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Free Blueberry Winter Pruning & Production Workshop Coming Feb. 23

The Watauga County Center of North Carolina Cooperative Extension will host a Blueberry Winter Pruning & Production Field Day in Banner Elk (Watauga Co.), NC on Friday, February 23, 2018, from 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM.Northern Highbush Blueberries are a healthful and potentially profitable specialty crop that thrives in the NC High Country climate. They prosper in acidic soils common to this region, and can be managed with fairly minimal winter pruning and spring mulching as the primary maintenance tasks. This workshop will inform current and potential blueberry growers when and how to perform these tasks and keep blueberry bushes productive throughout their many-decade life spans.

The Field Day will be held at the Ward family portion of the Banner Elk’s old blueberry farm (1867 Lee Gualtney Rd., 28604), where State Blueberry Extension Specialist Bill Cline, and Area Extension Agent Richard Boylan will guide participants through the decision process for selecting blueberry canes to be removed to maximize plant health and production for the coming years. Environmental factors, including soil drainage, fertility, weed management, and insect challenges will also be discussed as bushes are pruned. Participants are welcome to bring pruning tools of their own, and some tools will be available for use on site as well. In addition to hands-on pruning work on the farm, there will be time for a Q&A on blueberry management and production challenges with Dr. Cline during the afternoon.

Bill Cline works as a researcher and extension specialist in the Department of Plant Pathology at North Carolina State University. His areas of expertise include diseases of small fruits, and all aspects of blueberry production. North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s programs in Watauga county works to identify and promote viable crops and agricultural marketing strategies suitable for the region and work with farmers to improve profitability.

This pruning workshop is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is not required, but more information and any updates due to possible extreme weather are available from the Cooperative Extension office at 828-264-3061.