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Bouncing Back

Florida Growers Report Rebound After a Weak 2020

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Summertime Challenges

How to Combat Algal Stem Blotch and Fungal Leaf Diseases

With the blueberry season over and summer upon us, it’s time to get ready for the diseases that will be issues for Florida growers over the next few months. A good scouting tool to use in monitoring for disease in the field is the UF/IFAS Blueberry Growers Guide. Resources in this guide include a diagnostic key, descriptions of symptoms, disease/insect life cycles, suggested management practices, an image gallery, and links to UF/IFAS blueberry extension publications.

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Controlling Chilli Thrips

Tools Available to Growers

Summertime in Florida brings with it an important insect pest on blueberries — chilli thrips. This pest was first recorded in blueberries in Florida in July 2008, and typically feeds on new vegetative growth after post-harvest pruning. Damage on foliage can be significant when there are heavy infestations, and control can sometimes be challenging. Although chilli thrips are familiar to many growers, it’s a good idea to review what we know about it and the control alternatives that are available.

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Essential Elements

Basics of Nutrient Sources for Blueberry Fertilization in Florida

There are 17 nutrient elements essential for blueberry production. These essential nutrient elements include nine macronutrients: carbon (C), hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur (S) and eight micronutrients: iron (Fe), boron (B), copper (Cu), manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo), zinc (Zn), chlorine (Cl), and nickel (Ni), which was added to the list of essential elements in 2004 (https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/HS1191). 

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New UF/IFAS Blueberry Cultivar Selection Tool Available for Growers

With the 2021 Florida blueberry season behind us, Florida growers will begin to determine whether they will plant any new blueberry cultivars and/or remove any existing ones. The UF/IFAS blueberry breeding program has developed a new tool to continue its assistance to growers in this task – a cultivar module included as part of the UF/IFAS Blueberry Growers Guide app. 

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UF researchers are looking for your input!

How do your blueberries get pollinated? What information would help you better manage pollination on your farm?

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Executive Director's Letter:Set to Thrive in Unprecedented Times

Unprecedented is a word that oddly seems to be used with regularity when describing things related to the Florida blueberry industry.  In the past several years, we have seen unprecedented volumes of Mexican blueberries in the Florida window. Last year, there was an unprecedented global pandemic that affected distribution, and sales during that first week of April came to an unprecedented halt.  We have unprecedented weather events, and at times there have been unprecedented demand and challenges with the H2A program… the list goes on.

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President's Letter: A Season of Perseverance and Adaptation

Every year Florida Blueberry growers approach the new harvest season with great anticipation dampened somewhat by a cloud of trepidation. There are so many factors at play that can move the outcome from good to bad that growers must be on their toes to steer their farms into and through the white waters of harvest season. We try to control what we can, but weather and the market can play havoc with our best laid plans.

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Growers’ Thoughts: Sentinel Cultivar to Be Planted in South Florida This Summer

Last fall, the University of Florida announced the release of a new southern highbush blueberry cultivar, Sentinel. It is an early, vigorous, high-yielding cultivar that has performed well in both North-Central and Central Florida, with no observed disease issues. It was not previously included in South Florida trial sites, but it will be planted at southern trial locations this summer. Also, machine harvest trials including this cultivar will begin next season. Sentinel has been tested in multiple flavor panels at UF, with tasters giving its flavor a high rating. 

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Angle's Letter: Identifying Leaders in the Field

Among the most important things I’ll do as head of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is identify leaders who make a great impact on Florida agriculture. When I got to hire my first department chair, I discovered two leaders. One was the guy who got the job, Chris Gunter. The second was Brittany Lee.

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Suggested Blueberry Management Items for April

The table below lists suggested blueberry management items for April. Suggested management items for the entire calendar year are available in an EDIS publication, Calendar for Southern Highbush Blueberry Management in Florida (https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/HS/HS136300.pdf).

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The Blueberry News Publisher's Letter

The virtual Spring 2021 Field Day on March 8. 

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Determined, Not Defeated

Florida Blueberry Growers Regroup After Troubling Trade Ruling

United States blueberry growers swallowed a bitter pill this winter after their plea with the U.S. International Trade Commission to stem the tide of imported blueberries.

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Fight the Mighty Mites

Tips on Controlling Southern Red Mite and False Spider Mite in Blueberries

Mite damage can be significant on blueberries, and high infestations can result in defoliation. The southern red mite (Oligonychus ilicis) is the primary pest in both open-field and protected (e.g., greenhouse or high tunnel) production on southern highbush blueberry (SHB) in Florida. The false spider mite, or flat mite (Brevipalpus yothersi Baker), was first reported on SHB in 2016, and is more typically seen during the summer. 

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Essentials of Pruning

Hedging and topping the Southern Highbush Blueberry can help minimize stress, shape plants, control size, and promote growth

Pruning is an essential practice for commercial blueberry production. Pruning can be used to minimize plant stress, shape plants for mechanical harvest or other operations, promote growth of new fruiting wood, balance reproductive and vegetative growth, reduce incidence of pests and diseases, control plant size, and promote new cane development. 

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Planning a World-Class Blueberry Lab

To build a better blueberry, the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is building a better blueberry lab in Gainesville. By mid-2022, we expect to complete U.S. higher education’s premier blueberry breeding headquarters.

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Executive Director's Letter: Washington Failing to Help Florida Blueberry Farmers

Like most of you, my blueberry farm is family-owned. Our Florida industry is made up of more than 900 blueberry farms across the state, and collectively we employ 2,500 workers and generate an annual economic impact of $295 million. But this year, we face a challenge to our livelihoods. We’re being pounded by a flood of low-priced blueberry imports from Mexico, Peru and other countries. 

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President's Letter: We’re Coming to a Crossroads

It’s no secret that Florida Blueberry growers are facing ever-increasing challenges to the well-being of our industry. Despite the nicely expanding demand for blueberries, this positive trend is swamped by a massive explosion of imported fruit flooding our coveted early domestic market. Despite the progress made by the USHBC in capturing a larger “share of mind” with consumers, convincing more and more people of the convenience and health benefits of blueberries, it is not enough to turn the tide. An increase of tens of millions of pounds of fruit from other countries is a tidal wave inundating our short market window resulting in much lower prices even as the cost of producing quality, food-safe Florida fruit pressures our growers. 

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Publishers Interlude: The Hustle and Bustle of Harvest Season

‘Tis the season! No, not that season. This is our season — harvest season! It’s a busy season that is not without its challenges, but it’s also a time when Florida blueberry growers are in their element and make the most of the work they’ve put in all year.

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Grower’s Thoughts: Farmers Optimistic About Crop, Rebound in U-pick Operations

As we enter the harvesting season for Florida’s blueberry growers, many farmers are breathing a sigh of relief that this year is looking better than last. With COVID-19 hitting Florida in March of 2020, farmers, like so many others, found themselves thrown into a state of uncertainty and chaos. Mandatory shutdowns caused demand for most of Florida’s crops to plummet, as schools, restaurants, and resorts were forced to temporarily close. 

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