The Blueberry News
Official Newsletter of the Florida Blueberry Growers' Association
Spring Issue, 2000
Editor: Jeff Williamson
Officers: Jerry Mixon, Jr. (president), Dean Deihl (vice president), Sheri Brothers (secretary and treasurer), Jeff Williamson (educational program
director and newsletter editor).
Board of Directors: Jerry Mixon, Jr., Dean Deihl, Ken Patterson, Jimmy Miller, Gerald Mixon, Bob Payne, Steve Blount and Paul Lyrene.
Disclaimer: The information in this newsletter was selected with good intentions by the editor. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of
the editor, the Florida Blueberry Growers' Association or the Association Directors. The reader should not assume that the information
presented in the newsletter is being recommended for his or her farm. Especially where pesticides or growth regulators are mentioned, be
sure to follow their labels exactly. If you have comments, corrections, or suggestions regarding the newsletter, please write to the editor.
Spring Blueberry Field Day
Tuesday, March 14, 2000
Florida Farm Bureau Building
5700 SW 34th Street
8:30 a.m. Late Registration late registration is $20 per person. See enclosed pre-registration form for early
9:15 a.m. Welcome Mr. Pat Cockrell, director of agricultural policy, Florida Farm Bureau, Gainesville, Fla.
9:25 a.m. Overview of blueberry fruit growth and the effects of flower bud and fruit thinning on
fruit size Dr Rebecca Darnell, research horticulturist, Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida,
9:45 a.m. The Biology of thrips and gall midges on southern highbush blueberries and
implications for their control Dr. Blair Sampson, research entomologist, USDA-ARS, Small Fruit Research
Station, Poplarville, Miss.
10:20 a.m. Blueberry varieties for Florida and some thoughts on protecting your crop from
spring freezes Dr. Paul Lyrene, blueberry breeder, Horticultural Sciences Dept., University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.
10:40 a.m. Grower panel discussion of Dormex use on blueberries in Florida moderated by Dr. Jeff
Williamson, extension horticulturist, Horticultural Sciences Dept., University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.
11:00 a.m. FBGA business meeting presiding Mr. Jerry Mixon, Jr., FBGA president, Haines City, Fla.
11:15 a.m. Travel to Alto Straughns farm for lunch (Windsor, FL). Directions available at the meeting.
12:00 noon Catered lunch
1:00 p.m. Field tour of blueberries
Information about the field day
Registration Enclosed, please find a pre-registration and membership renewal form for the Spring Field Day. This
form must be returned postmarked by March 7 to guarantee your meal and to receive the early registration
rate of $10.00 per person for FBGA members and $20.00 per person for non-members. Note that FBGA
membership is on a per farm bases. Being a FBGA member allows you and any employee or family member associated with your blueberry
operation to attend FBGA meetings at the discounted membership rate. Your pre-registration includes the morning short course, lunch, and
an afternoon farm tour. Please note that the registration fee does not cover your FBGA dues. I encourage you to renew your membership
while preregistering for the field day.
Directions to the Farm Bureau Building in Gainesville Traveling north on 1-75, take the first Gainesville exit on the south
side of town (Williston Rd. or Hwy 121 exit). Go about 1,000 feet east toward Gainesville on Hwy 121 and turn south (right) on Hwy 23 (Rocky
Point Rd or S.W. 34th Street). The Farm Bureau building is less than 1 mile south on the right side of the road. Drive around to the opposite
side of the building which is the front of the building and faces 1-75. Park there and enter. If you are coming on Hwy 441, turn west on Williston
Rd. and go toward 1-75. Turn south on 34th Street (Rocky Point Rd.) Just before you get to 1-75.
A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
BRRR! Will it ever get warm again? I hope everyone one has made it through the winters far! Even though there have not been many major
cold events, it has been colder for longer than I can remember. Hopefully, if the remainder of the winter is mild, it appears Florida will have a
larger crop than last years.
Based on last year we still need to be on the lookout for thrips and gall midges. If you have questions or are not sure how to identify these
pests in your field, you will want to make sure you attend our next Field Day on March 14. We will be hearing talks on the life cycles of these
pest as well as visiting one of the local fields in an effort to identify the damage these pests can cause. During this time of year you should
also be setting out, or already have set out, your bees. Dont skimp on the bees! The cost of bees would be considered minimal if you can
increase the size of your berries by to gram per berry.
By now your marketers have been asking you to guestimate this years crop. As difficult as this task may seem, it is really important that we
attempt to give them information that is as accurate as possible. With the projected increase in production it will be the tendency of some to
get into a bind by having more fruit than they had anticipated or made plans for. This can cause some marketers to panic and prematurely
lower prices to clean out the cooler. Strive to provide accurate daily information to your marketer so they can make the most informed
decisions. Most of us, by now, have had the opportunity to pack in the 100-gram clamshell. If you are like my farm, you have seen the
increased returns this package has provided. I would strongly encourage all growers to express your desire, to your marketer, to remain in the
smallest clamshell possible for as long as possible.
Finally, the winter is not over. The possibility of a late February or early March cold event still exists. Be on your guard. A few nights
monitoring a field thermometer is not too high a price to pay for saving the crop that will sustain you until next year.
See you March 14,
Jerry Mixon, Jr.
EMERALD SOUTHERN HIGHBUSH BLUEBERRY
By Paul Lyrene, blueberry breeder
Emerald, a southern highbush blueberry variety, was released by the University of Florida in December, 1999. Emerald has not been tested
south of Gainesville, but because it had a much better crop than Sharpblue last spring after the unusually mild winter of 1998-99, it appears to
be low chilling, and shows promise of being adapted from Sebring north into southeastern Georgia. Persons who obtain a license to
propagate Emerald will be able to get a limited amount of softwood cuttings of Emerald after mid May 2000. If you will need cutting wood,
please contact Paul Lyrene at 352-392-4711 extension 307 or by e mail at: PML(d)GNV.IFAS.UFL.EDU
The following is a description of Emerald based on observations to date. Emerald is a new, low-chill, southern highbush blueberry being
released by the University of Florida. It is intended for early-season production of blueberries for the fresh market. Emerald is expected to be
best adapted in central and northern Florida, in the warmest parts of southeastern Georgia, and in the coastal zones of Alabama, Mississippi,
Louisiana, and southeast Texas. Emerald combines a vigorous, upright bush, with high yield potential, early ripening, and a large, high-quality
Origin: Emerald originated as a seedling from the cross FL91-69 x NC1528, which was made in the greenhouse of the University of Florida
in Gainesville in March 1991. Emerald was selected for further testing in May 1993 because of its early ripening, large fruit, and high fruit
quality. It was propagated by cuttings in May 1995, and 10 Emerald plants were planted in a test field near Gainesville in January 1996. One
thousand more Emerald plants were propagated in the summer of 1998, and were planted in Gainesville in December 1998. Based on the
performance of these test plots, Emerald was approved for release by the University of Florida Variety Release Committee after the 1999
Bush: Emerald is a vigorous bush with a growth habit midway between upright and spreading. It is similar in plant architecture to Sharpblue
and Star but is somewhat more vigorous. Emerald flowers open uniformly, and it produces abundant leaves even after mild winters in
Gainesville. Following the mild winters of 1997-98 and 1998-99 in Gainesville, both flower buds and leaf buds appeared to be as low or lower
in chilling requirement than Sharpblue. Autumn flower bud production is medium to heavy. Because the plant is highly vigorous when planted
on suitable soils, Emerald is capable of carrying heavy crops. Emerald normally reaches full bloom in Gainesville about February 15, and
overhead irrigation is needed to protect flowers and fruit from freezes in February and March. First harvest occurs a few days earlier for
Emerald than for Sharpblue and Star in Gainesville. About 80% of the fruit of Emerald is normally ripe between April 15 and May 10 in
Berry: Emerald produces large, firm berries with good picking scars and a sweet, subacid flavor. The first berries that ripened on well-
pruned, leafy bushes having a medium crop load averaged 2.9 g per berry in 1999. The first ripe Emerald berries are somewhat larger than
the first ripe berries on Sharpblue and ONeal and about the same size as berries on Star. Unlike Sharpblue berries, which become much
smaller in the second half of the harvest season, Emerald berries maintain good size throughout the harvest season if the bushes are well
cross-pollinated and not drought stressed. The color of Emerald berries is medium to dark blue, similar to Sharpblue and ONeal. The
persistence during handling of the natural wax which makes the fruit blue is also similar for the three varieties. Emerald is similar to Duke and
ONeal in berry shape, with the berries wider than they are tall. In 1999, large Emerald berries that weighed 2.9 g per berry were 18 mm
across and 13 mm high. Ripe berry clusters are not extremely tight nor extremely loose. There are normally 3 to 5 berries per cluster. Hand
harvest rates are medium to high for Emerald plants with a heavy crop. Hand-harvested berries have stored well for at least 2 weeks at 40
Plant health and Longevity: Many insects, mites, and diseases can attack blueberries in the southeastern U.S. Based on field and
greenhouse trials in Gainesville, Emerald appears to be average or above average in resistance to most of the common diseases. Plant
survival in field and greenhouse tests has been excellent. Phytophthora root rot, stem blight (Botryosphaeria dothidia) and cane
canker (Botryosphaeria corticis) have not been serious problems in Emerald test plots. In the fall of 1998, vigorous 2-year-old plants had
a large crop of fall berries that were killed by a December freeze. Some dieback occurred on the frozen terminals, but this was easily
controlled by pruning out affected branches during the winter. The plants were healthy and produced an excellent crop the following spring.
Bud mites have not been a problem in Emerald field plantings. Although Emerald appears to be above-average in resistance to insects and
diseases, a weekly scouting program and timely applications of insecticides and fungicides will be necessary to maximize yields in large
commercial plantings. Southern highbush blueberries should only be planted on well-drained, acidic, coarse-textured, sandy-organic soils.
Where soil drainage is not naturally excellent, blueberries should be planted on raised beds at least 18 inches high and 4 feet wide, with a
surface drainage pattern designed to remove water rapidly from the field during heavy rains.
Pollination requirements: Based on greenhouse pollination tests, Emerald appears to be about equal to Sharpblue in self-fruitfulness.
Yields may be reduced by 50% or more when Emerald is planted in pure stands. Berry set, berry size, and berry earliness all suffer when
cross pollination does not occur. The best varieties to plant for cross pollination of Emerald will vary with location and grower preference. Inter-
planting Emerald with at least 2 other lowchill highbush varieties having similar flowering dates is highly recommended. In north Florida,
varieties for cross pollinating Emerald could include Santa Fe, Star, Sapphire, Jewel, Misty, and Sharpblue. In the Sebring and Plant City
areas, Sapphire, Gulf Coast, and Sharpblue could be used to pollinate Emerald. In southeast Georgia, Star, Santa Fe, ONeal, Jewel and
Bluecrisp could be considered. Before planting, contact your county Agricultural extension office or Land Grant University to determine what
blueberry varieties are currently recommended for your area.
Propagation and nursery plants: Emerald plants propagate readily from leafy softwood cuttings taken in May or late August from
properly hardened new growth flushes. Rooting percentages have been about the same as for Sharpblue, Misty, and ONeal. Rooted cuttings
of Emerald grow rapidly and present no special problems in the nursery.
Propagation rights and licensing of propagators: Blueberry varieties developed at the University of Florida are patented by
Florida Foundation Seed Producers, Inc. in order to obtain money to continue the breeding program, and a license is required for their
propagation. Emerald plants may be purchased only from licensed nurseries. Growers wishing to propagate plants for their own use or for
sale are required to obtain a license. Information about obtaining a license to propagate Florida blueberry varieties is available from: Tom
Stadsklev, Florida Foundation Seed Producers, Inc., P.O. Box 309; Greenwood, FL 32443-0309. Phone: (850)- 594-4721. E-mail:
BLUEBERRY PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
Blueberry Hill Nursery. Come by and see our plants, potted rabbiteye and highbush. Were in Salt Springs. Call (352)685-2769 or (352)
622-9190. Lic. No. 47217069.
Call the Doc! Doc Applications, Inc. is booking orders for the fall 2000 and beyond. We grow the latest varieties including Gulfcoast,
Sharpblue, Sapphire, and Emerald bare root and in containers. Call Dave Weber (863)325-8212 for price and availability. Lic. no. 47219637.
Elixson Wood Products, Inc. Pine bark shredded, nuggets, or fines available. Ph (904)964-6649.
Island Grove Ag. Products. Dont buy plants until youve talked to us. We have all varieties including the new highbush releases from
U of F. We will grow specifically for your needs. Contact Sheri Brothers or Ken Patterson at berrygirl629(@aol.com or (352)481-5558. Lic. no.
Large quantity of blueberry plants. Gulfcoast and Sharpblue. Call for prices. (813) 754-3866.
Miller Blue Nursery. Rt. 3, Box 5700, Palatka, FL 32177, Telephone (904)325-7373. Let us supply your blueberry plants. All varieties.
All sizes. Bare root and potted. Please call for prices. Lic. no. 04720531.
Mixon Family Farm, Inc. We have excellent quality blueberry plants for sale. We have Misty as well as all the newest releases from the
University of Florida including Sapphire, Jewel, Star and Sante Fe. We will custom grow for your specific needs. Call Jerry Mixon (863)439-
8335 for price and availability. License no. 472255191
My Blue Heaven Blueberry Nursery. Southern highbush varieties. Centrally located in Dade City. Give us a call, were happy to
help. Lic. no. 47221916. Debra Troyer (352) 567-4256, 18414 Lawrence Rd., Dade City, FL 33523.
We welcome advertising from blueberry nurseries and suppliers. The cost is 30 cents per word per issue of the newsletter in which your
message appears. Send your blueberry-related message and a check payable to FLORIDA BLUEBERRY GROWERS'
ASSOCIATION to our address given below under membership information.
To join or renew your membership to the Florida Blueberry Growers Association, mail a check payable to FLORIDA BLUEBERRY
GROWERS ASSOCIATION to our address: Florida Blueberry Growers Association, P.O. Box 141733, Gainesville, FL 32614
The Association annual dues depend on which membership category you fit best.
1. Regular Florida Member $10.00 per acre of blueberries, except a minimum of $50.00 and a maximum of $200.00.
2. Out-of -state member $50.00
3. Associate member $100.00 (Equipment and chemical companies, etc.)
4. Educational and Research $10.00 (University and USDA personnel who do not grow blueberries commercially)