2014 Blueberry pre-harvest meetings

The blueberry season is moving along quickly and growers need to start preparing for pre-harvest season. Growers are encouraged to attend one of two meetings in Van Buren and Ottawa counties, June 18 and July 2.

From farm visits and visual observations across the blueberry production region in Southwest and West Central Michigan, Michigan State University Extension’s small fruit team has detected considerable winter damage, especially in blueberry fields located inland away from Lake Michigan and in low spots where cold air concentrated during winter days when the temperatures were below zero. Some blueberry varieties were more affected than others, and it is possible to observe fields with substantial winter injury less than a mile away from fields with no or minimal damage. Managing those fields is a challenge that requires special considerations.

In addition to winter damage, once again growers are facing the threat of spotted wing Drosophila (SWD). Our small fruit team has started the deployment of SWD monitoring traps with the new SWD lure that is commercially available this season. These lures are replacing the mix of yeast and sugar that we have used as our standard attractant in our monitoring program.

Finally, we need to be aware that the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is in its final phase before it may start its implementation. We would like to remind growers that MSU Extension is committed to assist the small fruit industry with educational materials and support for growers to develop their food safety program in 2014.

In response to those challenges and to assist the Michigan’s blueberry industry, the small fruit team has programmed two Blueberry Pre-Harvest Meetings for the month of June and July to discuss those issues which are relevant for the crop during the pre-harvest period.

The first meeting will be June 18 in Van Buren County at the Beeches Golf Club, located at 9601 68th Street, South Haven, MI 49090. The second meeting will be July 2 in Ottawa County at the Olive Town Hall, located at 6480 136th, Holland, MI 49424. Both meetings will start at 6 p.m. and finish at 8 p.m.

The agenda for both meetings will be as follows:

6:00 p.m. – Welcome and Introductions
Mark Longstroth, MSU Extension

6:10 p.m. – Industry Update
Bob Carini, Shelly Hartmann & Joe Leduc, Michigan Blueberry Advisory Board

6:30 p.m. – Winter Injury and Nutrient Management
Eric Hanson, MSU Horticulture

7:00 p.m. – Blueberry Disease Control in Pre-Harvest
Annemiek Schilder, MSU Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, and Mark Longstroth, MSU Extension

7:20 p.m. – Preparing for SWD Management in 2014
Rufus Isaacs, MSU Entomology

7:40 p.m. – Preventing Microbial Contamination at Pre-Harvest
Annemiek Schilder, MSU Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, and Carlos Garcia, MSU Extension

8:00 p.m. - Adjourn

Growers attending these meeting will receive two RUPs. Meetings are free of charge, but we recommend registering online so we may estimate the number of handouts and refreshments needed. Growers with special needs may request assistance by contacting Carlos Garcia at 616-260-0671 or garcias4@msu.edu.

We are inviting all blueberry growers to attend the two educational meetings to be updated on the latest recommendations and deal with the above mentioned issues, and provide input to the MSU Extension small fruit program to better serve the needs of Michigan’s blueberry industry.

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