Brandon Wade, president of the Georgia Blueberry Growers Association, spoke with AgNet Media’s Josh McGill in October at the Produce Marketing Association’s 2017 Fresh Summit in New Orleans, Louisiana.
“If we don’t have any bad freeze issues, then we can probably actually break the 100 million pounds mark for the state of Georgia in production,” Wade predicted.
2017 was a “building season” for growers, Wade said, because of a strong freeze that took place earlier in the year.
There are some growers that have had issues combating botrytis, a stem blight disease, in their crops. Wade said this disease is primarily in older varieties. He suggested two remedies to this problem. First, he said if a grower does want to remain growing the older varieties, it is important to use improved pruning techniques and apply fungicide to the crop following pruning. Another possible solution is to rotate the older varieties with newer varieties that offer higher yields, better taste and bigger berries — “everything the consumer likes,” Wade said.
Though the industry is uncertain about the number of chilling hours it will get, Wade is optimistic about the season and the possibilities for blueberry growers.
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