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2011 Newsletters - Wild Blueberry Newsletter – August 2011

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wild blueberry newsletter headerAugust 2011

Wild Blueberry Crop Prospects

Maine – The blueberry plants in Maine came through the winter well with little or no winter injury. We had a late spring, initially plant growth was about a week later than average and consequently, bees were put in the field too early. We had wet and cold conditions at the beginning of pollination so fields in the mid-coast areas had less than adequate pollination. Pollination weather improved at the end of May and early June so set was very good in Downeast fields which invested in pollinators. Tony Jadzack indicated 64,219 hives entered Maine for wild blueberry crop pollination this spring. Hives originated from: AR, CA, FL, GA, NC, SC, OK, MI, LA and TX. When Maine wintered hives (non-migratory, operated by Maine commercial and sideline beekeepers) are included approximately 65,149 hives were used in 2011, this was close to the record 69,298 hives used in 2008. Fewer Maine wintered hives were used for blueberry pollination this spring because of high winter mortality. We did have a number of infection periods for mummy berry disease with either rain or high winds, so it was difficult to get the fungicide applications on to prevent the disease. There was some infection but in many of the fields the damage was minimal, but those that did not apply fungicides experienced extensive damage. In Jonesboro, we received only 4.98 and 4.94 inches of rain in April and May respectively but only got 2.38 inches in June and had only1.55 inches total for July.  High temperatures early this spring put the plants under stress and there was more herbicide injury observed this year than in the past. Rainfall was inadequate in both June and early July.  I have seen plants with leaf burn and leaf drop caused by the lack of rainfall.  The showers in early August have helped and if we get adequate moisture for the remainder of the summer, the crop in Maine could be slightly below average at 75 to 80 million pounds.

Nova Scotia – Nova Scotia had a good winter, with good snow cover which resulted in low winter damage.  Plant development was delayed compared to last year and was closer to a normal year.  There were extended wet periods throughout early bud stage and into bloom.  This caused various problems and many producers were required to put on two blight applications.  As a result there were some fields with heavy Monilinia infections.  The cool wet weather also made it a challenge to put on both fungicide and herbicide applications. The bloom and sprout fields developed quickly over a short period of time and put growers under a time crunch for many input applications.  As a result some sprout fields did not receive Velpar at an ideal time and some damage has been observed. Bloom through most of the province was not ideal.  There was evidence of a lot of native pollinators, but not many ideal flying days for honeybees may have reduced pollination of a decent looking bloom. Fruit set is variable throughout the province and poor weed control in 2010 is the cause for some of this.  Septoria and Valdensinia are visible in fields and weather conditions from now through harvest will influence their effect on the crop.  Early July brought on dry, hot weather which is beginning to stress the crop.  Two rainfall events in mid- July helped size the fruit and maintain plant health for a week or two.  Nova Scotia looks to be close to the average of the last several years, with some potential to move up from the 33 million pounds from last year, so estimate is at 35 million pounds.

Quebec – The wild blueberry plants in Québec came through the winter with very little to no damage.  This spring, we received a lot of water and the crop was delayed at least 10 days compared to last year.  At the end of May and June we experienced drought, but it provided good pollination weather.  Also, we had no significant spring frost compared to last year.  Quebec bee hives over-wintered with little or no loss.  Unfortunately, because of the dry summer in 2011, blueberry plants are a lot smaller than normal.  Therefore we expect to have less fruit per stem, so the Québec crop is estimated to be 40 million pounds or less.

New Brunswick –The blueberry plants came through the winter with very little winter injury.  Plants emerge closer to the normal timing for bud development in the spring, with the northeast region being delayed by about one week.  It was a very wet spring and there were several Monilnia blight infection periods.  Generally growers who applied two applications of a fungicide at the correct timing had very good control.  Fields with no fungicide application had a high level of Monilinia flower blight.  The wet condition persisted throughout flowering, however there were likely enough days for the bees to visit flowers.  Fewer honey bee hives were rented by blueberry growers because they were not available.  Early indication is of an okay fruit set with a good yield potential.  Rain showers have occurred weekly, and the fields are very lush with growth.  Septoria and Valdensinia leaf spot symptoms are now visible on the leaves.  Overall, the 2011 production will be near provincial average of 27 million pounds.

Prince Edward Island – Most blueberry fields wintered well in PEI with only small pockets of winter/salt injury reported in areas along the north shore of the province.  A long wet spring provided good conditions for Monilinia blight infections even though temperatures remained cool.  Most crop fields were covered twice with fungicides.  This weather pattern seemed to delay crop development marginally with pollination season beginning the first of June.  The majority of June saw cooler temperatures and wet periods.  However, there were some very good flying days for the bees, but this occurred during late bloom.  Despite the weather, fruit set was achieved over an extended period of time.  This may result in uneven maturity and subsequent losses at harvest time.  Isolated low lying areas were subjected to frost down to 29°F on June 1st .  This will have minimal impact on the overall crop. Pest pressures remain low although spanworm and leaf tier problems have been noted.  Weed pressure remains high with sheep sorrel and hawkweed being well established throughout all growing regions.  Cut-backs in production inputs during the spring of 2010 have resulted in problems for a few growers who anticipated lower 2010 field prices at that time.  Some herbicide damage has been reported in low-lying areas.  With blueberry land continuing to mature, PEI expects to match its all-time crop record of 12 million pounds in 2011.

Wild Blueberries:  Total wild crop is estimated below average at about 189 million pounds.

Crop Situations in Other Areas

Cultivated Blueberries – Total cultivated production is estimated at about 500 million pounds, which is below the 540 million pounds produced last year. About 70% will be sold fresh and 30% processed as an effort is continuing to be made to market more of the crop as fresh.

Michigan/Indiana – The crop is estimated at 75 million pounds which is much less than last year’s 118 million pounds with about half sold fresh and the remainder frozen.

Northeast (New Jersey, NY, ON) – Estimated crop for the Northeast is 63 million pounds.

Pacific Northwest (WA,OR, BC, CA) – Estimate a good crop with 233 million pounds with BC estimating a bumper crop of 100 million pounds.

Southern States (NC, GA, AR, FL, MS, AL) – Florida produced a large crop at 22 million pounds that went all to fresh and NC had 41 million pounds. The total estimate for the South is 129 million pounds with 99 fresh and 30 processed.

NORTH AMERICAN BLUEBERRY PRODUCTION
IN MILLIONS OF POUNDS 2006-2010
CULTIVATED HIGHBUSH
REGION 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 5-YR AVG
Midwest
Michigan, IL, IN, other 86.4 94.4 113.8 106.2 118.6 103.9
Northeast
New Jersey 52 54 59 53 49 53.4
NY an others 2.2 2.5 2.5 4.6 2.3 2.8
West
British Columbia 63 70 70 89 90 76.4
OR, WA, CA 64.6 91.9 89.1 109 120.8 95.1
South
North Carolina 25.5 14.5 28.5 34.1 39.1 28.3
AR,FL,GA,AL,MS 45.4 26.7 56 85 120.1 66.6
Total Cultivated 339.1 354.0 418.9 480.9 539.9 426.6
WILD LOWBUSH
Maine 74.6 76.5 90 88.5 83 82.5
Quebec 69.2 44 72 70 15 54
Maritime Provinces
Nova Scotia 30.6 26.4 41.5 24 33.2 31.1
New Brunswick 20.4 26.1 33.6 33 33.4 29.3
Newfoundland 1 0.5 0.6 0.5 0.5 0.6
Prince Edward Island 8.4 8.3 9.8 10.3 12.4 9.8
Total Wild 204.2 181.8 247.5 226.3 177.5 207.3
TOTAL COMBINED PRODUCTION
Cultivated and Wild 543.2 535.8 666.4 707.2 717.4 634.0

Sincerely,

Dave
David E. Yarborough
Extension Blueberry Specialist
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.

©2011

Published and distributed in furtherance of Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914, by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the Land Grant University of the state of Maine and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Cooperative Extension and other agencies of the U.S.D.A. provide equal opportunities in programs and employment.

Call 800-287-0274 or TDD 800-287-8957 (in Maine), or 207-581-3188, for information on publications and program offerings from University of Maine Cooperative Extension, or visit extension.umaine.edu.

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