Browning and necrosis on new blueberry plants

Asked August 6, 2020, 5:50 PM EDT

Good Afternoon, Hoping someone at Extension might be able to help us with some very sick new blueberry plants! We planted these "Duke" variety bushes from Territorial Seed Co. this spring, according to supplied instructions. All three grew to varying degrees from the root material, but then started to die off about 2-3 months ago. One of the plants is doing significantly better than the other two and one of them has no foilage left on it at all (image not shown). We prepped the soil with quite a bit of peat moss and some "low pH" soil mix. We have been watering very diligently and the soil has remained moist (not wet), even here in the High Desert. The plants get direct sun for ~ 70% of the day. I did just measure the soil pH using a probe and the value was 6.7 -- clearly not low enough, though I am not certainly this can explain the level of browning and necrosis we are seeing. Attached are some photographs. Any ideas, suggestions or thoughts, other than amending the soil with sulfur to lower the pH? Many thanks, Meredith Helfrich and Jamie Collins Bend

Deschutes County Oregon

3 Responses

Thank you for your question. Your plants will not thrive, assuming they live, without a substantial lowering of the soil pH. This species cannot absorb necessary nutrients unless the pH is 4.2 to 5.5. There will be browning and tissue death if the plant is starving. This Extension article has information about growing berries in Central Oregon: https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/downloads/wh246s38d And here is a more extensive publication about growing blueberries: https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/ec1304/html I would also recommend that you get a professional soil test for pH and nutrients before fall, so you can follow the lab's recommendations for soil amendments, in order that they 'work' for next year. This publication has a list of labs that can perform this testing: https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/em8677 Good luck!

Kristena,
Thank you for the guidance!
Respectfully,
Jamie and Meredith