Wild Blueberry Newsletter – August 2014
Wild Blueberry Crop 2013
NASS released the Non Citrus Fruit and Nuts Summary 2013 on July 17, 2014 that included the wild blueberry crop for 2013 at 87.13 million pounds which is now 10% of the total North American blueberry crop.
Wild Blueberry Crop Prospects for 2014
Maine Crop – Dave Yarborough, University of Maine Cooperative Extension
The blueberry plants in Maine had a long fall but a cold winter that extended into March, so plants were delayed in their development and pollination occurred later than normal. We did observe some winter injury and there were scattered frosts, but not much damage occurred. Despite the delay we had a large bloom so there were plenty of blossoms, providing the potential for a large crop. We had very few infection periods for mummyberry disease so most growers were able to protect their plants with just one fungicide application. There was little Botrytis blossom blight observed this year. We had poor conditions at the beginning of pollination, so some fields in the mid-coast had poor pollination but pollination conditions improved in early June when most of the crop was in bloom, so set was very good in the coastal Downeast fields. Tony Jadzack’s estimate for bees contracted to pollinate wild blueberries is 75 to 80 thousand hives, which continues the trend of a “new” record number of hives used to pollinate Maine’s blueberry crop. In Jonesboro, we received 4.78, 3.27 and 3.39 inches of rain in April, May and June respectively and had 2.88 inches at the beginning of July with hurricane Arthur, so moisture has been more than adequate which has provided for both good blueberry and weed growth. Crop progress is still delayed but could catch up with warmer temperatures and so if we continue to get adequate moisture for the remainder of the summer, the crop in Maine could be above average at 90 to 95 million pounds.
Quebec Crop – Samuel Cote, Quebec Wild Blueberries Inc.
In most areas in Quebec, we had good snow coverage over the winter. Our spring was cold and cloudy and it took longer than usual to melt all the snow. We did not notice any winter injury. Pollination was on time, but unfortunately some beekeepers had a rough winter and in some areas they lost up to 80% of their bee hives. Since many growers received less bee hives than ordered, more leaf cutter bees and bumble bees were used. The good news is we had favorable temperatures for the pollination period. We did not notice any frost during bloom or disease. As up today July 1, we need some water, as we have had several warm days in a row without any rain, and we are entering a dry period. If we get good weather, we believe that Quebec could have 65-70 million pounds of wild blueberries which includes both the forest and managed fields.
Nova Scotia Crop – Peter Burgess, Perennia
Nova Scotia had a cold winter and a delayed start to the growing season compared to the last couple of years. Some winter damage is evident but it is relatively minor. It was cold and wet until early May but conditions were relatively dry through the Monilinia season. The weather was dry and sunny through bloom for the bulk of the province with low Botrytis pressure. There were three separate frost events in mid-bloom that did take some yield in a few areas but again overall it appears to be minor. Nova Scotia again brought in 4000+ hives from Ontario through the import permit program. Domestically Nova Scotia had lower winter bee losses, but challenges bringing in packages resulted in some lower hive numbers for pollination. The use of bumble bee quads is also increasing. There were lots of native pollinators throughout the province this year. Nova Scotia looks to have a good to very good fruit set and yields should be above 40 million pounds. The biggest concern for growers as we head into harvest is SWD. There is a continued effort among growers and researchers to monitor for this pest in 2014.
New Brunswick Crop – Mike Melanson, New Brunswick DAAF
Generally, winter injury was minimal in most fields although dead tips of the plant were observed during bloom, either from winter or the cold spring as bud development occurred. Bud development was two weeks later compared to the past few years. A few infection periods for Monilinia blight occurred, and required growers to apply two applications of fungicide. Botrytis blight was notice in some fields; however, fields were a fungicide was applied in early bloom had very little symptoms. There was a few frost periods during bloom, but damage was minimal. In most fields, bloom was good to very good bloom, except for fields were there was a lot of damage from tip midge or sucking bugs. In the southern region, early bloom weather was poor, but as the season progressed, the weather for pollination improved. Generally, the weather conditions were very good in the Northeast, where the bulk of the production is established. Rainfall this year has been good in all regions. At this time, the crop is still delayed, but with some warm temperatures over the next few weeks, the crop maturity should catch up. Provided that adequate rainfall occurs over the next month, the crop in New Brunswick should be good, likely matching or surpassing the recent crops of 44-46 million pounds of the past few years.
PEI Crop – Chris Jordan, PEI DAF
The 2014 crop season in PEI started last fall with an above average amount of snow cover arriving early and continuing well into the spring. This resulted in very little winter kill and a delayed start to the growing season. The spring was cool and wet with several infection periods for Monilinia blight taking place. Most growers required two applications of fungicides for Monilinia protection. Pollination was delayed but weather was good overall with the exception of a cool, wet period during bloom. A couple frost events had minimal effect on the blossom, although a few early clones were affected. PEI beekeepers had approximately 18% winter kill and were able to provide 6,225 colonies to blueberry pollination in addition to 1,500 colonies imported from Ontario. Approximately 1,700 colonies were also imported from Nova Scotia. Fields expressed a large volume of bloom in 2014. Botrytis blight was a problem in some areas, but not wide spread. Small pockets of spanworm were reported but did not cause significant damage. Spotted Wing Drosophila will be the focus from now until harvest and a cooperative effort is in place to monitor for SWD between the Department of Agriculture & Forestry and Processors. SWD findings will be published through an SWD Alert system (email/text messages). PEI is projecting a harvest in excess of 17 million pounds in 2014.
Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) Updates
We have begun to see the Spotted Winged Drosophila (SWD) in wild blueberry fields. SWD is a new invasive pest native to eastern Asia. We know that when SWD maggots are found in fruit it will produce a significant crop loss if not controlled. It is important to monitor for this pest in your own field (see SWD Management Recommendations for Michigan Blueberries, https://extension.umaine.edu/blueberries/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2014/07/SWDManagementforMichiganBlueberries_-June212014.pdf ).
Wild blueberry growers can also receive timely updates on SWD fly captures from Cooperative Extension on our email listserv. If you are not receiving the wild blueberry listserv updates fill out the “Wild Blueberry Newsletter” form at https://extension.umaine.edu/blueberries/newsletters/ and be sure to include your e-mail address. You may also check the Wild Blueberry Blog at https://extension.umaine.edu/blueberries/blog/ for updates.
If you do not have a computer, your local library can help with web access. Currently, this pest has no natural enemies in Maine to keep populations in check. However, fruit growers across the country are successfully monitoring and managing SWD to maintain yields and fruit quality.
If you are a person with a disability and need an accommodation to participate in this program, please call David Yarborough at 1-800-897-0757 to discuss your needs. Receiving requests for accommodations at least 10 days before the program provides a reasonable amount of time to meet the request, however all requests will be considered.
Wild blueberry fact sheets, past newsletters, contacts, resource links, calendar of events, and more can be found at the wild blueberry website: www.wildblueberries.maine.edu
Information in this publication is provided purely for educational purposes. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of products or services mentioned. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.
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