Blueberry Plant Problems

Asked July 16, 2017, 12:37 PM EDT

Hello, I am hoping for some assistance with my blueberry plants. The plants' leaves are turning brown/red and look burnt, fruit is scarce or wrinkled, and they seem to be dying. This is the fourth year they have been in the ground and we experience similar problems every summer. The plants are on drip irrigation and receive about 4 gallons of water via that method each day. They are in raised beds and mulched with weed fabric and bark chips. We use only organic fertilizers (a balanced 5-5-5) and fertilized once in the spring using that. We are seeing some leaf curling/browning on a nearby apple tree and hazelnut tree as well. Nearby grapes, strawberries, and marionberry plants are all in perfect health and heavy producers though. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Multnomah County Oregon

1 Response


Unfortunately, I can't be certain as to the problem. It would help to see the plants. However, you do have good photos attached.
The symptoms look like salt injury rather than water stress. Considering you indicate you are applying 4 gallons of water per plant per day, that is a lot and I wouldn't expect water stress. If anything, that may be too much water. Are you confident of that rate of application based on irrigation run time, emitter size/volume and number of emitters per plant? When irrigating make sure that once the soil is wetted, you let it dry down to about 30% or so of full capacity before re-wetting -- plants don't do well when constantly in saturated soil. You can do this using a soil probe or using a trowel of some kind to assess soil moisture in the plant root zone (within the bed down to about 12 inches).
You don't mention what type of organic fertilizer was added and how much was added. I would have expected any salts to leach with that level of irrigation, but it is possible that there is too much salt in the root zone. Avoid animal manure type fertilizers as they are very high in salt content. Also avoid applying all the fertilizer at once. Plants do best when fertilizer is applied in smaller increments from March (for organic products) through late June (for slower release) to late July (for liquid faster release products).
Sorry I can't be more specific.