Blueberries dying a slow death......


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Hello all,

I bought a new house in November 2017 in Western, PA and always wanted blueberries and decided to do them at this new house. I got 3 different varieties at a nursery (Chandler, Bluejay, and can't remember the third).

I planted them a little late around May 18th and they have a decent amount of berries on them, which is why I bought them at a nursery than at Lowe's or Home Depot. My soil is mostly clay, so I dug the holes about 1 to 2 foot deep and about 3 or so foot around. I mixed in peat moss, manure, and acidifier granules with fresh potting soil. I then put about 3 inches or so of pine needles over the whole area as mulch.

They all looked fine then the smaller of the bunch in the front started drooping then turning yellow with green veins. They all looked fine yesterday and now they all of have yellow leaves and green veins. The smaller one is starting to get brown spots and not sure what the issue is.

I keep checking the PH of the soil and it won't budge past 7. From what I read, I should have prepared for this a year in advance, but I thought our soil around here was mostly acidic. I bought Miracle Grow Miracid and have dumped it on with 2 gallons of water and 1 1/2 tablespoons of it and hasn't helped either.

So wondering what someone with more experience might recommend?

Should I prune them and get rid of the berries so they focus on rooting this year and hope they will be fine until the PH gets lower? Any way I can get the PH adjusted more quickly? I put a bunch of peat moss in as that is what the nursery said to use and I would be fine, but not so much.

Thanks in advance,

Dan


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I found this on the web:

"Iron deficiency (chlorosis) is a very common deficiency in blueberries. It is first exhibited by younger leaves and spreads to the entire shoot. Yellowing occurs between veins, while veins remain green. Leaves may turn completely yellow or, in severe cases, reddish-brown. Blueberry plants are not able to remove iron from a high pH soil. Iron is much more available at a lower soil pH. To correct iron deficiency, apply iron chelate to the soil or to the leaves. The more permanent and less expensive solution is to lower the soil pH with sulfur to the recommended soil pH of 4.2 to 5.2. Manganese toxicity can occur when soil pH is too low or too much acidifying material has been used. Symptoms are similar to those of iron deficiency. A foliar analysis may be needed to determine the problem."

Not sure how you are testing PH. Do you test the water you are using by itself first? I find my tap water is best, as it is treated to be nuetral, whereas the distilled water my tests have called for shows up as a 6 PH. In other words you could be actually around 8PH. My clay soil is that way. We have tons of lime in our soil and water and they even have lime plants in this county. I use agricultural pelletized sulfur, rhododendron and azalia fertilizer, and broad micronutrients at least once per year, usually in the fall. The blueberries are usually loaded if I remember to feed the roots.
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I would foliar and liquid feed broad micronutrients, and ph adjust all waterings and feedings to 4.5-5.5, depending on your budget. I ph adjust water from a 8.2 down to about 5.5 for potatoes and it’s usually around 2/3 cup of white vinegar in a 5 gallon bucket.
 
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I found this on the web:

"Iron deficiency (chlorosis) is a very common deficiency in blueberries. It is first exhibited by younger leaves and spreads to the entire shoot. Yellowing occurs between veins, while veins remain green. Leaves may turn completely yellow or, in severe cases, reddish-brown. Blueberry plants are not able to remove iron from a high pH soil. Iron is much more available at a lower soil pH. To correct iron deficiency, apply iron chelate to the soil or to the leaves. The more permanent and less expensive solution is to lower the soil pH with sulfur to the recommended soil pH of 4.2 to 5.2. Manganese toxicity can occur when soil pH is too low or too much acidifying material has been used. Symptoms are similar to those of iron deficiency. A foliar analysis may be needed to determine the problem."

Not sure how you are testing PH. Do you test the water you are using by itself first? I find my tap water is best, as it is treated to be nuetral, whereas the distilled water my tests have called for shows up as a 6 PH. In other words you could be actually around 8PH. My clay soil is that way. We have tons of lime in our soil and water and they even have lime plants in this county. I use agricultural pelletized sulfur, rhododendron and azalia fertilizer, and broad micronutrients at least once per year, usually in the fall. The blueberries are usually loaded if I remember to feed the roots.View attachment 37909
Thanks for reply. I found the same thing. As usual, can't find anything local and have to order off the internet for the iron chelate. Here is the tester I got, but it is just for soil. But I was putting that Miracid in the water
Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 11.30.07 PM.png
the last two times and it should have lowered it.
 
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I would foliar and liquid feed broad micronutrients, and ph adjust all waterings and feedings to 4.5-5.5, depending on your budget. I ph adjust water from a 8.2 down to about 5.5 for potatoes and it’s usually around 2/3 cup of white vinegar in a 5 gallon bucket.
Not exactly sure what foliar means? Fertilize? Any brands you recommend for the liquid feed?
 
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Not exactly sure what foliar means? Fertilize? Any brands you recommend for the liquid feed?
Foliar means foilage or leaves. @TomatoTango meant do both, spray the leaves and water the root. The plants have tiny nostrils that open and close in reaction to the processes and heat of night and day and the evaporation at the top allows nutrients tosuck in through the root. But leaves work to a degree as well.

That tester is suspicious. I have tried 4 or 5 but they never worked for me. Get the type that is a capsule that makes the water turn colors. Or test strips as they are very economical. Do you have a farmer's supply anywhere close?

It takes about 40 pounds of sulfur to change the PH on 1000 feet of clay soil here. You may not have gotten there yet because soil is so heavy. TomatoTango is suggesting vinegar as it is acidic acid at a 5% or so concentration, and that is diluted further for a rapid change in PH without harm. Vinegar is also used to kill weeds so be cautious and do not mix it strong.
 
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Foliar means foilage or leaves. @TomatoTango meant do both, spray the leaves and water the root. The plants have tiny nostrils that open and close in reaction to the processes and heat of night and day and the evaporation at the top allows nutrients tosuck in through the root. But leaves work to a degree as well.

That tester is suspicious. I have tried 4 or 5 but they never worked for me. Get the type that is a capsule that makes the water turn colors. Or test strips as they are very economical. Do you have a farmer's supply anywhere close?

It takes about 40 pounds of sulfur to change the PH on 1000 feet of clay soil here. You may not have gotten there yet because soil is so heavy. TomatoTango is suggesting vinegar as it is acidic acid at a 5% or so concentration, and that is diluted further for a rapid change in PH without harm. Vinegar is also used to kill weeds so be cautious and do not mix it strong.
No farmers supply, but we have tractor supply and rural king. Yea, I was suspicious of that tester and asked someone at Lowes and she said it works as long as you follow the directions. But I'm still suspect on it.

Thanks for the warning on the vinegar!
 
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Foliar feed, buy a $10-20 hand sprayer online, Walmart, or at a garden center. Foliar spraying is rapid uptake versus hours or days when you liquid feed. Since you’re likely deficient you should do both foliar and root drench. Foliar feeding bypasses soil ph problems.

Foliar feeding you want a broad micronutrient solution, preferably with humic/fulvic acid for chelation and kelp or seaweed too. Use soap, yucca, or another surfactant. There are dozens of quality products. I’ve used Foxfarm Grow Big, Earth Juice various products, and Bloomcity cal/mag and seen good results. With foliar it’s like 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp solution to a gallon of water of a lot of common products so it’s cheap. Ph adjust that too, to at least 6.5 or lower.

I’ve used those prong tools before, they do NOT accurately measure your soil ph. They’re good for moisture however. Assume your soil is something they don’t like, probably neutral or alkaline. This is why water adjusting ph and root drenching them some food will ensure they can actually absorb whatever it is they’re missing. Many minerals like calcium for example need a ph of at least 6.5 or lower or the plant starves.
 
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Its a long time since I've grown blueberries, for the simple reason they dont grow well in the soil I have here.

From memory though, a pH of 7 is way to high for them, even if the gauge is inaccurate. The soil needs to be under 5.5 for them to do well. No doubt, this is the cause of the problem. To get the pH down, it is possible to use some of the methods mentioned in other posts. Be aware though that they are only temporary solutions.

Once the blueberries get properly established, and I mean PROPERLY they will keep the pH down, in fat they may even lower it. In some areas, they even lime the soil to raise the value when it starts getting under 4.5.
 
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So spraying the plants with Iron Chelate got them green again for the most part.

But now I am getting some browning on the leaves. Looking on the internet, it looks to me that is it lack of water. I'm still trying to get the PH levels down. Been using Miracid and Soil Acidifier granules and 2 gallon of water with 1.5 cups of vinegar a couple of times (think that was the ratio I was using). Wonder what people on here thought the browning was from?

Another question, some say to have mulch, pine needles, etc up to the plant and I have read where others say you should give about 6 inches or so around the base so the roots can breathe. What is the correct way, or doesn't it really matter?

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My wife puts pine needles. I have read that if the components that make them smell piney go away such that they do not smell then the ph rises as they become a compost. But they look ok and help matte out weeds mainly. Ever seen a pine forest?
 
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*******UPDATE********

I'm still having issues. I checked the PH today and was surprised to learn that all three are around 4-5 in PH levels. A few months ago they wouldn't budge from 7. But they are still having issues.

I keep treating them for fungus as that seems to be an issue now. One was pretty much dead so I pruned everything off of it, not sure if that was mistake or not? I thought it may help it focus on its stems instead of all the leaves and berries and stuff. The one is green and doing somewhat ok, but still see signs of fungus. My favorite bush, the Brigitta is having major issues and trying to keep it alive. It is going the way of the one that I pruned down to nothing. It has some dead leaves and drooping. It was looking better a week or so ago and then we got a bunch of rain and now it looks poor again and showing signs of fungus.

I'm wondering if they are getting too much water? I dug the hole about a foot deep and then put peat moss down and planted them in that. Is that maybe the problem, too much moisture? The ground is all clay underneath and tough solid ground. I watered them 24 hrs ago in the mourning and went out this mourning and stuck the probe in them and the needle went off the charts for moisture. Not sure if that is a good thing or bad.

I just also added more pine needles as well as my neighbor cut his pines down and had a few piles raked up for me. The first batch I put down compressed a little so I added more.

Attached are some pics....any input appreciated!

IMG_2132.jpegIMG_2131.jpegIMG_2130.jpegIMG_2129.jpegIMG_2128.jpeg
 
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Pure Peat is a common problem. They will be better off in pure clay I would think. Also the ph numbers you are giving are what the authors say peat will be. I think you are over cooking your goose a little trying to ensure bountiful goodness for the plant. I want to say peat is usually mixed in at about 1\3 of the soil mix at the most in a general soil formula. Others know more than I would. Our blueberries are in red clay, any planting material we mixed in such as black kow or compost disappeared decades ago although some small carbon might remain.You might just try a nutrition program (not acidic like azealea food as you are there) in a liquid and foliar feed way. These plants do not want much so cut it down by half or more.
 
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I did mix in soil and manure with the peat moss when I planted them. I used this stuff a little while ago and not sure if it helped any. Actually after using this stuff I think is when they started going down hill.

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I left them alone for two weeks because I thought I was messing with them to much and found the one half dead and is the one I pruned down to nothing. Now the other one is doing the same and want to save that one if I can as its my favorite one.
 
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Looks like I lost my second blueberry bush. All is dead. Tried feeding it miracle grow and iron chelate at the roots and spraying the leaves that were still living and just kept dying. Not sure why. Third bush is so far looking ok. I got it back to life a couple of weeks ago by spraying it with iron chelate, but we got a bunch of rain and hurt it for some reason. Wondering if the ground is staying to wet or something and getting root rot. The PH was high for a while as well, but it was down between 4-5 when I checked this past weekend so don't think that was it.
 
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Hello all,

I bought a new house in November 2017 in Western, PA and always wanted blueberries and decided to do them at this new house. I got 3 different varieties at a nursery (Chandler, Bluejay, and can't remember the third).

I planted them a little late around May 18th and they have a decent amount of berries on them, which is why I bought them at a nursery than at Lowe's or Home Depot. My soil is mostly clay, so I dug the holes about 1 to 2 foot deep and about 3 or so foot around. I mixed in peat moss, manure, and acidifier granules with fresh potting soil. I then put about 3 inches or so of pine needles over the whole area as mulch.

They all looked fine then the smaller of the bunch in the front started drooping then turning yellow with green veins. They all looked fine yesterday and now they all of have yellow leaves and green veins. The smaller one is starting to get brown spots and not sure what the issue is.

I keep checking the PH of the soil and it won't budge past 7. From what I read, I should have prepared for this a year in advance, but I thought our soil around here was mostly acidic. I bought Miracle Grow Miracid and have dumped it on with 2 gallons of water and 1 1/2 tablespoons of it and hasn't helped either.

So wondering what someone with more experience might recommend?

Should I prune them and get rid of the berries so they focus on rooting this year and hope they will be fine until the PH gets lower? Any way I can get the PH adjusted more quickly? I put a bunch of peat moss in as that is what the nursery said to use and I would be fine, but not so much.

Thanks in advance,

Dan


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Out of curiosity, are these newly transplanted? Almost every time I've ever transplanted Blueberries, they have gone into extreme shock relative to many of the transplants I've done with other fruit trees.

This may not be the reason for your cause specifically, but, just throwing it out there.
 
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Out of curiosity, are these newly transplanted? Almost every time I've ever transplanted Blueberries, they have gone into extreme shock relative to many of the transplants I've done with other fruit trees.

This may not be the reason for your cause specifically, but, just throwing it out there.
Yea, I bought them from a nursery and planted them. If they are in extreme shock, would they come back this coming year or are they dead? Being in shock sounds like they would come back? The PH is proper now as well. I was kinda thinking they were in shock because I dropped the PH to quickly. But again, would they come back the following year if that is true?
 

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