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mycorrhizal fungi for blueberries  RSS feed

 
Posts: 66
Location: Spokane and near Diamond Lake, WA
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So I just planted a bunch of blueberries, and I thought adding regular mycorrhizal fungi would be enough. But a botanist friend writes:

Blueberries are in the heath family, ericaceae. This means that they must have symbiotic fungi to live properly, being so adapted to having mycorrhizae as to not have root hairs. I did a bit of quick research, and it turns out the issue is weirder than I first thought. Plants of the family ericaceae, and specifically blueberries have a type of mycorrhizial association called ericoid mycorrhizae, typically fungi of the genus Hymenoscypus or Rhizoscyphus, and most typically Rhizoscyphus ericae. And without digging deep into weird places I doubt I could get culture of that fungus. If I were you, I would try and get a bit of soil/root mass from a thriving old established blueberry / wild vaccinium / cranberry / heath / rhododendron / heather plant in decending order of preference; and try and get said soil around the roots as a sort of seed to hopefully get the inoculation. No hurry, but the fungus is how they get their food to a large degree, unless they are in a nursery getting weak chemical fertilizers in the water, in which case they don't even need the fungus and it tends to atrophy unless fed.

References:
http://cropsoil.psu.edu/sylvia/mycorrhiza
http://www.angelfire.com/wizard/kimbrough/Textbook/Mycorrhizae_blue.htm



Sure enough, even fungi perfecti does not sell Hymenoscypus or Rhizoscyphus. So I'm going to look for somebody local with a good blueberry patch. Meanwhile, Ted also writes:

Pee would be particularly good for blueberries, due to blueberries only being able to uptake urea/ammonium ions for nitrogen, as opposed to most plants preferring nitrate ion.



According to the book Liquid Gold, urine should be diluted at least 8:1 before being fed to plants.

 
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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thanks for the info, maybe I'll get some bits from the woods nearby where blueberries grow wild..as soon as I can get back there.
 
steward
Posts: 3410
Location: woodland, washington
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interesting. a naturalist once told me that our red huckleberries (Vaccinium parvifolium) are mildly parasitic on conifers through mycorrhizal intermediaries. I don't know if that's actually true, as I've never heard it anywhere else. I can say that every red huckleberry I've encountered is growing on decomposing wood, so I generally incorporate some wood in the dirt whenever I plant a Vaccinium and mulch with chips pretty heavily.

our blueberries seem to be pretty happy. I wonder if the population of wild huckleberries relatively close by was enough to inoculate them with suitable fungus. or maybe some spores or mycelium came in with the wood chips.
 
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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Wild huckleberries grow right on our property and wild blueberries of all kinds live throughout Florida, so I'm guessing the right fungi are already in the soil here. Even if they aren't, when the plants were put in the ground, that fungi surely got innoculated into our soil at that time, already being present in the root ball. Our blueberries are doing great, mulched heavily with pine straw.
 
Posts: 77
Location: Eastern Shore of Virginia, USA, Zone 7b, KeB Bojac Sandy Loam
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Has anyone tried Symbiom's products? http://www.symbiom.cz/index.php?p=distributors&site=en&set_menu=hobby There are two distributors in the USA, but information on the source is so sparse it's hard to tell if it's a scam or whether it's just an unknown resource.

They have a product called Rhodovit: "ERICOID MYCORRHIZA (RHODOVIT®) Grows inside the cortex of roots forming hyphal coils. This type of mycorrhiza colonizes plants of the Ericaceae family including: rhododendron, azaleas, heathers, blueberries, cranberries and dangleberries."
 
pollinator
Posts: 367
Location: East Central GA, Ultisol, Zone 8, Humid
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I didn't know blueberries were ericoid. That's strange indeed. Unfortunately it doesn't look like Symbiom distributes to the US. It's questionable whether the species they include would be appropriate here, anyway.
 
Posts: 360
Location: Portlandia, Oregon
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This is good to know. I will make sure to inoculate all new plantings at new locations with soild from the old.
 
Stewart Lundy
Posts: 77
Location: Eastern Shore of Virginia, USA, Zone 7b, KeB Bojac Sandy Loam
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M Troyka wrote:Unfortunately it doesn't look like Symbiom distributes to the US.



There are two US-distributors:
http://www.californiamycorrhiza.com/
http://www.viaterrallc.com/
 
Stewart Lundy
Posts: 77
Location: Eastern Shore of Virginia, USA, Zone 7b, KeB Bojac Sandy Loam
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Shawn Harper wrote:This is good to know. I will make sure to inoculate all new plantings at new locations with soil from the old.



This would probably be sufficient. And since the symbiotic relationship between Blueberries and their partner mycorrhizae seems so close, it seems strange that any place growing blueberries would have none of this mycorrhizae. Soil from old blueberry plants would probably be sufficient. Especially wild blueberry plants.
 
Posts: 145
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(actually I am the botanist ran referred to)
The trick with blueberries is that when grown in a nursery setting and receiving constant feeding, the roots never get inoculated. So, if you buy a transplant that was container grown, it likely has no mycorrhizae.
 
Marc Troyka
pollinator
Posts: 367
Location: East Central GA, Ultisol, Zone 8, Humid
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It's really hard/impossible to inoculate them once they're grown, too . One more reason to plant exclusively from seed.
 
Bob Dobbs
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Meh, I managed to do it by just lumping forest humus around the roots after five years with no growth. I am specifically referring to rabbiteye blueberries I planted that receive no care or nutrients, and I have no scientific proof that the fungus caught other than the exponentially increased growth rate. I think a heavy downpour washed the soil down a bit, they were planted in a dished area that would allow that to happen instead of washing away. Never actually grew any rabbiteyes from seed, though I have grown a couple thousand from cutting.
 
Marc Troyka
pollinator
Posts: 367
Location: East Central GA, Ultisol, Zone 8, Humid
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Bob Dobbs wrote:Meh, I managed to do it by just lumping forest humus around the roots after five years with no growth. I am specifically referring to rabbiteye blueberries I planted that receive no care or nutrients, and I have no scientific proof that the fungus caught other than the exponentially increased growth rate. I think a heavy downpour washed the soil down a bit, they were planted in a dished area that would allow that to happen instead of washing away. Never actually grew any rabbiteyes from seed, though I have grown a couple thousand from cutting.



Ah, well exponentially better growth is pretty characteristic. I'm surprised that it was able to wash down, generally soil microbes stick to the soil and are resistant to being moved.
 
Posts: 17
Location: Duncan, BC
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"I'm surprised that it was able to wash down, generally soil microbes stick to the soil and are resistant to being moved."
Maybe the blueberries were sending out exudae (is this a word?) calling to the fungi, and they responded. ☺
I'm planting blueberry shrubs today and grateful for the info in this thread. Going out to find a wild huckleberry close by, and robbing it of a couple cc's of soil. Will mix it with the bag of organic compost purchased for the job. Cheers!
 
Dianne Goodacre
Posts: 17
Location: Duncan, BC
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The second huckleberry bush had better soil, and it had some sparkling white dots in it, almost like crystals. Could this be the fungi?
Smells very rich and fresh, and filling the room while I type this.
20180331_124344.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20180331_124344.jpg]
Huckleberry soil sample
 
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