The Q&A Archives: No fruit on blueberry bushes

Question: My 23 year old blueberry bushes didn't produce any berries last year. They've never been pruned and my neighbor suggests I remove all the sucker growth from the bottom of the plant. What do you recommend? Mario Guglielmi Brooklyn, NY

Answer: Canes that are more than 20 years old produce very little fruit. It would be best to renew the bushes by cutting all canes to the ground in early spring (March or April), says Gary Pavlis, blueberry specialist at the Atlantic County Agricultural Extension office in Mays Landing, New Jersey. During the summer, let all the new shoots grow. Then next March, choose 15 to 18 of the tallest, healthiest new shoots per bush and prune the rest to the ground, he says. You should also check the pH of your soil it should be between 4.5 and 4.8 for blueberries. If the pH is above 5.0, young leaves yellow because of iron deficiency, and production is low. If you need to lower the pH, add soil sulfur immediately, at rates recommended in a soil test, recommends Pavlis. It typically takes two to three pounds of soil sulfur per 100 square feet of loamy soil to lower the pH from 5.5 to 4.5.

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