BlueFocus Newsletter- July 2022

Friday, July 29, 2022


BLUE FOCUS NEWSLETTER- July 2022

(Perennia’s Wild Blueberry Newsletter)

 

Dear Growers,

July is a busy and exciting month for the industry. While we are waiting for harvesting season to start, field days in different productions brought growers and industry partners together and reconnected. I attended field days in Maine, NS and NB and the overall feedback on this year’s production is good with decent yield potential prediction. The heat wave and high temperatures in the province promote good crop development but we are approaching dry conditions and adequate moisture is needed for sizing berries.  

I hope everyone has a great harvesting season!

 



Hugh Lyu

Wild Blueberry Specialist, Perennia

hlyu@perennia.ca; 902-890-0472.

July 29, 2022

 

 

Table of Contents: 

NS Wild Blueberry Growing Degree Days Update

Wild Blueberry Industry Updates

Upcoming Management Recommendations

Government Programs

Upcoming Events and Courses

2022 Wild Blueberry Field Days Highlights

 

NS Wild Blueberry Growing Degree Days Update

 

Please see the below graph for the most updated accumulation of GDD information from weather stations in wild blueberry fields (Figure 1. GDD- July 28, 2022). The average accumulation GDD (since April 1) from 22 stations was 1493 on July 28. Under the wild blueberry GDD model, we are at 90% tip dieback stage (GDD- 1475) in sprout fields. We don’t have GDD information for mature fruits and harvesting schedules under the model, but based on other regions’ models and field observations, we are about 1.5-2 weeks away from harvesting. Some receiving stations are scheduled to open in the second week of August.

Figure 1. GDD- July 28, 2022

 

 

Wild Blueberry Industry Updates

 

The growing conditions for all wild blueberry production regions are decent this year.

In Nova Scotia, we didn’t get significant winter damage and spring frost events. The warm dry spring also resulted in very low disease this season. We had early bloom with some good pollination weather in many areas. However, there was a cool and windy period in the middle of bloom which could impact pollination efficiency in the impacted regions. Weed pressures are another yield reduction factor for our crop. As we are approaching harvesting and experiencing this heat wave across the province, adequate moisture is critical for our crop. Currently, the industry is predicting 50 million lbs for Nova Scotia.

Other regions also have good production and the dryness is one of the things concerning other regions as well, especially in Maine.

Yield potential prediction:

Nova Scotia: 50 million lbs (2021: 49.5 million lbs)

Maine: 90 million lbs (2021: 103.8 million lbs)

Quebec: 80 million lbs (2021: 36.3 million lbs)

New Brunswick: 55 million lbs (2021: 55.8 million lbs)

PEI: 20 million lbs (2021: 19.5 million lbs)

 

Upcoming Management Recommendations

 

Crop fields:

1.     Insects, trapping for SWD and Blueberry Maggot:

I haven’t heard reports about SWD and blueberry maggots in the northern regions/fields, but in the Annapolis Valley area, they are seeing both SWD and blueberry maggots.

 

 

  • For blueberry maggot: Yellow rectangles coated with sticky material and an attractive bait are used for monitoring the blueberry maggot. When the first capture is found, it is better to give a few days for more adults to emerge.

 

Please remember to check products’ pre-harvest interval and check with your processor before you apply products in fields.

 

Sprout fields:

1.     Leaf rust control in sprout fields: the goal of applying fungicides this time of the year in sprout fields is to keep the leaves on blueberry plants as soon as they can in the fall. This would help to keep plants healthy and for better fruit buds.

 

2.     Leaf tissue and soil sampling: if growers want to collect tissue and samples for analysis, it is a good time to do that now (tip-dieback stage). Here are two resources to help with sampling and interpretation of the reports:

 

a.     Soil and leaf sampling in wild blueberry production: https://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/10/pdf/Agriculture/WildBlueberries-BleuetsSauvages/D10E.pdf.

b.     Nova Scotia Wild Blueberry Leaf Nutrient Ranges: https://www.perennia.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/wbb-leaf-nutrient-ranges.pdf.

 

3.     Red leaf disease: we are seeing more red leaf disease in both sprout and crop fields. In crop fields, this disease will cause early leaves and fruit drops. There are no control products for this disease. We ask growers to avoid spreading spores (white patches on the underside of infected leaves) by not walking through the diseased area.

Figure 2. Red leaf

 

Government Programs

 

NSDA- Blueberry Pollination Expansion Program

The Blueberry Pollination Expansion Program helps Nova Scotia beekeepers to expand their operations and increase the number of honeybee hives available for blueberry pollination in the province.

Details and application of the program: https://novascotia.ca/programs/Blueberry-Pollination-Expansion/. Application deadline: August 31, 2022.

 

NSDA- Food and Beverage Business Accelerator Program

The Food and Beverage Business Accelerator Program provides support for Nova Scotian food and beverage producers to access services provided by Perennia. Perennia's services can help food and beverage producers to improve their skills, access new markets, launch new products and develop new ideas for by-products.

Details and application of the program: https://novascotia.ca/programs/Food-Beverage-Business-Accelerator-Program/. Application deadline: November 30, 2022.

 

Upcoming Events and Courses

 

Please check out the event page under the wild blueberry blog for more details. http://www.novascotiawildblueberryblog.com/p/events.html

 

University of Maine: Wild Blueberry Production: A Five Week Course for Beginning Farmers

This course is an introduction to growing wild blueberries in Maine. The course covers field selection, agronomics, integrated pest management, pollinators, climate change challenges, economics, and an introduction to how this industry functions. The course includes one field trip during class time to observe an established blueberry field. This class is open to current students, and beginning and established farmers.

To register for the course, please visit: https://extension.umaine.edu/register/product/wild-blueberry-production-short-course-2022/

 

 

2022 Wild Blueberry Field Days Highlights

 

This year, most productions hosted their in-person field days in mid-July. I didn’t go to the one in Quebec but I was able to make it to Maine, NS and NB’s field days. Here are some photos from field days. Thank you for attending WBPANS’ field days in East River Saint Marys!


Maine Wild Blueberry Field Day- Jonesboro, July 14, 2022





Open-top chambers for wild blueberry research



Grasshopper Harvester demo- Pictou County Berry Ltd.


Biochar-compost Demo

 

 

WBPANS Wild Blueberry Field Day- East River Saint Marys, July 19, 2022


Perennia Group

 

New electrical weeder (Weed Zapper) Demo


Drs. Scott White and Travis Esau, introduce Weed Zapper and weed management


New Brunswick Wild Blueberry Field Day- Aulac, July 21, 2022









Have a great long weekend! 
Hugh

BlueFocus Newsletter- June 2022

Tuesday, June 14, 2022


 

BLUE FOCUS NEWSLETTER- June 2022

(Perennia’s Wild Blueberry Newsletter)

Dear Growers,

I hope all of you have had a great season so far. In this month’s newsletter, I will share updates from NS, and other production regions (Maine, QC, NB and PEI). We have a few field days coming up in July, so please remember to check out our event page.  

 

Hugh Lyu

Wild Blueberry Specialist, Perennia

hlyu@perennia.ca; 902-890-0472.

June 14, 2022



Table of Contents:  

Nova Scotia and Other Production Regions’ Updates

Upcoming Management Recommendations

Weather Station Apps and Website Training Session- Recorded Video Available

WBPANS 2022 Twilight Meetings Highlights

Upcoming Events

 

Nova Scotia and Other Production Regions Updates

 

NS Wild Blueberry Growing Degree Days and Crop Updates

 

Figure 1. Wild Blueberry GDD Summary- June 13, 2022

 

The average of GDD accumulations from all stations was 659 (as of June 13). We have many different production regions in the province with different crop stages, but in general, we are looking at plant emergence in sprout fields reaching 90% and the tip dieback stage is about to start. Most early and middle fields are looking to the end of pollination, and in areas like Advocate and Cape Breton, fields are still in the early to the mid-bloom stage.

Overall, this growing season has been going well with great yield potential if things stay adequately.

To this point, here are a few summary points about pests according to personal observation and communication with growers:

1.     Low monilinia infection due to dryness during susceptible crop stages (F2 to before bloom).

2.     We observed early development and noticed more red (sheep) sorrels this spring.

3.     I noticed more and fast development on grasses, such as poverty oat grass, common vetch, colonial bentgrass, witch grass and woolly panican grass. Last but not least, hair fescue.

4.     Broadleaf weeds: spreading dogbane, goldenrods, and hawkweed.

5.     We had some good pollination days in the last few weeks.

6.     2 major frosts in the mainland area didn’t cause significant damage to flowers across the province.

 

I also received updates from other regions’ specialists, here is the summary:

 

Maine:

Last year's bud set was good due to rain in July and dry, sunny conditions otherwise. They had a very warm fall and didn't see a frost until October which is late for them. They've had a good bloom and pollination weather so far. Peak bloom was over. They have the usual amount of mummy berry, blueberry flea beetle and span worm. Spanworm seems to have enjoyed the warm fall conditions with more life cycles last season than is typical. 

QC:

No winter damage was observed in the spring. They are in middle bloom now. Similar to us, their frost events didn’t cause significant damage.

Quebec growers are experiencing a beehives shortage. On the fortune side, there was a good dispensability of bumble bees.

NB:

In the most region, there was little winter damage, observed.  Fields' growth stage is within a few days from the previous years.  Early spring weather made it seem like the crop was advanced, but things are returning to average dates.

Honey bees – There have been mixed reports of losses, a few medium operations had significant losses, but most larger commercial operations have losses similar to the previous year (ranging from 10-20%).  As the many blueberry growers depend on honey bees from Ontario, beehive availability is an important factor for NB’s crop yield in 2022.

Many growers in Northeastern NB also depend on the Alfalfa Leafcutter bee for pollination, and demand is staying stable or increasing.  As well, more growers ordered commercial bumble bee quads, as part of their pollination strategy. It is early to tell, but fruit bud numbers look good. 

PEI:

The sprout fields last year set floral buds well due to the favourable weather and the winter weather was generally favourable as well (above average snowfall).

The Spring Monilinia season was not severe due to bouts of dry weather during the susceptibility period. There is a lack of honey bee hives on PEI this year which will hinder the crop’s yield potential.

 

Upcoming Management Recommendations

 

Sprout-year Fields:

·       Weed management: pull or cut weeds above the blueberry canopy before they go to seed or cut weeds to the base. If needed, apply selective post-emergent herbicide, such as Callisto 480 SC

·       When wild blueberry plants' growth stage reaches tip-dieback (black top on the top of plants), consider leaf tissue samples for nutrient analysis and take soil samples for pH analysis.

·       Leaf diseases control: apply fungicides for leaf diseases control, especially if high levels of leaf loss have occurred in the past

 

Crop-year Fields:

·       Weed management: pull or cut weeds above the blueberry canopy, especially in areas weeds are too tall that might hinder harvester operation

·       Insect management: preparing monitoring traps and monitoring for SWD and blueberry maggot

 

Weather Station Apps and Website Training Session- Recorded Video Available

 

The webinar recording for the Weather Station Apps and Website Training Session is now available on the Perennia YouTube channel.

You can find the link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ujYsZ88kAk

 

WBPANS 2022 Twilight Meetings Highlights

 

This year, WBPANS organized two twilight meetings on May 31 and June 7. Here are some highlights from both meetings.

On May 31, the first meeting was held in Debert. Dr. David Percival and his group presented three topics:

1.     Improving agrochemical delivery efficiency and deriving canopy characteristics by use of UAV and remote sensing technology, by Joel Langdon

2.     Selective agrochemical and nutrient application to reduce production costs, by Daniel Mahoney

3.     Assessing fungicide efficacy for improved management of the wild blueberry foliar disease complex, by Alex Cornel

 

Figure 2. Joel Langdon introduced UAV and remote sensing technology

 

Figure 3. Daniel Mahoney talked about new sprayer technology

 

On June 7, the association and Perennia organized and presented the second twilight meeting in Parrsboro. We had a great turnout at the meeting.

Perennia’s Agri-technology Specialist, Thomas Harrington gave a detailed introduction to the Weather Station Program and a few data use examples. Wild Blueberry Specialist, Hugh Lyu, also talked about a few great ways to utilize the program and collected data to guide this season’s production and management.  

 

 

Figure 4. Thomas presented on the weather station program

 

 

Figure 5.  Peter Burgess (Executive Director, WBPANS) and growers

 

Upcoming Events

 

Please check out the event page under the wild blueberry blog for more details. http://www.novascotiawildblueberryblog.com/p/events.html

 

We have a couple of wild blueberry field days coming up in different regions in July. I only showed as many details as I know about those field days in this newsletter, so please check with each region for more details.

 

·       Perennia tailgate meeting- Compost and Cover Crops, July 11, 1-3 pm

Location: Soil Mates Farm, 297 Farmington Rd, Barss Corner, NS

More details and registration: https://www.perennia.ca/eventer/compost-and-cover-crops/edate/2022-07-11/

 

·       Maine Blueberry Hill Farm Field Day, July 14

Location: Blueberry Hill Farm, 1643 Rt 1, Jonesboro, ME

This year’s big field day will feature a morning of IPM with UMaine researchers, burgers on the grill for lunch, followed by an exciting afternoon with the following sessions: Improved Harvesters, Fresh Pack Technology, Drought Management, and Commission Updates.

More details and registration: https://extension.umaine.edu/register/product/blueberry-hill-farm-field-day-2/

 

·       Quebec Field Day, July 14, Normandin, Quebec

 

·       WBPANS Field Day, July 19

Location: 581 West Side Road, East River Saint Mary’s, NS

Pre-registration is required! Please contact the WBPANS office to register before July 7,

2022 by phone: 902-662-3306 or email: info@nswildblueberries.com.

 

·       Bleuets NB Blueberries (BNBB) Field Day, July 21, Aulac, NB

2022 Updates and Seasonal Outlook for NS_ June 10

Friday, June 10, 2022

2022 Updates and Seasonal Outlook for NS_ June 10

 

2022 Degree Day Accumulations and Crop Update

Table 1.0 Degree day accumulations as of June 6, 2022.  All data are taken from the Kentville weather station, based on a start date of March 1, and calculated using the single sine method.


Category

2019

2020

2021

2022

5 year average

10 year average

Plant development (Base 5ºC)

277.5

313.6

416.4

383.1

342.9

360.2

Insect development (Base 10º)

86.7

137.8

184.4

160.8

141.3

155.4









Here is a summary of 2022-degree day accumulations from the Kentville weather station. This summary gives us an idea of where we are at in terms of this season’s growth and development. In NS, we are above both 5-year and 10-year averages (383.1 GDD vs 342.9 GDD and 360.2 GDD). 

Here is another GDD accumulations update from wild blueberry weather stations:

Figure 1. Wild Blueberry GDD Summary- June 9, 2022

The average of GDD accumulations from all stations was 591. As we have many different growing regions with different development stages in the province, it is hard and unrealistic to give a solid statement about the whole province’s crop development. However, in general, we are looking at more than 50% to 90% plant emergence in sprout fields in NS. In fruit fields, we are at 90% open flowers, with some early to middle fields getting to more than 50% petal fall (pin head). Even late fields, such as Advocate and Cape Breton Island, fields are in the early to middle flowering stages.

As I mentioned in the last update, we observed low diseases infection for this season due to the dryness of the weather.

 

Weed Management in Sprout Fields and Use of Callisto 480 SC (mesotrione)

During this time of the year, activities can be and should be done in sprout fields including weed management. Growers can pull or cut weeds above the blueberry canopy before they go to seed or cut weeds to the base. If it is necessary, some selective post-emergent herbicides, such as Callisto 480 SC (mesotrione) can be used to control a wide range of broadleaf weeds.

Here is a little bit of information about using Callisto to achieve effective weed management.

Blueberry growers have observed more crop injury when applications are made under hot and/or humid conditions or when the crop is stressed from flooding. The injury is most visible where excessive rates have been applied, such as sprayer overlaps. If heavy rain is expected within 48 hours, an application should be delayed. For improved crop safety, make applications under cooler conditions (early morning or evening) or when daytime temperatures are below 21 °C.

 

Pollination and Determining Percent Fruit Set in Wild BLueebrry Fields

In general, genetic factors of wild blueberry plants play a critical part in affecting pollination, other factors also contribute to and influence the overall pollination rate. Those factors include weather, plant vigour, distribution of clones and the population of pollinating insects. Because there are so many factors to affect pollination, it is not realistic to achieve a high % fruit set of 75 to 100%.

In general, pollination rates of 40 to 50% are considered very good, while 50 to 60% would be considered excellent. If the rate is below 30%, this shows the pollination force is too low.

Growers will get the benefits to understand and know how to determine the % fruit set. When growers know their % fruit set, they will be in a better position to understand their field and productivity, as well as help them to improve their production practices.

There is a great factsheet from the Department of Agriculture in NB that talks about determining % the fruit set in wild blueberry fields. Here is the link to this factsheet, but you can read the information below to get quick access to this information. https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/10/agriculture/content/crops/wild_blueberries/determining_percent_fruit_set.html

 

 

Information from the factsheet:

When you sample a field, you should sample ALL the field. Since conditions may vary from field edges to field centres, you will need to sample both types of areas unless you are trying to compare them. If you sample a big area, then you will need to take more samples. Fifty to one hundred samples seem to be adequate for a twenty acre field.

Walking your field during early to mid-bloom, you will take RANDOM samples by crossing the field back and forth in the shape of a "W", as you would for soil sampling. At each one of the sites at which you stop, you should sample in the following fashion:

  1. You will be following the progress of one stem at each sample site. At each site, drop a pen or a similar small object and sample the stem which is located closest to where the object falls. This will keep your sampling random. You can identify the stem by tying a piece of coloured synthetic string loosely to the stem, below the flower stalk (known botanically as a raceme). Place a brightly colored flag right next to it, so that you can locate the general location of your sample stem. Identify the sample number with indelible ink on the flag, and record this number and the information described below in a log book.

Figure 2. An example of tagging and flagging study stems

 

When sampling at early to mid-bloom, you would be counting and recording the TOTAL NUMBER OF FLOWER STRUCTURES which are found on the sample stem (this includes unopened blossoms, open blossoms, and blossoms which have lost their petals).

  1. Prior to harvest just when most of the fruits have turned blue, return to the same sample and count the TOTAL NUMBER OF BERRIES which will produce a harvestable fruit. Do not include the "pinheads" (those fruits which have larger crowns than berries).

  2. Use the information from (1) and (2) to determine the percent fruit set for the sample site, and then combine the information to learn the average percent fruit set for the field.

Here is an example:

  • From section 1. The TOTAL NUMBER OF FLOWERS e.g., 70 unopened buds, open flowers, flowers without petals
  • From Section 2. The TOTAL NUMBER OF BERRIES e.g., 35 harvestable berries
  • PERCENT FRUIT SET = (35 / 70) x 100 = 50%

To calculate the percent fruit set for the field, add all the sampling sites and divide by the number of sites. If the differences between the sampling sites are very big, you might consider taking more samples next year OR you might try and figure out why. Some growers claim to get up to 70% fruit set; so if your figures are really low, you know that the top priority for managing that field is bees.

You can also use this method to calculate differences between your fields or differences that you might have from using or not using hives.

 

 

I will issue June’s Perennia Wild Blueberry Newsletter (BlueFocus) early next week. Stay tuned for the issue. We have some updates to share!

Have a great weekend!

Hugh