag composed of coconut fiber and shipped in compressed form. The Easyfill has a collapsible open top, creating a deep, open container once unfolded.

Jiffy offers six different sizes for its EasyFill Growbags, ranging from 16 x 18.5 x 16 cm to 32 x 32 x 20 cm. The bag has excellent water and nutrient holding capacity, as well as good drainage capacity. In addition, it is easy to use and reduces the time and effort required for substrate preparation.

Quality soil for efficient and profitable production

Choosing a high-quality soil that has the right characteristics for blueberries is a complex process, which can have a significant impact on Return On Investment if not handled correctly. That's why, with its quality and ease of handling, the Jiffy EasyFill Growbag is one of the best options on the market. And this solution is sure to help you overcome the hurdles to success.

If the blueberry market interests you and you want to learn more about how to improve the productivity of your agribusiness, contact us!

Versatile solutions

Jiffy Preforma is the tailor-made plug solution of high-quality substrates. It is bound together and well-suited to both hard-to-root cutting material or demanding mechanized handling. The binder ensures easy automation and no transplant shock.

Fitting your demands

Jiffy's range of substrates include peat-reduced, peat-free and organic certified solutions. We have a long history in delivering the highest-quality substrate mixes with the most uniform characteristics, tailored and tested to meet each crop's specifications.

Peat-free solution

The Jiffy Growbag has unbeatable rooting characteristics. Made of 100% RHP Foundation Certified coco substrates our bags fit every crop. Together with our coco growblocks they deliver a sustainable all-in-one high yield solution.

The compostable classic

Jiffy Pots Original are 100% “home-compostable and approved for organic production. No chemicals are used during the manufacture of Jiffy Pots, which makes them the number-one choice for food crops.