Jan 21, 2020Cold weather could leave Virginia blueberry growers in a jam
January’s warm temperatures have caused the “Low Chill” early-producing blueberry varieties to start the blooming process,” says said Reza Rafie, horticulture specialist at the Virginia Cooperative Extension at Virginia State University. This is not good news for blueberry growers and homeowners with a few plants, he says. We definitely will have more freezing temperatures ahead of us before April when blueberry plants normally are in full bloom in Virginia.
Weather forecasters are calling for freezing temperatures over the next few days. Homeowners with container-grown blueberry plants need to protect them from freezing temperatures, if the flower buds are opening up. Rafie says growers should consider keeping the blueberry plants with blooms indoors when the temperature is below 30˚ F and moving the plants outside when the temperature rises above 35˚ F.
Growers should look for early signs of budding. There are different stages of bloom development, starting with “dormant tight bud” to “full bloom” and each stage of bloom development is sensitive to different levels of freezing temperatures. Click here to view pictures of low temperature tolerant varieties at different stages of bloom.
Depending on how cold it gets, blueberry growers can use overhead irrigation to protect the blooms, provided the temperatures don’t fall below 23˚-24˚ F.