Planning Your Commercial Field

Proper Planning Is Crucial - Talk To Us Early

Best Planning Practices

A properly planned and planted blueberry field is a valuable asset that can last for decades. Although every farm and every growing region is unique, we see the same five factors affecting the long-term success of blueberry plantings around the world:

1.       Marketing Strategy

2.       Site Selection   

3.       Variety Selection

4.       Plant Quality

5.       Design, Management & Cultural Care

 

Marketing Strategy: Begins With The End…

The success and profitability of a blueberry planting is inextricably linked to the market.  Profitability doesn’t depend on yearly price per pound, but on the long-term alignment of a growing strategy with the demands of the target market.  All blueberries aren’t the same, and each market and use is distinct.  Who are the customers? What do they look for?

Having a market-pull plan to guide planting and production decisions can determine the long-term profitability and viability of a planting.  As in any other business, success in the short, medium and long term is most likely when supply aligns with demand. 

Choosing The Right Site

The importance of thoroughly investigating a potential new growing site cannot be over emphasized. Loose, well-drained, friable soils with low or easily modified pH are ideal, as are acidic sites with high organic matter. Water, climate, labor availability, field access and air drainage are also key to assessing a site’s potential. 

Selecting The Best Varieties

Marketing strategy and end use goals should be the very first considerations when selecting your variety mix.  Early, mid, late season; extended availability; fresh, frozen, food product market; being part of a nationally branded marketing strategy; and international export may all be considered. Today there are blueberry varieties geared toward every market, every use and every region.  Leading varieties sell out quickly each year.  To ensure availability of desired varieties, many growers order a year or more in advance. 

We encourage you to talk to us early.

The Best Quality Plant Materials

In commercial blueberry plantings, the initial purchase of quality plant material represents a significant portion of early establishment costs but only a fraction of the lifetime potential revenue from fruit sales. The quality of plant material affects field longevity, disease pressure, productivity, return on investment and, ultimately, success and profitability of the venture.

Starting with virus-tested, true-to-type, legally propagated and distributed, vigorous plants of tissue culture origin grown in Fall Creek’s high health system will help ensure the security and success of your investment.

Field Design, Management & Cultural Care

Visit our Grower Resources page for excellent resources including blueberry books, publications and DVD's that cover a wide range of important topics for commercial growers.

Here are some basics on field design & preparation:

Field Planning

 
Plant Spacing Plants Per Acre
2.5' X 10' = 1,742*
3.0' X 10' = 1,452*
3.5' X 10' = 1,245
4.0' X 10' = 1,089

2.0' X 11' =

1,980
2.5' X 11' = 1,584*
3.0' X 11' = 1,320*
3.5' X 11' = 1,131
2.5' X 12' = 1,452
3.0' X 12' = 1,210

*The most frequently used plant spacings

Organic Matter Volume Requirements

1 cubic yard = 27 cubic feet

7.5 cubic yards = 1 unit

A strip 3 inches deep by 36 inches wide on 10 foot rows uses about 15 units per acre of sawdust or ground bark.  A semi-trailer typically holds from 10 to 14 units of sawdust depending on moisture levels.

Overhead Irrigation:

A 40 foot x 40 foot riser spacing totals 27 sprinklers in one acre. Typical sprinkler orifice size for blueberries is 1/8 inch, which delivers approximately 3 gpm per sprinkler or 80 gpm per acre.

Drip Irrigation:

A typical drip system uses two lines, one on either side of the plant row, with .4 to .5 gph emitters spaced 18 inches apart. This system will require 44 gpm per acre on 10 foot row centers.

 

What We’ve Learned

The most productive and profitable blueberry fields with the best quality fruit have a lot in common.  Most always these fields started with the highest quality nursery plant material, a great management and cultural program, an excellent site, a well-planned marketing strategy and the right variety for the location, system and use. Keep in mind that your local extension agents and agricultural supply companies are wonderful resources for your planting and growing needs.