This edition of the Blueberry News will publish as harvest time is really getting kicked into high gear. While the last few months of 2016 did not give our crops as many chill hours as we’ve seen in years past, it was not a complete lack of chill accumulation. That being said, we know all too well that Mother Nature is not always kind to everyone. Our hearts go out to our brother growers in Georgia as they grapple with the  effects of the recent inclement weather. The freeze events to the north that occurred in March may open up opportunities for a longer harvest season for Florida growers. Although it is nearly impossible to predict the volume, most of the Florida fields should have a pretty good harvest.
Remembering last year’s challenges (and, honestly, how can we forget?), here are a few important reminders for harvest time that will hopefully help increase efficiency, volume, and have a positive impact on the price.

  • Harvest every day if you can. Communicate with your crew leaders and labor team to make sure they understand the importance of daily harvest.

 

  • Keep your marketer informed of the volume you will be picking each day. Let him or her know as soon as possible if your actual volume on any given day is going to be significantly different (higher or lower) than you initially projected. If too many farms deliver an unanticipated or unplanned number of pounds to the dock without warning, it could have a negative impact on price. A er each day’s harvest, redo the math and share the new anticipated total as early in the morning as you can.

 

  • Be diligent and stay on top of your SWD, snail, and fungicide program. As a reminder, if you are concerned that moving your sprayer through the eld will knock o fruit, then look into your aerial spraying options. There are several companies that provide this service and cater to blueberry operations.

 

  • If you are open to it, consider opening your farm to the public and host a u-pick. is can help supplement income towards the end of the season, when the pickers are starting to head up north for the Georgia harvest and you still have fruit on the bush. If you are planning on hosting a u-pick (whether it’s for the rst time or not), read the editor’s notes in this edition. She offers some helpful suggestions on marketing your u-pick. Also, the FBGA website has a portal for you to add your farm for u-pick operations and is one of the most popular destinations on the site.

 

Also in this edition, make sure to read these informative articles:

 

  • You will find some insightful perspective and advice from a few seasoned growers on optimizing the farm’s irrigation.

 

  • Learn more about the ongoing blueberry gra ing research being conducted by UF/IFAS.

 

  • Get a glimpse of how our crop is being given the spotlight with the upcoming Florida Blueberry Festival.

 

  • Review the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship and keep that in focus before, during, and a er harvest. Your FBGA Executive Committee and Board of

Directors remain committed to helping our industry grow and thrive. We all volunteer our time to serve you— the growers. Please contact us if we can be of assistance to you in any way.  As always, I wish everyone a safe and profitable season.