Last year we were involved with a small blueberry trial in Michigan, and saw good results. We had the largest yield increase of all the companies in the trail, plus a noticeable increase in berry firmness. This year, additional growers successfully used CalStore to achieve firmer berries. The comments we heard were quite encouraging.
This coming season we will be even more involved with blueberries as we begin a multi-year study comparing our blueberry program to a control area. We will monitor bush development, berry set (abortion), berry size, fruit firmness, and economics. We will also monitor fruit loss from spotted wing drosophlia (SWD).
There has been some research indicating that the female SWD prefers to lay her eggs in softer fruit. Increasing fruit firmness earlier in the season resulted in a reduction of fruit loss. There is no question we can provide a firmer berry.
We will also begin a multi-year project studying the growth characteristics of 24 to 26 new varieties of blueberries (many not even released yet) in order to make specific recommendations for each variety. It’s important to understand growth and fruiting characteristics of any specific variety. Once better understood, one can then enhance positive traits, and make better management decisions to cover weaknesses. (This is why we perform so many variety trials with tomatoes, peppers and other crops. Aside from the breeders themselves, we probably know the strengths and weaknesses of most commonly grown varieties better than anyone in the field).