Thursday, June 12, 2014

Blueberry Pruning

I pruned my blueberries this year in the spring of 2014 for the first time.  The changes were noted immediately in my production for this year. 
I attended a workshop put on by Dr. Bill Cline with NC State University at Janet Peterson's blueberry farm, Cloud 9 in Fairview NC.  Right after the workshop, while under the freshness of how to properly prune, I got out my shears and started to work on my crop.
The results are evident.  My blueberries were bigger and the plants not affected by disease were definitely better looking.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for the root fungus that is attacking some of my plants.  So I pruned those plants by pulling them out of the ground and closing off the area where they grew.
Lots of space for sunlight

Large size berries need fresh stems to produce on

Downy Mildew Is Present

Unfortunately, the reality of growing hops in the East means that there will be a good chance of those plants getting devastating disease problems.  Here at the farm, we definitely have downy mildew and some root fungus problems that are killing my plants after 8 years.

I will have to start treatments as soon as possible and get rid of all signs of the disease.  Also, I will not be able to plant any more hops in the area where my root disease problems are.

Most of these problems were accelerated from last years six and one half feet of rain!  Hops hate "wet feet" and I had plenty of water here last year.  In fact, in the month of July 2013, we had 14 inches of rain during the first 14 days of that month.  50 of my blueberry plants also suffered a root fungus death that cannot be cured. 

Note in the photo's below what these problems look like.  Just bear in mind that the best practices are to use drip irrigation, have raised beds, and stay on top of your pruning and weeding.  The bottom line is that your production and plant growth will be severely affected, and if not taking care of, will kill your plants.
Downy mildew "spike"
 Note the small leaves and short space between the leaves on the vine, this one indicator of the presence of downy mildew.  It is important to get rid of these as soon as you find them and to keep your tools clean between working on different plants.
Blueberry rows showing lack of plants and stunted plants
The above picture shows the areas affected by the root fungus from the mycelium of a puffball mushroom that will kill the root system of the blueberry plants.  There is no cure and the area can't be used to plant in again.

Hops Growing Workshop And Tour Schedule change

Hey folks, just to let you know there will be no general tours at the farm on Saturday June,14 or on Saturday June 21.  The general tour will be held on Sunday at 2 PM  June 15.

On June 22nd, we will be putting on our annual Hops Growing Workshop.  Here you will learn everything you might want to know about growing hops from the site selection to the packaging of the final hop product.

The tour will begin at 1 PM at the Hop'n Blueberry Farm near Black Mountain, NC.  Expect to receive lots of information and gets hands on experience with very detailed questions answered.  Be sure to bring a pen and paper as there will be an abundance of details exchanged!

The cost is $15/person.  Buy your tickets now to reserve your spot using PayPal.
Call 828-664-1166 for more information.
Purchase tickets here