Fungus a Hot Topic at Upcoming Blueberry Growers Meeting

Plant City, FL (August, 29 2014) – Strawberry growers have long been plagued by the fungus Botrytis cinerea, the gray mold that grows on the berry as it rots. But the problem is relatively new to Florida’s blueberry growers. And when the disease is severe, berry loss can significantly cut into profits.

Called Botrytis blossom blight, the disease is highly dependent on environmental conditions. The mold can grow at temperatures between 32 and 70+ degrees Fahrenheit, according to the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS).

Blueberry growers will have a chance to learn about this new challenge at the Florida Blueberry Growers Association’s (FBGA) Winter Meeting and Trade Show October 7 in Plant City. The meeting will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Hillsborough Community College Trinkle Center.

Florida’s blueberry industry has grown from $12.2 in sales during 2000-2001 to $69.1 million during 2010-11, government statistics show. The 2014 season, however, was challenging because the weather delayed the crop, cutting into profits during the lucrative spring marketing window.

At the meeting, growers also will learn about bird control methods, how to control chilli thrips, an insect pest; water use research results; and pruning trial results. The agenda includes an update on the Florida Blueberry Festival held annually in Brooksville and the annual business meeting. Growers will be able to meet with 65 vendors, each one relevant to the blueberry industry. Interested vendors are advised to sign up in advance.

Registration is $15 for FBGA members and $45 for non-members. Lunch, provided by Curly Tails BBQ, is included. Members must pre-register to receive the reduced rate; admission will be $45 each at the door. Vendor both registration costs $350 and includes two lunches.

To register, visit www.floridablueberrygrowers.com.

###

ABOUT THE FLORIDA BLUEBERRY GROWERS ASSOCIATION

The Florida Blueberry Growers Association is an organization devoted to the support, education, and production of Florida blueberry operations.  FBGA represents some 500 members, which include growers, farm operation staff, allied professionals, research and education experts, as well as those interested in Florida blueberries.  To learn more about the organization and membership, visit www.floridablueberrygrowers.com or email flbbga@gmail.com.