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Come, Meet, Learn, Apply

By now I hope you have scheduled a day to join your fellow Florida Blueberry Growers at our Fall Conference and Trade Show on October 20. If you come, you’ll get to meet with fellow growers with whom you have a great deal in common. They share many of the same challenges and rewards of growing blueberries in Florida that you do. You’ll learn about the latest research and advice from experts that are targeted specifically to growing blueberries successfully in our climatic conditions. I promise you’ll get more out of your participation at the conference than it costs you in the small amount of time and expense you invest.  

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A Critical Time for Blueberries

 Fall/Winter Irrigation and Fertilization Are Key to Bud Formation and Cold Acclimation

Fall may seem like a quiet time in blueberry fields, but important processes are silently occurring such as flower bud formation for next year’s crop and cold acclimation for the upcoming winter. When blueberry plants enter fall, they should have developed a canopy of moderately vigorous shoots with healthy leaves that developed following postharvest pruning during the summer. 

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USHBC Developing Best-in-Class Data and Insights Program

With a goal of helping growers make data-informed business decisions, the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) has launched an effort to develop a best-in-class data and insights program for the blueberry industry. 

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Evergreen Challenges

Recommendations for Rust Management in the Evergreen System

The evergreen production system for southern highbush blueberry (SHB) is used extensively in the south-central and central regions of Florida. Under this system, blueberry plants do not go dormant and are harvested early in the season. One of the primary management requirements in the evergreen system is to keep the foliage healthy and intact through the harvest season. A significant challenge to accomplishing this is fungal leaf disease, especially rust. This article will provide some background and information on this disease, as well as a suggested fungicide program to minimize the incidence and severity of rust.

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Grower 411

Fall and Early Winter Suggested Blueberry Management Items

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Grower's Thoughts

The Blueberry Advisory System, a Grower Tool for Timing Anthracnose Fruit Rot Controls

Anthracnose fruit rot (AFR), also called ripe rot, is a fungal disease that can damage blueberry fruit, resulting in sunken lesions, softening, shriveling, and rotting of berries, along with eruptions of salmon-orange masses of spores. Symptoms typically start at the blossom end of the berry and cause the fruit to be unmarketable, affecting pack-out percentages and grower revenues. AFR infections can occur as early as bloom, with symptoms often not appearing until the fruit ripens or after it has been harvested and stored. Warm, wet weather is conducive to the development of AFR, with temperatures between 59-81°F (15-27°C) and leaf wetness duration of more than 12 hours the most favorable for infection. Rainfall or overhead irrigation disperses the pathogen to uninfected fruit and plants, creating additional opportunities for infection. The pathogen can also be spread by fruit-to-fruit contact, harvesting machinery, and sorting equipment. 

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Unfair Imports

FBGA Joins Agencies in Support of Trade Petition

In early September, a bipartisan group of Florida’s congressional delegation, led by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Al Lawson, filed a Section 301 petition on behalf of Florida’s fruit and vegetable producers.

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Bug of the Month

Fall and Early Winter Bring Threat of Southern Red Mite and Blueberry Gall Midge

Two of the primary pests typically observed on southern highbush blueberries in Florida during the fall and early winter months are southern red mites and blueberry gall midge.

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One Solution Doesn’t Fit All

Not All Cultivars Respond Well to Hydrogen Cyanamide

Chill hour accumulation is important for timely and vigorous spring growth in southern highbush blueberry (SHB). Some SHB cultivars exhibit slow or delayed leaf growth and canopy development during emergence from dormancy if grown in low-chill areas under the deciduous production system. Delayed leaf canopy development can result in slower fruit ripening, reduced fruit quality, and plant stress, especially for plants that set a moderate to heavy crop. Hydrogen cyanamide (HC), trade names Dormex™ and BudPro®, is a plant growth regulator that may be a useful tool for stimulating earlier and stronger spring leafing of certain SHB cultivars grown under the deciduous production system in Florida or in other low-chill areas. Where spring leafing is significantly advanced by HC, the harvest season is often earlier and more concentrated than would otherwise occur. Increased berry weight (size) and a slight increase in total yield have also been noted in some cases, but the main advantages are earlier and more concentrated berry harvests. 

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Meet Beth Eng, Interim Executive Director

 

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Striking a Balance

Proper Summer Irrigation, Fertilization Needed for Productive Fields

by JEFF WILLIAMSON & DOUG PHILLIPS

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It Starts at the Nursery

How to Spot Common Problems Early to Ensure a Healthy Start

by PHIL HARMON & DOUG PHILLIPS

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Pests and Pollinators

Are We Spraying the Bees Away?

by JOHN TERNEST & DR. RACHEL MALLINGER

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President's Letter: I Hear Harvest 2022 Went Pretty Well

I have heard this common theme from a number of growers. The 2022 season was described as “decent,” “an OK year,” or “I’m pretty happy with the season.”  Not bad praise coming from a bunch of farmers. 

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USHBC Update

It’s Time to Put Blueberries in the Spotlight

by JENNI SPARKS, North American Blueberry Council

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Grower 411

Summer Highbush Blueberry Management Items

   

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Publisher's Interlude: Changing Times

It’s amazing to observe how inflation, cheap imports, and labor costs are changing the landscape of agriculture across the country regardless of the crop. The swift changes are forcing farmers to think on their feet and quickly adapt in order to stay relevant and in business. Fortunately, these are traits most farmers, especially those right here in Florida, already possess. (I could rattle off a list of all the qualities our growers exhibit, but chances are good you already know them because you’re one of them.)

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Thrip Threat

Be On the Lookout for Chilli Thrips This Summer

Chilli thrips are a significant pest on southern highbush blueberries in Florida with the potential to cause heavy foliage damage from late spring through early fall. Although there are insecticides with efficacy on chilli thrips, the numbers of applications used and cost of products have become a significant management issue for Florida growers. 

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Right On Target

Monitoring and Managing Target Spot in Southern Highbush Blueberry

Target spot, a fungal leaf disease, is caused by the Corynespora cassiicola pathogen. It was first reported in blueberry in the US (on “Jewel” in Central Florida) in 2014. Florida growers have reported significant defoliation due to target spot on many southern highbush blueberry (SHB) cultivars since then. 

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Prudent Pruning

Strategies for New and Mature Southern Highbush Blueberries

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