The Florida Blueberry Growers Association (FBGA) held its annual meeting and trade show on Oct. 30 in Ocala. Brittany Lee, FBGA president, says the annual meeting is a great opportunity for the blueberry industry to come together.
The meeting featured an educational seminar series focusing on several different topics. University of Florida researchers Oscar Liburd and Phil Harmon kicked off the seminars with presentations on crucial blueberry disease and pest issues. Liburd discussed blueberry gall midge, a pest that has been causing severe crop loss in Florida. Harmon touched on bacterial wilt, a relatively new pathogen that devastates blueberry trees one row at a time. Reports on those seminars will be coming soon.
The seminar series also featured presentations on blueberry pollination, an update from the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council and some insight on Mexico’s blueberry industry. However, Lee says her favorite presentation was the grower panel on mechanical harvesting. “(The panel) really explained to growers what their options are as far as machine harvesting, and how we as growers can reduce our inputs and still provide the same fresh quality fruit,” she explains.
Lee says she hopes the growers walked away with some best practices when it comes to pests and diseases, as well as some new ideas to help bring their production systems into the future. “We want the growers to go away with some new ideas on how to incorporate new technologies and new practices,” she concludes.
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