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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ARCTIC AND SUBARCTIC PLANT GENETIC RESOURCES CONSERVATION, RESEARCH, AND INFORMATION MANAGEMENT Title: Northern highbush and half-high blueberries on the Alaskan Kenai peninsula:preliminary observations

Authors
item BARNEY, DANNY
item HUMMER, KIM

Submitted to: Journal of American Pomological Society
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 29, 2012
Publication Date: July 10, 2012
Citation: Barney, D.L., Hummer, K.E. 2012. Northern highbush and half-high blueberries on the Alaskan Kenai peninsula:preliminary observations. Journal of American Pomological Society. 66(3):145-152.

Interpretive Summary: Home and commercial cultivation of small fruits is popular in Alaska and blueberries of several species have potential as cultivated crops for local production. In June 2009, we established blueberry plantings in two locations on the Kenai Peninsula, southwest of Anchorage, Alaska. Our objectives were to compare effects of location and cultivar for three northern highbush and six half-high blueberry cultivars on plant survival, fall tip dieback, winter injury, yield and fruit weight. Severe winter injury and some mortality were observed by June 2011. At both locations, highbush cultivars ‘Duke,’ ‘Earliblue,’ and ‘Patriot,’ and the half-high cultivars ‘Chippewa’ and ‘Northland’ had severe fall tip dieback and winter injury. These 5 cultivars are not recommended for Southcentral Alaska, although ‘Patriot’ produced a few large ripe fruit in 2011. The remaining half-high cultivars survived well and produced yields in 2011. ‘Northblue’ and ‘Northsky’ ripened first, followed by ‘Northcountry’ and ‘Polaris.’ Fruit was harvested three times in September 2011. ‘Northblue’ yield was the largest and this cultivar produced large fruit. Yields for ‘Northcountry,’ ‘Northsky,’ ‘Polaris,’ and ‘Patriot’ were satisfactory. Berry weights were medium for berries of ‘Northcountry,’ ‘Northsky,’ and Polaris’. With appropriate cultivar selection and plant management, half-high blueberry production on the Kenai Peninsula appears feasible for home and small-acreages. Snow-catch strategies for winter protection and tunnels for season extension are recommended.

Technical Abstract: Home and commercial cultivation of small fruits is popular in Alaska and blueberries of several species, such as V. corymbosum and V. angustifolium, have potential as cultivated crops for local production. In June 2009, we established blueberry plantings in two locations on the Kenai Peninsula, approximately 106 kilometers southwest of Anchorage, Alaska. Our objectives were to compare effects of location and cultivar for three northern highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) and six half-high (V. corymbosum × V. angustifolium) blueberry cultivars on plant survival, fall tip dieback, winter injury, yield and fruit weight. Severe winter injury and some mortality were observed by June 2011. At both locations, highbush cultivars ‘Duke,’ ‘Earliblue,’ and ‘Patriot,’ and the half-high cultivars ‘Chippewa’ and ‘Northland’ had severe fall tip dieback and winter injury. These 5 cultivars are not recommended for Southcentral Alaska, although ‘Patriot’ produced a few large ripe fruit in 2011. The remaining half-high cultivars survived well and produced yields in 2011. ‘Northblue’ and ‘Northsky’ ripened first, followed by ‘Northcountry’ and ‘Polaris.’ Fruit was harvested three times in September 2011. ‘Northblue’ yield was 0.25 kg/plant (2-year post-establishment) and mean berry size was 1.98 g/berry. Yields for ‘Northcountry,’ ‘Northsky,’ ‘Polaris,’ and ‘Patriot’ were 0.09, 0.18, 0.05, and 0.02 kg/plant, respectively. Berry weights were 0.66, 0.88, and 1.50 g/berry for ‘Northcountry,’ ‘Northsky,’ and Polaris,’ respectively. Berry weights were not determined for ‘Patriot.’ With appropriate cultivar selection and plant management, half-high blueberry production on the Kenai Peninsula appears feasible for home and small-acreages. Snow-catch strategies for winter protection and tunnels for season extension are recommended.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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