Blueberry Water Needs Highlighted During Southeast Regional

Clint ThompsonBlueberries, Florida, Georgia

By Clint Thompson

Water requirements for blueberries was highlighted during the Southeast (SE) Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference.

Wes Porter, University of Georgia Extension Precision Ag and Irrigation Specialist, focused his presentation on water needs for one of the Southeast’s most important fruit crops.

Wes Porter

“In the springtime when we start getting ready to put on buds and flowers, our water usage is going to ramp up all the way through fruit fill,” Porter said. “When you start having bud break happening and those plants are coming back active, the minute that it happens, you’re going to see the water use slowly ramping up.”

Smartirrigation Blueberry App

Porter’s talk centered on a Smartirrigation Blueberry App, a tool designed to help growers know when and how to irrigate their crop. Peak water use is estimated to be between an inch and an inch and a half per week. But producers should be cautious in how they apply the water.

“We’d rather back off and divide that weekly water requirement across the entire week and do it every day or every other day in microshots,” Porter said. “We’re going to run it for a third of an inch today, wait a day, apply a third of an inch, wait a day and then another third of an inch. Or we could run it every day for a quarter of an inch. Divide that water use up across your week.

“If it does rain, yes, you don’t want to irrigate those days, or back off and account for the rainfall during that time.”

Blueberry growers can avoid applying too much at one time and not enough at other times if they divide their irrigation applications more evenly. It creates a more efficient management system for the producer.

“If we keep that bed at a consistent or more stable content by doing those microshots, the plants are just a lot better,” Porter said.