No bud set (or very few) on blueberries

by Richard
(Troy,Pa.)

I had a great year last year. Have approximately 120 bushes of a variety of berries. Jersey, Elizabeth, Duke, Collins.


I fertilized early this year, when we still had snow on ground but warm temperatures in early spring. Have had good growth but the bushes did not set blossoms.

Berry patch is approximately 15 yrs old. Did some pruning of old canes but not too drastic. Can not understand why they did not set this year as we had plenty of rain.

Some plants are 3ft to 6ft tall. What is my trouble?

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Hi Richard,

Sorry to hear about your poor blueberry crop.

I can only make some guesses as to what might have happened. But I can tell you with near certainty that it had nothing to do with fertilizing this spring.

Blueberries actually set their crop on the previous year's growth. The new wood that is growing this season will have the flower buds that become next year's blueberry crop.

So unless you fertilized enough to severely burn the plants (and I'm sure you would have noticed if that had happened), the fertilization this spring should have had nothing to do with this season's crop.

The pruning you did might have been a factor. If you cut off any of last year's growth, you were cutting off part of this year's crop. If you cut off all of last year's new growth, then you would have been cutting off all of this year's crop (but I doubt that you did that).

If you had some very severe cold weather as the flower buds were starting to swell prior to blooming, it's possible that some of the buds were killed by the cold.

In my experience, blueberries are far more cold tolerant than most other fruiting crops, but that doesn't mean that they are impervious to cold damage.

And one other possibility would be something that inhibited the growth of new wood last year. Something like a severe drought or some other condition that prevented the blueberry bushes from growing the amount of new wood that they would normally grow. The less new wood they grow, the less the potential for next year's crop.

Those are my best guesses, anyway.

I wish you better luck with next season's blueberry crop!

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