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Have you Pruned your Blueberries Yet


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Have you Pruned your Blueberries Yet?

The popularity of Blueberries as a super food has increased the demand for the fruit and made blueberries an increasingly popular and common plant grown in southern California gardens. Blueberries are commonly associated with colder climates and acidic soils, and older varieties did not adapt well or produce well in our environments because of their high chilling requirements and high pH in our native soils.

Breeding efforts in the US and UC Research trials have demonstrated that a number of varieties with lower chill requirements adapt very well to Southern California. Varieties like Sharpblue, Misty, Star, O’Neal, Emerald, Southmoon, Rebel, Jewel and others adapted well to our regions and produce fruit from February (on the coast) to June (in inland valleys) depending on the specific microclimate. Newer and earlier varieties are coming out almost yearly, but only available for commercial growers and not for backyard gardens.

In addition to soil PH Management, pruning is the second most important practice for blueberry production. Most pruning information available on the internet is based on blueberry growing habits in cold climates where the plants go deciduous in the winter months. Under these conditions, pruning is recommended and usually done in the Spring, before bud break occurs.

Blueberries are evergreen in Southern California, they don’t drop their leaves in winter and so pruning must be done in late Spring or early summer, soon after the harvest is over. The earlier the pruning after harvest, the better, because depending on microclimate this may allow for a second, albeit smaller, fruiting season in the fall.

So, have you pruned your blueberries yet? If not, now is the time to do it!! As a general rule, you want to remove all wood that has fruited back to the strongest cane that you want to keep. You must also remove older canes and broken or crossing limbs in order to create an open vase shaped plant. The following videos show how to prune a young blueberry plant and for more information about growing blueberries in Southern California please contact UC Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor Ramiro Lobo at relobo@ucanr.edu.


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