By Ashley Robinson
The January issue of VSCNews magazine will be the blueberry grower’s handbook heading into the 2021 season.
Chilli thrips are a growing threat for blueberry growers. Without proper management of the pest, overall plant vigor and yields can be affected. Oscar Liburd, a professor at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) in Gainesville, Fla., shares conventional and organic management tactics that growers can implement to help control these pesky pests.
UF/IFAS has unveiled its newest blueberry variety, Sentinel, named in honor of UF alumna, Alto Straughn. It is a low-chill southern highbush variety and offers increased yields for growers. Brad Buck, UF/IFAS public relations specialist, mentions that Sentinel was ranked “high” in flavor among flavor panels.
America was built on its rich agricultural history. Ryan Atwood, co-owner of H&AFarms in Mt. Dora, Florida, shares the struggles blueberry growers faced in 2020 and growers’ optimism for the year to come. Atwood also discusses the increasing Mexican blueberry volume during the Florida harvest window and its impact on the U.S.
In 2020, mild winter conditions followed by a wet spring contributed to the development of significant disease issues on Georgia blueberries. Jonathan Oliver, an assistant professor at the University of Georgia in Tifton, Georgia, updates Georgia growers on disease management strategies.
Outside of the blueberry spotlight, Kimberly Morgan, an associate professor and Extension economist, and Tara Wade, an assistant professor, both at the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education, share how growers could benefit from enterprise budgets.
Morgan is also joined by Jessica Ryals, a sustainable food systems agent for UF/IFAS, for another article in this month’s issue. These two discuss how an imperfect market system can yield profitable market opportunities for growers.
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