Performance of Blueberry Cultivars under High Tunnels
Studies were conducted over two blueberry (Vacciniumspp.) seasons in a grower’s field in Alachua County, Florida. Adult ‘Springhigh’ and ‘Snow Chaser’ plants were covered with 18-ft-high tunnels and their production was compared to open-field plants of the same cultivars. At the same time, temperatures inside and outside the high tunnels and water use for freeze protection were monitored. The data indicated that blueberry earliness was affected by the high tunnels. Both cultivars produced in average about 1.4 ton/acre inside the high tunnels from 15 Feb. to 15 Apr. each season in comparison with no production in the open fields during the same time period. There were 39 days with temperatures at or below 36 °F outside the tunnels (minimum temperature was 17 °F), while inside the structures there were only 19 days with temperatures below this threshold. Water volumes for freeze protection inside the high tunnels were approximately 25% of those used in the open fields. These results indicated that blueberry production under high tunnels in northern Florida can improve fruit earliness and reduce water consumption for freeze protection.