Foliar Nutrition Strategies for Blueberry and Cane Berry Growers to Implement NOW to Maximize Fruit Size, Quality and Shelf-Life

Blueberry and cane berry growers in the Midwest and eastern states are now past the fruit set stage and into the fruit “cell-division” stage. This stage occurs for about 3-4 weeks post fruit set. It is the period of time where individual cells in the fruit divide rapidly. This 3-4 week window is one of the most important opportunities for growers to positively impact fruit size and yield but also quality factors such as firmness, harvest durability, transportation tolerance and overall shelf-life.

Agro-K has a variety of nutritional products and comprehensive nutrition strategies to assist blueberry and cane berry growers at this critical physiological stage in maximizing fruit cell division and calcium incorporation while minimizing plant stress. Achieving these goals sets the stage for a quality harvest with maximum pack-out!

Calcium is a key nutrient for quality fruit and supporting peak demand timing for calcium is critical to berry quality and top pack-out. Getting it into the crop during the fruit “cell-division” window is the key to improving crop quality, marketable pack-out and grower profitability. Maximizing calcium levels in the fruit will improve cell wall thickness leading to improved skin thickness, appearance, transportability and shelf-life.

Calcium is taken up from the soil in by mass flow and moves to the growing points of the plant – generally the leaves and shoot tips. Getting calcium into the fruit and maintaining fruit levels is more challenging but is the key to improving quality. This is why supplementing soil calcium uptake with foliar calcium sprays – in the right form – should be an essential part of every blueberry and cane berry growers nutrient program.

Agro-K’s foliar calcium phosphite, Sysstem-SeaCal, combines a systemic calcium source in a phosphite form with Agro-K’s proprietary seaweed extract formulation. Applying Sysstem-SeaCal throughout fruit cell-division not only encourages fruit size but also provides readily available calcium that penetrates rapidly and thoroughly through leaf and fruit tissue due to its unique phosphite formulation. In addition, Sysstem-SeaCal, unlike most foliar phosphite products on the market, contains no potassium. Foliar potassium applied during fruit cell-division can antagonize calcium uptake into the fruit and negatively impact fruit quality later in the season.

Sysstem-SeaCal is specifically design for quick penetration of fruit and leaf tissue. It also contains a unique seaweed component designed to promote fruit cell division while also helping minimize physiological stress that occurs during this growth stage. Minimizing plant stress contributes to improved plant growth and overall plant health. Combining Agro-K’s unique foliar phosphite calcium and foliar seaweed extract gives growers a convenient and power tool to positively impact fruit quality, marketable pack-out and grower profitability.

Phosphorus is another nutrient that is in peak demand during fruit cell division. Cell division is an energy intensive process and phosphate is the engine that drives it. Because phosphate drives plant metabolic processes it must be readily available when cell division occurs. In addition phosphate is critical to fruit firmness and fruit quality. Agro-K’s AGROBEST 9-24-3 is the most cost effective liquid phosphate source available. It is specifically designed with minimal potassium content for early season foliar applications. Foliar spray mixes with even moderate amounts of potassium applied during cell division will antagonize calcium uptake and negatively impact cell wall integrity and fruit quality later in the season and post-harvest. AGROBEST 9-24-3 has the best analysis ratio for early season macronutrient needs.

Blueberry growers also have other key nutrients that are in peak demand now. Because blueberries flower first and leaf out afterward, there is a high demand for zinc and magnesium at the same time as cell division occurs. Zinc is essential for maximum leaf and root development and proper vascular function. Magnesium is the center element in chlorophyll and therefore critical to supply as leaf development happens. Because initial leaf development happens after fruit set on blueberries, but still early in the season when soils are cool and wet limiting root uptake, it is imperative that growers supplement foliar zinc and magnesium to ensure peak nutrient demand is satisfied. Deficiencies of either or both nutrients early in leaf development stage risks not only reduction in size and quality of the current crop but also bud development for next year’s crop.

Agro-K’s Sysstem-ZN is uniquely phloem and xylem transportable allowing it to support zinc needs for both the developing leaves and the roots. When applied at the start of rapid leaf development through the end of cell division on blueberries Sysstem-ZN supplies zinc in a systemic form that helps maximize leaf surface area and energy potential to drive consistently higher yields and quality. Agro-K’s Magnesium Dextro-Lac is a highly plant available form of magnesium that when applied in combination with Sysstem-ZN work in combination to maximize both chlorophyll development and leaf size which sets the stage for optimal photosynthetic capacity and better quality fruit.

Agro-K provides comprehensive, science based, foliar nutrient management programs that are designed to help berry growers meet “peak nutrient demand timing”. Agro-K’s Science Driven Nutrition approach to nutrient management gives growers the right tools to deliver – the right nutrients, at the right time, in the right form and the right mix. Focusing on providing proper nutrients in the most available form at the right time is the key to enhancing crop quality and grower returns.

For the last 40 years Agro-K has tailored nutrient programs to meet specific growing conditions of Midwest and eastern blueberry and cane berry growers. For more information on Agro-K’s complete nutrient product lines for your berry crop, contact Agro-K or an authorized distributor today.