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Blueberry Management March

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Blueberry Management

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UF Breeding Program Releases 2 New Cultivars

The University of Florida blueberry breeding program has released two new southern highbush blueberry cultivars that should be available to growers in 2025. These cultivars were selected for the evergreen production system and have performed very well in on-farm trials in both South-Central and Central Florida. They are both early season producers with very high yields, very firm fruit, excellent flavor, and good evergreen foliage. These new releases are “FL17-141” and “FL19-006.” 

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BUG OF THE MONTH

Flower Thrips Threaten Fruit Quality, Quantity

The Florida flower thrips (Frankliniella bispinosa Morgan) are a pest of southern highbush blueberries in Florida that are present during bloom. Larvae and adults feed on all parts of the flowers (ovaries, styles, petals) and developing fruit. Feeding damage can reduce pollination of the injured blooms, and therefore the quantity and quality of fruit produced from those blooms. Adult females can also cause indirect injury to fruit when laying their eggs inside flower tissues (Figure 1 c). The newly hatched larvae create holes in the flower tissue when they emerge, resulting in scarring of the fruit. 


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Save the Dates!


Spring Meeting and Farm Tour


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Winter and Early Spring Blueberry Management Items

January – March 

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A Grower’s Guide to El Niño

Weather Pattern Can Affect Nutrient Management and Fungal Disease

 

We spent the past three winters in a La Niña pattern, which favors warm and dry weather in Florida. This year, a mature and strong El Niño pattern is present in the tropical Pacific Ocean and is expected to continue during the winter and spring seasons. The El Niño–Southern Oscillation, or ENSO, is the interannual fluctuation of the atmosphere–ocean system in the equatorial Pacific and it has three phases: warm phase (El Niño), cold phase (La Niña), and Neutral. 

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Focus on the Fungus

Successfully Manage Anthracnose and Botrytis During the Wet Winter Months

With a wet El Niño winter forecasted for Florida in 2024, growers should focus on plans to minimize and manage flower and fruit fungal diseases. Anthracnose fruit rot and Botrytis blossom blight are the most prevalent and significant winter and early spring diseases in Florida.

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Anthracnose Fruit Rot Alerts In the Palm of Your Hand

Blueberry Advisory System Now Available as a Phone App

The Blueberry Advisory System (BAS) is a weather-based alert system that signals Florida blueberry growers when environmental conditions are favorable for the development of anthracnose fruit rot (AFR) and provides other data to help growers manage this disease. 

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Are You Ready for the Freeze?

Virtually all blueberry fields in Florida are subject to late winter or early spring freezes, which can cause serious reductions in yield. This 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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Beating the Freeze

 Protect Your Crop When Temperatures Plummet

Untimely late winter and early spring freezes are one of the most problematic and yield-limiting phenomena that routinely impact blueberry production in Florida as well as other southeastern states. If you grow blueberries in Florida, it’s a pretty safe bet that you will need to protect your crop from freezing temperatures during the upcoming pre-bloom, bloom and/or post-bloom periods. I can only think of one year during the last 25 when we did not need to run overhead irrigation to freeze protect our blueberry research plots at the Plant Research and Education Unit in Citra. However, in a different year, we had to run overhead irrigation on nearly 20 separate nights. One truth about Florida’s winter weather is that it is consistently inconsistent. This article will review information that growers will likely want to consider when making decisions about freeze protection this coming year.  



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Holding Out Hope for a Good 2024 Season

I started this letter listing a bunch of threats facing Florida Blueberry growers in 2024.  As I penciled my list, I began to realize I was being too negative and had no business inviting my fellow growers to a pointless pity party. After all, as I write, the excitement of a new year is right around the corner. Now is the time to look on the bright side, and I submit the glass is half full and we have many reasons to anticipate a prosperous season. I’m going on the record that I’m optimistic about the 2024 Florida blueberry crop and its potential for a big improvement over the past few years. 

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USHBC Update

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A Florida Blueberry Season for the Fall, Too? Recent Report Has Us Buzzing

Happy New Year! At The Blueberry News, we like to start the year with optimism and hope.

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This Month in Florida Blueberries

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Blueberry Gall Midge Management

Blueberry gall midge larvae feed on blueberry floral bud tissues, causing brown lesions, and bud death and abortion (Figure 1). When there is heavy gall midge injury, the bloom will typically be lighter since many of these buds will abort, resulting in decreased fruit set. It should be noted that poor fruit set and excessive dropping of undeveloped green fruit can also be caused by poor pollination.

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A Great Way to Better Your Blueberry Farm

Pretty much everyone in the Florida Blueberry Industry knows what a challenging year it was. Remember Hurricane Ian, the December holiday freezes, huge crop input inflation, labor cost escalation and labor regulation, overall lower grower prices for our fruit, even increasingly serious insect pressure despite our best efforts. 

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The Phosphorus Factor

Latest Research Shows Blueberry Roots Mining for the Essential Element

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Meet a Board Member: Jack Green of Clear Springs

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No Rest From Pests

What to Watch For This Season: Southern Red Mite & Blueberry Gall Midge

The two primary blueberry pests to monitor and control in fall and early winter are southern red mite and blueberry gall midge. 

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