Grafted Blueberry Trial
A blueberry tree research plot is being established at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center starting late 2011. There are two root types (own roots vs. grafted) and three varieties growing in two soil treatments (sawdust amended soil vs. no amendment). The blueberry varieties are 'Draper', 'Liberty', and 'Aurora', which are grafted onto wild V. arboreum rootstock. These blueberry trees were grafted in spring of 2011 and grow in the greenhouse over the summer. Once the plot is completed in spring 2012, there will be 60 'Draper' blueberry trees, 60 'Liberty' blueberry trees, and 60 'Aurora' blueberry trees growing side by side with their own-rooted counterparts.
This will be the first study of using highbush blueberry trees for commercial blueberry production. Of course the key to this research is having quality blueberry trees, which isn't easy to produce. One difficulty has been to grow enough wild V. arboreum from seeds or cuttings and wait the plants growing big enough for grafting, but germinating V. arboreum seeds wasn't a cakewalk, neither was cuttings. With dedicated technical support from Mr. Peter Sturman and various seed germination and cutting experiments, we now have enough V. arboreum to produce many blueberry trees. Some initial growth observation of grafted plants indicated the scion variety seem to maintain its own growth habit. For example, 'Liberty' blueberry tree tends to grow upright, while 'Aurora' blueberry tree seems to exhibit a weepy type of growth, which may need trellis support. From about 90 blueberry trees planted in the field, we will compare how they stand up against the rainy northwest winter to their own-rooted varieties. If lucky, we may have some fruits from these blueberry trees for the first time. Looking at the bud set now, we may just have beginners luck next season.