Northern highbush blueberries

Last changed: 06 December 2023

Crop management in high tunnel and in the open field with emphasis on substrate and nutrients

Project Manager: Håkan Asp, Department of Biosystems and Technology, SLU.

Project Group: Siri Caspersen, Sammar Khalil och Birgitta Svensson, all at the Department of Biosystems and Technology, SLU. Marie Olsson, Department of Plant Breeding, SLU.

This project focuses on crop management of blueberries in high tunnel and in the open field with emphasis on substrate and nutrients. The fact that blueberries prefer acid soils raises several questions concerning suitable substrates in combination with mycorrhizal inoculation and fertilization in an organic production system.  Field experiments with three cultivars of blueberries are established at Rånna Experimental Station, Skövde since 2011 aiming to optimize a sustainable production of high quality blueberries. Two different substrates is used, peat and bark or peat/bark mixed with forest soil. The effect of different organic fertilizers and mykorrhiza will be studied.

The project will investigate the possibilities of an optimized organic production of highbush blueberries in a Nordic climate and the main objectives are to:

  1. Study plant performance in high tunnel and in open field, with regard to cultivars and substrates, differences in plant development, yield, pest problems and climatic adaption.
  2. Investigate the importance of mycorrhizal inoculation for plant establishment and for the uptake of nutrients from organic fertilizers and on the inner quality regarding health beneficial substances. In this part of the project changes in the soil micro flora will also be investigated.


The production of highbush blueberries is increasing worldwide. The world production 2014 was 330 000 tonnes and has been four-folded during the last three decades. In Sweden there are approximately 12 hectares of blueberries and some minor part in glasshouse production. Today organic production of blueberries is very limited, but is expected to have a great potential to expand as the berries are popular and have a good shelf life.