2015 Mississippi Blueberry Education Workshop Presentations

Last week (February 12), MSU Extension, USDA-ARS, and the Gulf South Blueberry Growers’ Association co-hosted a blueberry education workshop for Mississippi blueberry growers.  The agenda was as listed below.  Click on the name of the presentation to see the PowerPoint as a PDF file.

Dr. Barakat Mahmoud (MSU-ES): Overview of the Revised FSMA Rule on Produce Safety Standards

Dr. Tim Rinehart (USDA-ARS, Poplarville): An Update on Rabbiteye Blueberry Genomics

Aaron Rodgers (Mississippi Dept. of Agriculture and Commerce): Mechanical Harvesters vs. Hand Labor: Examining the Economic Decision-making of Blueberry Harvests (PDF not available)

Dr. Eric Stafne (MSU-ES): Scale-neutral Harvest-aid System and Sensor Technologies to Improve Efficiency and Handling of Fresh-market Highbush Blueberries

Dr. Barbara Smith (USDA-ARS, Poplarville): Blueberry Disease Control Recommendations

Dr. John Adamczyk (USDA-ARS Poplarville): Pollinators and You in our Blueberries: Are We Taking It For Granted?

Dr. Blair Sampson (USDA-ARS, Poplarville): SWD in Mississippi Blueberries

Overall there were roughly 50 attendees.  Evaluation data indicated that the crowd was pleased with the topics.  Some even suggested topics for next time, which is always welcome.  Below are a couple photos of the event.

Dr. Mahmoud covering the upcoming FSMA regulations

Dr. Mahmoud covering the upcoming FSMA regulations

Dr. Rinehart covering an exciting new topic -- Rabbiteye genomics

Dr. Rinehart covering an exciting new topic — Rabbiteye genomics

If you were not able to attend this year’s event, please plan to make it next year.  It will likely be around the same time and place.  If you have any requests for topics or speaks please let me know and I will do all that I can to accommodate it.  Thanks for a great turnout!

I also “Live Tweeted” the workshop.  Those tweets generated 1015 impressions (how many people saw the tweet in their timeline) and 66 engagements (how many people clicked on the tweet).  That is a 6.5% engagement rate from those who did not even attend!

If you want to follow me on Twitter, my handle is @EStafne

I try to tweet other events as well and general information related to fruit crops.



Some Tidbits Learned from the Southern Blueberry and Fruit Workers Meeting

Recently I attended the Southern Blueberry and Fruit Workers meeting in Atlanta, GA.  It is held as part of the Southern Region of the American Society for Horticultural Science annual conference.  Below are some new things I learned about at the meeting:

Ring nematode is prevalent in Georgia blueberry plantings

The nematode problem is worse in re-plant situations and may require fumigation

Southern highbush blueberries have more problems than Rabbiteyes, especially in re-plant situations

Using pine bark mulch appears to reduce nematode populations

The addition of humic acid to the soil does not appear to benefit blueberry plants

Botrytis resistance to fungicides has happened in GA.  Use of Captan or Ziram is now recommended because of low resistance possibility

Mummy berry sprays should be applied starting at first sign of green tissue.  Indar, Orbit, Pristine, and Proline (a new material) showed efficacy.  Serenade, an organic product, also had some efficacy.  Regalia, another organic product, had no effective control of the disease.

Exobasidium is becoming resistant to Pristine in GA.  ‘Premier’ has high infection rates, as does Tifblue.  A full Captan spray schedule is effective (about 8 sprays in GA), but not using Captan as a delayed dormant spray.  Use Lime Sulfur or Sulforix for best control as a delayed dormant spray.

Xyllela (blueberry scorch) has been found in various states.  In Rabbiteye’s  it leads to chronic symptoms, but in Southern Highbush scorch symptoms are readily apparent.  There may be different strains of this disease and more work is being done.

Blueberry Necrotic Ring Blotch is a non-systemic viral disease that is only in leaves.  Mites spread it.  It can lead to defoliation of the plant.

Broad mites have been found in blueberries and blackberries in Arkansas.  Damage resembles Roundup injury.  Leaves have a “silvery” look, with rosetting and stunting of plants, and necrosis of the petiole.  It will kill shoot tips.

Blueberry rust is a problem in Gulf Coast areas of Alabama.

Foliar calcium spray trials in GA on rabbiteyes have shown no efficacy

Three new Southern Highbush blueberries are being released from UGA soon.

One new Rabbiteye cultivars is also being released from UGA – Krewer, an early, large fruited cultivar that should pair well with Titan

2015 Mississippi Blueberry Education Workshop

The 2015 Mississippi Blueberry Education Workshop will take place February 12, 2015 from 1-5pm at the MSU Forrest County Extension office in Hattiesburg, MS.  Mississippi State University Extension Service, in conjunction with the USDA-ARS and the Gulf South Blueberry Growers Association, will once again host an educational workshop focused on blueberry production in Mississippi. This year the topics will include Spotted Wing Drosophila, Disease issues, Blueberry breeding, Pollination and pollinators, Mechanized harvest technology and economics, and the Food Safety Modernization Act. Please come learn about these important topics.
Cost: $10, at the door will be collected by the Gulf South Blueberry Growers Association to help in future workshops.

Get the full schedule of speakers and other information by downloading the pdf file below:

Blueberry Workshop 2015

NABREW: Exo and SWD Info Nuggets

The 2014 North American Blueberry Research and Extension Workers (NABREW) conference was held in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  This conference is held every 4 years and this was the first one I attended.  It was highly informative with great presentations on blueberry viruses, genetics and genomics, insect pests, blueberry culture, blueberry pollinators, blueberry breeding, history, weed management, phenology prediction, fungal pests, and Extension.  I was very interested in the sections on pest management because of the issues we are having with Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) and Exobasidium.  Luckily, some of the national experts on these pests were in attendance.  Below are some nuggets of information I gleaned from the presentations:


-Crop losses have been variable in North Carolina, with 2% reported in 2013 and most occurring during Rabbiteye season

-Georgia reported 15% loss in 2012

-Fly captures within a field are not necessarily indicative of fruit infestation

-Sprays need to be applied frequently, probably in less than 7 day intervals

-Other pests like scale and whiteflies are becoming more of a problem due to the sprays used to control SWD

-Pyganic (organic spray) has not been effective in New Jersey or other states

-Entrust (organic spray) is effective

-Weed barrier fabric has been shown to suppress populations in Florida vs. pine bark mulch

-SWD comes in from wild hosts like blackberry and dewberry

-Trap bait with Yeast + Sugar + Water is effective but needs to be changed every week

-SWD prefers raspberry and strawberry to blueberry

-After a rain event, Mustang Max still had some activity, but Malathion not much

-Delegate and Mustang Max may kill eggs and larvae (especially young larvae) within 2 days of application based on research from Michigan


-Leaf infections worse in lower part of bush and fruit infections worse in interior of bush

-Disease does not appear to be systemic

-Disease prefers areas with high humidity and poor air circulation

-A single lime sulfur spray at 1 week before green tip was very effective in controlling the disease in Georgia

-Early season applications (begin late February) of Captan and Indar worked well too, but more applications needed

-Resistance to Pristine has been seen in Georgia


The NABREW attendees in New Jersey at the P.E. Marucci Center for Blueberry & Cranberry Research & Extension in Chatsworth.

The NABREW attendees in New Jersey at the P.E. Marucci Center for Blueberry & Cranberry Research & Extension in Chatsworth.

Mississippi Vaccinium Journal July – September 2014

The latest issue of the Mississippi Vaccinium Journal is now available.  It is at the bottom as a link to a PDF.  Remember, you can always access past issues here:
In this issue we discuss Exobasidium, recap the legislator tour, fruit flies and more.
If you have any questions or comments please let me know.

Read the Latest Blueberry Newsletter

The new edition of the Mississippi Vaccinium Journal is posted.  It contains current information on Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD), Exobasidium Leaf and Fruit Spot and more.  SWD is a serious pest of not only blueberries but other soft fruits, especially blackberries, strawberries, grapes, etc. You can access it by clicking the link below:

Mississippi Vaccinium Journal Volume 1 Issue 3

Past issues can be accessed here: http://msucares.com/newsletters/vaccinium/index.html

Feel free to add comments, questions, concerns or feedback by replying to this blog post.