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Preparing for the Freeze

Your Winter Crop Survival Checklist 

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President's Letter: The Blueberry Grower’s Pancake

… Or how Florida growers are getting squeezed between cost increases and pricing pressures.

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Grower’s Thoughts: Minimize the Risk of Anthracnose Fruit Rot

Anthracnose fruit rot (AFR) is the most significant disease that directly affects the fruit of blueberries in Florida. In years past, AFR, also known as ripe rot, has been of minor concern for Florida growers; however, within the last three to five years, reports of substantial losses are on the rise. In this article, we will try to understand the disease cycle, factors that can promote disease, and management tools to reduce disease risk in your field. AFR is a real heartbreaker that can not only reduce the amount of harvestable fruit just as the year’s investment starts to pay out but then come back with the sucker punch of reducing the quality and quantity of the harvested berries due to fruit spoilage, lower pack-outs, and shorter shelf life. 

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Publisher's Interlude: Turning Point

Nobody ever said farming was easy. There will always be anticipated trials and victories, and there will even be unexpected challenges. So it’s a good thing Florida blueberry growers are so resilient in the face of adversity. No other time has made that more evident than the past two years. Blindsided by a pandemic that left many with no way to unload their crops only to see their hard work get lost in the tsunami of cheap foreign exports, particularly from Mexico, growers faced a crucial deciding point. Some smaller farms, unable to compete with the influx, were forced to shutter operations. Still, last year marked a turning point of sorts because as it turns out, the 2021 season was pretty decent for most Florida growers. Here’s why.

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Executive Director's Letter: Coming Together in the Fight for Our Industry

As the new year gets underway, the Florida blueberry industry has much to look forward to. Blueberries have a bright future!

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A Persistent Pest

Control Measures for Blueberry Gall Midge 

Blueberry gall midge (BGM) is a longstanding and persistent pest of blueberries in Florida, especially in North-Central Florida and some areas of Central Florida. Adult BGM lay eggs in floral and vegetative buds as the scales begin to open, and the larvae feed on the developing tissue in the buds (Figure 1). With floral buds, this leads to damage, necrosis, and death of the buds, resulting in reduced yields. The injury from gall midge can appear as brown, dried-out buds that disintegrate and fall from the stems resulting in reduced bloom, and situations where only one or two florets emerge from a damaged floral bud instead of a more typical 5 or 6 florets. In vegetative buds, new emerging shoots and foliage are damaged and appear as black and distorted tissue. 

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Water Matters

Basics of Blueberry Irrigation Management for Florida Growers

credit: JEFF WILLIAMSON & DOUG PHILLIPS

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Seizing a Key Opportunity for Blueberry Promotion

With health and nutrition being key benefits of blueberries, National Nutrition Month®in March is a natural fit for the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) to rally around and leverage as its first “power period” of 2022. 

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Weathering the Winter

Essential Preparations for Blueberry Freeze Protection

Freeze protection is an essential part of blueberry production in Florida, especially in the northern and central parts of the state. Although the past couple of winters have been warmer than usual, growers need to carefully monitor weather forecasts and plan accordingly to avoid possible crop damage. Freeze protection typically involves using overhead irrigation to reduce the impact of freezing temperatures on susceptible floral and fruit tissues.

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New Berry Honors Industry Trailblazer

UF’s Sentinel Cultivar Named After Florida Blueberry Pioneer Straughn

 

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Fight Ripe Rot the Right Way

How to Spot and Stop Anthracnose Fruit Rot

Anthracnose fruit rot (AFR), or ripe rot, is a fungal disease that can cause fruit softening, sunken lesions, and post-harvest rot of blueberry fruit. AFR has been observed across Florida in recent years and can sometimes be a significant issue. The disease is more severe when favorable weather conditions persist and when fruit remains on the bush for longer periods between harvests. However, there are fungicide controls and good management practices which can help reduce the impacts of this disease.

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Publisher's Interlude: Optimism Isn’t a Choice, It’s the Way We Live

A farmer must be an optimist, or he wouldn’t still be a farmer.

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What’s the Buzz?

The Best Practices for Blueberry Pollination Might Not Be What You’d Expect

Honey Bees

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President's Letter: Now, More Than Ever, It’s Time to Pull Together

Welcome to Year 2021. With great hope, we will soon put the turmoil of 2020 and the coronavirus behind us! As a grower, and now also your incoming president of the Florida Blueberry Growers Association, I have shared in many of your travails. Even without the disruptions the pandemic waged on our critical spring harvest, 2020 was destined to be a challenge with the flooding of our narrow market window with massive increases of “cheap” imported fruit. COVID-19 may dissipate as the year progresses, but the trends threatening our livelihood will not quickly abate.

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Executive Director's Notes: Heading Into the New Year WIth Hope

2020 came with new challenges for our industry and for the country. While Florida blueberry growers were ramping up their harvest season, the nation was shutting down. As Congress passed relief legislation, our industry was passed over.

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Grower’s Thoughts: New Management Calendar Module for UF/IFAS Blueberry Growers Guide App

CREDIT: Doug Phillips, UF Blueberry Extension Coordinator

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President’s Letter: So You Want to Mechanical Harvest?

The first thing to do is ask yourself: Is it a tactical or strategic decision? For many growersmachine harvesting can bea useful tactic to extend the season or do final cleanup after the pick crew moves on. It’s an ideal way to evaluate whether it might fit into your long-term plans. As a strategy, where most or all of the fruit is to be machine-harvested, you need to make a serious commitment to plan all the details then devote considerable resources to build the enabling farm infrastructure.

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Angle's Letter: Better Breeds, Better Breeders

The more talent Patricio Muñoz can recruit to his lab, the quicker he can get new varieties out to you, and he just got a powerful magnet to attract that talent.

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Executive Director’s Letter: The United Blueberry Taskforce: Adopting a Collaborative Approach to Industry Growth

As a Florida blueberry grower, I have experienced first-hand the pressures of global competition on my business. As consumer demand for blueberries has grown, domestic and global production has also greatly expanded to meet the needs of what has become a year-round market here in the United States. My desire to address the many challenges our family business faces in this global marketplace is what drove me to participate as a member of the United Blueberry Task Force (UBTF).

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Fueling Blueberry Demand and Consumption: USHBC’s 2021-25 Strategic Plan

New Five-Year Plan Sets the Course to Make Blueberries the World’s Favorite Fruit

CREDIT: Kasey Cronquist

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