Calling blueberry experts on increasing yields

I purchased two “Mature” northern high bush varieties they are either Draper or Liberty or one each. These were mature bushes from a blueberry farm in Willamete Valley. During February this year I planted one is a raised bed and other in a half wine barrel container. In both cases I used 50% Douglas fir bark mulch 50% peat moss (some pumice in wine barrel) amended with Down to Earth Acid Mix Organic fertilizer 4-3-6 and finally mulched with douglasfir sawdust.

Given these bush were 8-10 year old I had doubts that these plants would live. But they managed to leaf out and grow. I am happy that these plants are doing well, but not really happy with the yields, although I understand they went through a traumatic phase of their life uprooted, roots chopped off and made to grow in a completely different environment.

I would like to know what is that can I do to improve the harvest next year.


This is how the plant looked when I brought them home.

Right after planting them in the raised bed and half wine barrel.

Leafing Out.


Crown size of a bush


Pruning will be the key. Take out as much of the old wood as possible. That will spark new growth which will be more productive. I just don’t know how low you can cut those and expect regrowth from below the cut. So I’d do one half or one third each winter until it’s all new.

No experience with trees that old. I’d say cut some this winter and see how they respond.

If there are new or young looking shoots down low, they’ll grow back from those or that area. It looks like there is some of that on one plant. But that last picture is scary. That area might not yield new shoots.


Pruning can probably help with that.There should be a mixture of old and new canes.After awhile,the growth on the more mature ones,starts to get twiggy,with less fruit.Also,take out any,that are crossing or touching.
This is normally done in early Spring,while still dormant.
Looks like fruitnut responded first.


Not a blueberry expert by any means…but i think Zendog had a boost in his by adding Sulfur…which i think was recommended by Drew which is an expert. Im pretty sure it was this stuff if my memory serves.


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Feed them rose food towards the end of winter, but of course not the products containing systemic insecticide.

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If it was mine are start off making the cuts shown and any dead branches. Then more next year.


There is one young shoot which developed this year. It is partially seen at 5’O clock in the last picture. I read these plants are supposed to live for 50-60 years, so I hope its not a total failure yet.

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It’s a pretty tight spot, how low should I cut it to the crown without hurting the crown. I might try using a Dremel. I am thinking about cutting those old canes sometime in September after harvest, would that be bad for the plant?

I would just prune now or if not wait till March or April. Late winter pruning is usually what is recommended but I’ve pruned in the summer with no problem. I wouldn’t prune in September. Maybe not enough time for healing.

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I have applied AS a few times this growing season. Between AS peat, fir bark & dust it should have enough acidity I haven’t tested but I don’t see any signs of high pH like chlorosis. I might amend some for next season since Sulphur takes time to breakdown.

I see DTE has one. Rose & Flower Mix 4-8-4 – Down To Earth Fertilizer

do you have any recommendation for salt based water soluble product.

Grow More Magnum Rose Food.

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OK I see it now. One cane is all it takes to make a new plant. But I’m not sure that’s a viable approach.

I’d suggest pruning some early next spring and see how it responds.


So, if I can’t get close enough to the crown without damaging other canes, I can cut slightly higher, will that work?

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I cut down a couple of old canes from this bush last week, and today I see the plant is sending out a new cane sprout. We have exactly one more month of summer left in PNW, I am afraid this seedling cane will meet a pre-mature death in winter. Are there any options to protect it until next spring?

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I cut old canes as low as I can and do it at any time after harvesting the berries from each bush. Late growing new canes often die back part way during the winter, but they normally continue growing the following spring. I also prune out some of the flowering branches in the spring when the bush looks like it will be overloaded with fruit, resulting in small berries.


I agree… you need to prune out some of that old wood… encourage new more productive growth.

I have mostly early and mid season varieties… and a few years ago (to encourage more growth)… i started fertilizing mine two times a year… and that has worked well for me.

I fertilize them good early spring normally when i see bud swell.

Then again as soon as last fruit is harvested.

My early, midseason rabbiteyes here in TN finish fruiting early to late July… and our growing season continues into November some.

When i fertilize them good after fruiting… i see new shoots coming up from the roots… in august and september and lots of new growth on existing branches.

This might not work so well in a northern zone, short season or with later fruiting varieties… but is working great with what I have.

Good luck.


@vitog so these new tender canes do they just get winter damaged and grow back from the base or continue growing from they left off from the last growing season. I found that the plant is sending 2 more canes since I posted my picture.


The new canes in July are likely to be just fine, and if they do “freeze back” it probably will be the portion of the New Growth that came on in Sepetember, October. (In other words, 4 feet of growth may die half way back to ground in upcoming winter if major cold outbreak arrives late fall or early winter.)