Growing Blueberries in Western NC

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Because of the climate and soil conditions in Western North Carolina, highbush varieties should be used as often as possible, as rabbiteye varieties tend to not do as well in the cold temperatures and high winds.

Depending on where you live in the county, a specific type may be recommended. Growers in the Jonas Ridge area should seek out highbush varieties, while folks in lower elevation areas, such as Morganton or Valdese, can find success with rabbiteye varieties. Call our office if you need help choosing.

Blueberries require well-drained sandy or loamy soils. A soil pH 4.0 to 5.0 with high organic matter is recommended. Adding sawdust can help increase organic matter if needed. Once you choose a site, it is time to prepare it. Test the soil and bring it to a medium level of phosphorus before planting. Before planting, prune to remove at least half the height of the canes and remove all weak growth. Plant in late winter or early spring with 5 feet between plants, and 9 to 10 feet between rows.

Add a 4 to 6 inch deep layer of sawdust mulch over each row immediately after planting. Fruiting should not be allowed in the first two years as this adds stress to young plants. Six to eight weeks after planting, distribute 16 pounds of nitrogen per acre. Double the application rate in the second year.

To learn more about blueberry pruning, joinN.C. Cooperative Extension, Burke County Center for a blueberry pruning workshop at Perry’s Berry’s Farm on February 6th. Contact us for more information.

If you would like to order blueberries from the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Burke County Center Small Fruit Sale, visit our Small Fruit page for more information or an order form.