Summer Issue, 2006
Summer Issue, 2006
Editor: Jeff Williamson
Officers : Donna Miller (president), Tom Cobb (vice president), Joe Keel (past president), Sheri Brothers (secretary and
treasurer), Jeff Williamson (educational program director and newsletter editor).
Board of Directors: Jerry Mixon, Jr., Jack Green, Bill Braswell, Alto Straughn 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..
Message From Our President
Summer is here and the harvest is over.
I want to thank the Demke's for providing the FBGA with such a nice venue for our Spring Meeting and Field Day. The
226 attendees far exceeded our expectations and may be a clear indication of the growth that the Florida blueberry
industry can expect in the near future.
Editor- Jeff Williamson
Board of Directors
University of Florida
We want Joe Keel to know how much we appreciate the time and energy he gave to the Florida Blueberry Growers
Association as the past president. He has left some big shoes to fill and we are glad he will be remaining on the Board
of Directors. The best kept secret of all the past presidents of the FBGA is the time and energy each of them has given
to this Association.
The 2006 Florida blueberry harvest was the largest we have experienced with the USDA, Agricultural Marketing
Service reporting 6,253,500 lbs. vs. 3,960,000 lbs. for last year.
Your Board of Directors met on June 20th to discuss the following agenda items:
Research grant requests
Web page advertising
Ideas for increasing revenues
FBGA Membership The number of regular members is 175. The number with membership dues that are current =
86; Those with dues that are delinquent = 89.
Review FBGA By- Laws and purpose.
Fall meeting topics and location.
Writing letters to our senators and congressman concerning immigration legislation
Can anything be done about imported blueberries during the US window?
Does the Association need an employee? Executive director or lobbyist.
Are there other organizations that could provide these services?
Florida growers and brokers What happened? Why the decrease in revenue?
Your Board Members use 6 of the 11 Brokers marketing Florida blueberries. The following is their general consensus
on the last agenda item: One year doesn't represent a tract record
1. The number of brokers marketing Florida blueberries increased from 5 to 11 this year. Some brokers may have
less experience than others.
2. Increase in fruit volume.
3. Fruit available from foreign markets.
4. The season was condensed. North Florida came into the market early.
5. Acreage has increased.
I urge you to write your Congressman and Senators concerning your labor needs and concerns as it relates to the
Immigration Policy. Your calls and letters can be more effective than lobbyists.
The program for our fall meeting will be in the next issue of Blueberry News I look forward to seeing you at our next
Donna Miller, FBGA President
FBGA Membership Dues
The beginning of each calendar year is also the beginning of the FBGA membership year. Many of our members are not
up-to-date on their membership dues. Please look at the address label on this newsletter. If the year in parenthesis by
your name is 2005, or less, then you need to renew your membership if you want to continue receiving the newsletter,
notifications of meetings, and other correspondence from FBGA. If your membership is not current, we have included a
self-addressed envelop and an invoice statement. Please remit payment using the enclosed, self-addressed, envelop to
maintain your active status. For information on how to calculate your dues, please refer to the invoice, or to the back of
this newsletter. Your membership and participation in our activities is highly valued and appreciated!
Message From Your USHBC Representative
Hello To My Fellow Growers:
As your southern US representative on the United States Highbush Blueberry Council I want to remind you of the up
coming vote on whether to continue USHBC. You will receive a ballot shortly in the mail. As an insider now working
intimately with the council I can more clearly see the impact of what we're doing. The USHBC has done everything in
its power to promote our industry world wide and in my opinion has done an outstanding job. With our high prices
compared to the rest of the year, we are getting a tremendous value for the money we pay in as Florida growers.
If you are receiving USHBC material, you have or will soon receive a ballet for elections of some offices. In particular
the one I hold now. I have enjoyed my position there for the last 3 years and I have done what I can to promote not only
blueberries in general but also our window of opportunity and I would like to continue this for the next 3 years.
Whether I receive your vote or not is not really as important as you voting on this program.
Now, after ending a very unique season I feel compelled to voice my assessment of the events and dynamics affecting
this year. Those of you who know me know that I tell it as I see it and have no hidden agenda relating to this editorial.
My soul purpose is to keep this industry moving in the right direction during this period of rapid growth. During the
harvest season I heard the same complaints you heard and observed all the finger pointing and, although I will point no
fingers myself, I want to give my views of the factors that contributed to this year's chaos.
First and least controllable was the weather. North Florida and South Georgia ripened much earlier than normal due to a
very warm spring and infringed on the Central and South Florida production window. Although somewhat anticipated I
don't think any marketer was prepared for the avalanche of fruit that started in mid April. This affected the Southern
growers' prices the most.
The next factor was increased volume over all. New acres are coming on line every year and we better get used to it and
prepare for it, because 20 to 30% yearly increases are coming.
Next when the supply took a giant leap many major retail outlets of our fruit resisted dropping their retail price so
consumption did not keep pace with increase supply. Inventory built rapidly and unprepared brokers were forced to
dump fruit at lower prices to clear coolers.
If all of this wasn't enough, Chile held onto massive amounts of CA berries and unloaded them near Easter time and
some of the berry brokers that were selling our fruit also moved this inferior product in direct competition with us. If
you don't think Chile is in our face to stay, think again. They are working on late-ripening northern highbush varieties
that will be fresh picked and shipped in March and April, watch for it.
Lastly, I believe the biggest influence and the most controllable was the number of people selling fruit in our window. I
understand that competition is healthy and we do indeed need multiple marketers in our window but too many people in
this window who have only small amounts of fruit is destabilizing and detrimental to our prices.
Production records show that during Chile 's window prices can be maintained at certain volumes, why? There are
fewer marketers at that time and increase volumes grew slower than our onslaught in April. Marketers and buyers had
time to adjust prices and distribute volume without destabilizing the market. Florida had nearly a dozen voices selling
fruit in April and all it took was 1 or 2 of them to panic with a cooler of fruit and start throwing out lower prices. Even
though in no way could they supply the existing demand, buyers use this as a tool to pressure other markets to drop the
price. It's an easy out for the inexperienced or non-caring broker and it is also an impossible task for a grower to
document this activity except by one method, price comparison. Most years a price comparison sheet is compiled and
circulated among the Florida growers. I personally have not seen a sheet this year and I will not circulate a sheet like
this but I'm sure I will see one in the coming months. It won't have all the marketers but it always has enough to show
the trend. Obviously not all brokers can be on top every week but if your returns were consistently lower week after
week then you can bet your last blueberry that instead of trying to expand their market and hold a firm price they took
the path of least resistance and simply started shouting lower prices. I am not naive and understand that simple supply
and demand economics play a large roll in all this but there are brokers that are riding the coattails of legitimate
marketers that work hard for their growers and need to be eliminated and this can only be done by growers cutting off
their supply. All growers need to ask their marketers some hard, direct, questions.
1.) What are you doing to expand your market and client base?
2). Are you exporting any blueberries into new or existing markets?
3). Did you receive and sell any Chilean product after April 1 st ?
4). Are you willing to give that up?
5). Are you demanding and insuring accurate daily estimates from all your growers?
Accurate daily and weekly estimates are very important. Each broker needs this information and it is the grower's
responsibility to provide it so that your marketer has the input he needs to develop a strong marketing strategy.
We growers need to ask these questions and align ourselves with reputable marketers that are working hard to expand
our markets. I believe we now have some wildcatters trying to make money on this great Florida window without
regard to our future and they have no place here.
Increase volume in Florida is inevitable and so are decreasing prices in the coming years and we all need to work hard
to make our farms more efficient. The smaller grower should be the most concerned, large growers like myself will
survive this marketing evolution through larger volumes at smaller margins.
If I stepped on any toes tough! If you are a hard working legitimate marketer I think you will agree with most of my
points. I know the vast majority of us growers and marketers in this business are dedicated to moving this industry
forward the right way and I applaud all those people.
Remember that this is strictly an opinion and editorial and by no way am I representing the FBGA or anyone else
except those growers that want to perpetuate this profitable business we've grown to love.
The take home message is vote.
South East Rep. USHBC
Berry Pathology Update
Phil Harmon, Plant Pathologist
This year's dry spring has meant fewer disease samples and reports in general. I have received a handful of samples
from the central and south-central Florida berry production areas-all with similar symptoms. In general plants are less
than 1.5 years old. Symptoms set in rapidly and include browning or reddening of leaves and rapid plant death. The
samples I have processed to date (one from area code 863 is still being processed) have all resulted in isolations of
Phytophthora cinnamomi and usually a weak stem canker or stem blight pathogen(s) such as: Cylindrocladium ,
Botryodiplodia or Botryosphaeria Symptoms differ from last year's deaths due to stem blight, because the crown has
a mushy brown rot and lacks the well-defined canker with dark brown discoloration associated with Botryosphaeria
The occurrence of root rot in a dry spring sounds counterintuitive, because root rot is favored by wet conditions and
poorly drained soils. However, this disease does compromise roots and the ability of affected plants to take up water
efficiently, so death of plants with root rot is not unusual during drought stress even though new infections are unlikely.
Recommendations: It is a good idea to monitor irrigation closely. Frequent swings between waterlogged and dry
growing media are the environmental trigger we use in our Phytophthora inoculation trials to induce disease and death
of susceptible plants. Fungicides are best used to prevent infections from occurring. Infection is still favored by the
rainy summer season, and rotating fungicide products labeled for Phytophthora during this period is recommended
where Phytophthora root rot is likely to occur or has been a problem in the past. With judicious use of fungicides,
careful irrigation management, and proper field or container drainage considerations, growers have been able to keep
losses due to root rot on our southern highbush blueberry manageable.
Blueberry Cultivar Update.
Paul Lyrene and Jeff Williamson
While Emerald, Jewel and Star are currently the three most widely-grown southern highbush cultivars in Florida, there
are others, some of which are very new, that are being grown to a lesser extent around the state. Three cultivars;
Primadonna, Springwide and Abundance are described below. In future newsletters, other lesser-grown cultivars will be
Primadonna has been tested for many years in areas from central Florida to southeast Georgia. The main observation
site is in Windsor, Fla. Primadonna makes a vigorous, upright bush that is easy to propagate by softwood cuttings. It
produces enough sprouts from the base to renew the bush but is not a prolific sprouter. Average date of 50% open
flower for Primadonna at Windsor has been about Feb. 16, the same as for Springhigh, Emerald, and Abundance and
compares with Feb. 19 for Jewel, Feb. 25 for Star, and Feb. 29 for' Windsor'. Primadonna tends to be more evergreen
than Star and Jewel, possibly because it has higher resistance to leaf rust. It makes a medium to high number of flower
buds. Primadonna tends to flower before it makes new leaves in February and March. This can be a serious problem, in
that Primadonna sometimes does not produce enough early leaves to support development of the large, early, high-
quality berries it is capable of producing when there is a good balance of leaves and berries. Many Florida growers use
Dormex to promote early, strong leafing on Primadonna. If Dormex is applied, label directions should be followed
carefully, because Primadonna flower buds can be killed by Dormex. The date on which the first 50% of the berries of
Dormex-treated plants of Primadonna were ripe at Windsor averaged April 17 for the 5 years 2001 to 2005. This
compared to April 23 for Springhigh, April 29 for Star and Emerald, April 30 for Millennia and Jewel, and May 2 for'
Windsor '. The berries of Primadonna are large and have excellent scar and firmness. The berry picks and packs well
and the berries ripen during a concentrated harvest period. The berries are produced in an open cluster which makes
them easy to pick. They detach readily from the plant when ripe. Berry color and flavor are good. Primadonna is a very
early ripening highbush blueberry variety. It is capable of producing berries of high quality if the plants have enough
healthy new leaves before the berries ripen. Growers are advised that it has not been easy to get consistent yields of
high-quality early berries from Primadonna. Branches that leaf strongly at or near the time of flowering produce large,
high-quality, early berries. Berries from branches that leaf late and weakly tend to be small and later ripening. Dormex,
winter pruning, and other management practices will be needed at some locations to get good performance from
Springwide is a new low-chill southern highbush blueberry variety released by the University of Florida in 2006. It is
intended for early-season production of blueberries for the fresh market. Springwide is expected to be best adapted in
central Florida and in other very low-chill areas where early-season blueberries are produced. Springwide got its name
because it ripens early in the spring and has a somewhat spreading bush habit. Springwide is medium in vigor. Survival
and persistence of plants in the field has been good. The plant produces an abundance of new leaves early in the spring,
even after mild winters, and this is one of the main advantages of the variety. Date of 50% open flowers has averaged
about Feb. 20 at Windsor, Florida, about the same time as for Millennia, Emerald, and Jewel and a week earlier than
for Star. In north Florida, overhead irrigation is needed to protect the flowers and fruit from late winter freezes.
Springwide berries ripen early. During the 4-year period 1999 through 2002, Springwide averaged 50% ripe at Windsor
about 5 days before the average for Star, Windsor, Millennia, Emerald, and Jewel. It consistently ripened earlier than
all of these varieties. Berry size for Springwide is large about the same size as for Star. The berry has excellent scar,
firmness, and flavor. Berry color is medium, about like Sharpblue and Windsor. Yield of Springwide is expected to be
medium. The yield capacity is reduced somewhat because the plant is less vigorous than varieties such as Springhigh,
Emerald, Windsor, and Millennia. The berry clusters are somewhat tight and the force required to detach ripe berries is
above average. These factors may reduce the rate of hand harvest. Field plantings of Springwide appear to have medium
to good resistance to phytophthora root rot, cane canker, and stem blight. As with other southern highbush varieties,
several post-harvest foliar sprays with approved fungicides will be required to obtain maximum yields from
Springwide. As with other southern highbush, thrips can damage the flowers during flowering, and protective measures
may be required to avoid damage. The main advantages of Springwide appear to be its very low chill requirement,
excellent leafing early in the spring, and early ripening. Because Springwide is not as vigorous as some of the other
varieties that do well in north Florida, the variety may prove most useful in the central Florida peninsula where lack of
chilling can limit the productivity of other varieties.
Abundance is a new low-chill southern highbush blueberry variety recently released by the University of Florida. It is
intended for early-season production of blueberries for the fresh market. Abundance is expected to be best adapted in
central and north Florida and in other areas with mild winters where early-season blueberries are produced. Abundance
got its name because, under good growing conditions, it is capable of producing a very large crop. Abundance is a very
vigorous bush with an upright growth habit. The plants produce enough sprouts from the base to renew the bush, but
Abundance is not a heavy sprouter. The long-term persistence of the plants in the field is only medium. Various cane
diseases, such as stem blight (Botryosphaeria dothidia) can cause some plant losses in commercial fields. Abundance
produces a large number of flower buds in the fall, and it flowers heavily in the spring. The high vigor of the plant
allows it to produce and support a large crop of berries. Abundance flowers early in the spring. The mean date of 50%
open flower at Windsor, Florida, has averaged about Feb. 18, which is about the same time as for Millennia and
Emerald. The plant leafs strongly shortly after flowering, and this contributes to its ability to support a large crop. The
berries of Abundance start ripening at Windsor, Florida, about 3 days after Star. The 50% ripening date for Abundance
at Windsor is about May 1. Abundance berries are large, about the same size as Star, Emerald, and Jewel. The berries
have a medium blue color and good firmness and flavor. The picking scar is generally good, but some tears will occur
when over-ripe berries are picked. The fruit clusters are not tight but are not unusually open. Berries are easy to harvest
and hand picking rates are high. Abundance appears to have average or above-average resistance to phytophthora root
rot. Some 5-year-old plants have been lost to cane diseases, possibly stem blight (Botryosphaeria dothidea). Cane
canker (Botryosphaeria corticis) has not been seen on Abundance. Abundance has above-normal susceptibility to
blueberry bud mite. Although this is normally not a problem if plants are pruned annually, large commercial plantings
may require one or more post-harvest sprays to control the mites. As with other southern highbush varieties, several
post-harvest fungicide applications will probably be required to keep the leaves healthy until frost. The main advantages
of Abundance are its very high vigor and yield potential, its upright bush, and its excellent berry flavor. On the other
hand, Abundance does not ripen as early as some other varieties, has a slight tear at the picking scar on some berries,
and is somewhat susceptible to certain cane diseases and to blueberry bud mite. The plant produces an abundance of
new leaves in the early spring, which enables it to mature a very large crop. It regrows vigorously after post-harvest
hedging. Abundance flowers and leafs early and is expected to do well in both central and north Florida.
PROPAGATION RIGHTS AND NURSERY LICENSING: Blueberry varieties developed at the University of
Florida are patented, and a license is required for propagation. Anyone buying these plants should make sure that the
seller is a licensed propagator. Any violations should be reported to Florida Foundation Seed Producers, Inc.
Information on obtaining a license to propagate University of Florida blueberry varieties can be obtained from: Florida
Foundation Seed Producers, Inc., P.O. Box 309, Greenwood, FL 32443 Phone: 850-594-4721; FAX: 850-594-1068;
New Reference Book on Blueberries
Dr. Norman Childers, professor emeritus in the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida, recently
published a book entitled Blueberries: for Growers, Gardeners, Promoters It serves as a comprehensive reference
guide with contributing authors from throughout the world. It contains chapters on breeding, varieties, propagation,
nutrition, insect and disease management, harvesting and postharvest handling, just to name a few. There are also
overviews of blueberry industries in other countries including Poland Germany Spain Argentina, Chile and others.
The various blueberry production regions in the US are also described.
The book sells for $50 + $6 postage and handling.
Dr. Norman F. Childers
3906 N.W. 31 st Place
Gainesville, FL 32606
Ph: (888) 501-5653; (352) 372-5077
BLUEBERRY PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
A-1 plants! The Doc's Blueberry Nursery. Since 1988, quality Southern Highbush plants at competitive prices. Winter
Haven, Central Florida. (863)325-8215. Popular commercial varieties available as liners or 1 gal pots. Call Dave
Weber for price and availability. Lic No 47219637.
Blueberry Plants. High-quality, heavily-rooted, blueberry plants in one gallon containers. One or thousands, for price
and availability call 813-244-5877. Sun-Robin Horticulture 14923 CR39, Lithia. Lic. No. 47236647
Bob's Blueberry Farm and Nursery. West Pasco County. (727)863-4214 or toll free (888) 654-4214. Year around
plant sales, southern highbush blueberry plants, all sizes and varieties, over 40,000 on hand. Call for prices and
availability. Plan ahead, have the plants you need when you need them. Lic. no. 47227344.
D & J Blueberry Farm and Nursery Taking Orders Now for Rooted Cuttings and Groundbed Blueberry Plants.
PRIMADONNA, SPRINGHIGH, SPRINGWIDE, SNOW CHASER, EMERALD, JEWEL and STAR. Call or email
Donna for price list 352-637-0882 firstname.lastname@example.org
Elixson Wood Products, Inc. Pine bark shredded, nuggets, or fines available. Ph (904) 964-6649.
Far Reach Ranch Blueberry plants for sale. 30 miles North of Orlando. Jewel, Emerald, Star liners and 1 gal. Call
Jerry (352) 516-7428.
Honey Bees for Blueberry Pollination. We use the Buckfast strain, which pollinates at temperatures 20 cooler than
other strains. Bees guaranteed for strength. $20.00 per hive. Call Robbie Bell toll free (800) 822-1558; home (863) 285-
7785; mobile (863) 698-9525.
Island Grove Ag Products. Don't buy plants until you've talked with us. We have all varieties including new releases
from the University of Florida. We grow specifically for your needs. Lic. no. 47217870. Sheri Brothers at (352) 481-
5558 or email@example.com
Website islandgroveagproducts. com.
Jacto Sprayers/Henry Mitchem Equip. Save time and chemical costs with a Jacto Airblast Sprayer. Jacto is the
number one sprayer in the blueberry and nursery industries and has proven itself in helping productivity. For more
information or a demonstration, call Kenny Mitchem at (352) 787-4109, Leesburg FL.
Miller Blueberry Nursery. Rt. 3, Box 5700, Palatka, FL 32177, Telephone (386) 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 sell Bare Root or Rooted Cuttings
and we have the newest releases form the University of Florida Call Jerry Mixon (863) 439-8335 for price and
availability. License no. 472255191.
Row Mulcher for Rent $50 per day of use. Will deliver and pick-up on long rentals. D&J Blueberry Farm 352-637-
0882 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Ask for Don Goldberg or Donna Miller.
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.
Advertisements and claims therein to do not constitute an endorsement by the Florida Blueberry Growers' Association
or the University of Florida.
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 163
Island Grove FL 32654
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)
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