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New UF/IFAS Blueberry Growers Guide Pesticide Module

The UF/IFAS Blueberry Breeding Program is releasing a new pesticide module on February 6, as part of its UF/IFAS Blueberry Growers Guide app.

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Winter and Early Spring Management Items December - January

December – January 

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Variety Is Key

Managed Bumble Bees Are a Great Way to Bolster Pollination

Are they right for me?

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Thank You For Your Service!

This year is one of transition for the FBGA Board membership. Several old hands who have guided us through challenging years are stepping down to focus on other important obligations with their endorsement of the concept that new board members bring new perspectives and ideas to refresh the board and broaden its inclusion of other growing regions.  

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Thirsty for Growth

Proper Irrigation Is Critical for Blueberries in Late Winter and Spring 

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Fight the Freeze

Protection Checklist

Virtually all blueberry fields in Florida are subject to late winter or early spring freezes that can cause serious reductions in yield. Below is a list of activities for freeze preparation. The list was originally published by Mike Mainland in the North Carolina Blueberry News, Vol. 7, No. 1and has been modified by IFAS faculty and FBGA board members. 

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Bug of the Month

Newer Acaricides Effective in Fighting Blueberry Bud Mite 

The blueberry bud mite (Acalitus vaccinii (Keifer), is an important pest of southern highbush blueberry in Florida. It belongs to a group of microscopic mites known as eriophyid mites. Adults are about 200 microns long, cigar-shaped, wormlike in appearance, transparent and mostly colorless, and disperse primarily by air. All four life stages of the blueberry bud mite live together in large clusters within the scales of the blueberry bud and reproduce there rapidly, with each female laying up to 200 eggs. The length of time to mature from egg to adult is approximately 15 days at 66°F (19°C). The bud mite population has been observed to peak as early as February in Florida, then decline during the hot summer months of June through September. During fall and early winter, all four life stages can be present in low numbers between the scales of dormant floral buds. 

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Drilling Down on Disease

Integrated Approach is Best for Botrytis Blossom Blight

Botrytis blossom blight is an early-season disease impacting southern highbush blueberries. Although not frequently observed causing severe damage in Florida fields most years, infections starting during bloom can later develop into gray mold, which has become an important postharvest disease. The fungal pathogen, Botrytis cinerea, typically infects wounded or senescent floral tissues. As a blueberry bush blooms, white bell-shaped corollas (the fused petal of the flowers) should drop from the flower following pollination but before they senesce (turn brown). However, frost damage can wound plant tissues, delaying petal drop and facilitating infection of the flowers, undeveloped fruit, and damaged twigs and leaves. The pathogen survives in these dead and wounded plant tissues on the blueberry bush and on nearby weedy plants as well. Spores from these sources are abundantly produced when cool, wet periods occur during blueberry bloom through harvest. 

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UF Blueberry Breeding Program Update

Newest Cultivar 'Albus' Set for Release This Summer

The UF/IFAS blueberry breeding program has developed many southern highbush blueberry cultivars, which make up most of the commercial production acreage in Florida today. In 2021,  the program released “Sentinel,” a vigorous, early-season, high-yielding cultivar that has scored high in consumer taste panels. It has performed well in both North-Central and Central Florida trial sites, and trials are being conducted in South-Central Florida to determine its production in that region. 

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Ready for Winter?

As we rang in the new year, many of us were thankful that Jack Frost was no longer nipping at our nose … or crops, for that matter.

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Winter and Early Spring Blueberry Management Items

December – January 

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USHBC Update

Council Launches Several Initiatives to Advance the Blueberry Industry in 2023

As 2022 comes to a close, the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) is preparing to launch a number of promotion programs to help ensure a successful 2023 for the blueberry industry!

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FBGA Spring Field Day and Meeting 2023

Thursday, March 9, 2023

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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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