As with other small fruit crops, a blueberry planting should be planned at least one year in advance. The soil should be tested and sulfur and phosphorus applied (if needed) during the fall prior to planting.

Because most blueberry varieties are not well adapted to heavy upland soils, most soils will require considerable amendment with organic matter if plants are to thrive. Compost application and/or the use of cover crops in the year prior to planting will increase soil organic matter. Sawdust or peat moss also should be worked into the planting hole, replacing about one-half of the original soil with the organic material. After watering in and applying the fertilizer, mulch the plants heavily along the length of the row with about 4 inches of rotted sawdust or other organic matter. Avoid using green sawdust since it may burn the tender green stems and will compete with the plant for nitrogen.

Immediately after planting, prune back 50 to 60 percent of the wood. Remove the flowers from two-year-old plants completely so the plant will become well established. Sacrificing this small amount of fruit is well worth the dividend of establishing a planting that will fruit for 50 years or more if well maintained! Some of the crop also should be removed the following year to encourage sound establishment.

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