After 2 weeks of delay due to our unseasonably cool and wet weather, we transplanted our entomology blueberry research plot at the Horticultural Crops Research Station in Castle Hayne, NC this morning.
The station crew was great, and between the 9 of us, we planted 400 plants in less than 1 hour. We planted 0.14 acres in total, 0.063 acres Premiere (a rabbit eye variety), 0.07 acres Legacy (a southern highbush variety--and one of my favorite eating varieties), and 0.007 acres Columbus to round out the rabbit eyes.
Finch Blueberry Nursery in Bailey, NC. The Legacy were 3 year old plants, while the Premiere were 2 years. There's a noticeable size difference between the varieites now, but when fully grown, rabbit eye bushes can be much larger than SHB.
This will be an establishment year, so no fruit yet and no research projects planned unless some establishment year pests show up (whitefringed beetles might be one). Once the plants are larger, we plan to conduct blueberry maggot projects and to study emerging pests of blueberries in the southeast, including whiteflies.
Large numbers of whitefly larvae & pupae on the underside of a blueberry leaf (Photo: Bill Cline). These densities have become common in recent years in southeastern NC, include at the Castle Hayne station. We do not yet know what impact (if any) these insects have on plant health and productivity. The highest densities appear in late summer before leaf fall.
Adult whiteflies on the underside of young blueberry leaves, August 2008. Photo: HJB