Bacon County Ag Update

Now is the time for Southern Highbush Blueberry Leaf Sampling

As we finish up our Southern Highbush Crop and look forward to Rabbiteye season, this is the perfect time to Leaf Sample Southern Highbush.

Leaf sampling is a very useful tool to manage blueberry fertilization. By sampling now you can adjust fertilization needs for next years crop.

Below is Erick Smith’s Factsheet for blueberry leaf sampling.

Timing: within two weeks from harvest

Location: randomly select leaves that are fully expanded from current season’s growth (Fig. 1). Select healthy leaves from as many different plants as possible.

Frequency: 100 leaves per sample that represent no more than a 10 acre field.

Avoid: sampling leaves next to fruit clusters, leaves from very vigorous first-year canes growing from the base of the bush, weak and unhealthy plants.

If sampling for diagnosis of a suspected nutrient problem, sample the problem plant and a healthy plant for comparison.

Sample Preparation: after collecting leaves, air-dry them for 24 hrs before sending them to a lab. Also, place the leaves in a paper sack only or contact your county cooperative extension agent for tissue sampling bags. Label the sack to the corresponding field and variety. Note, placing the leaves in a plastic bag begins a deterioration process that negatively affects the nutrient analyses.

If your management practices include foliar nutrient, fungicide, and/or insecticide applications, the leaves should be washed and dried. In addition, if the leaves have dust and/or soil on them they should be washed and dried. At a minimum, the leaves should be washed with water and blotted dry, then left to air-dry for 24 hrs before being shipped to a lab in a paper bag. If you collect the leaves following a rain or overhead irrigation, this may be enough to remove any contaminating residue. However, you are paying for the analyses; a little sample preparation can alleviate doubt.