Tag Archives: Blueberries

New protection system for cherries comes to Europe

A new cherry protection system, which the manufacturers claim can be opened and closed in minutes, is heading to European orchards having been successfully used in Chile.

Wayki Solutions says that a single worker can cover, or remove, on hectare in just 20 minutes, much less time than is required with most other systems, including automated ones. The system uses a normal hand drill to turn the winding mechanism, which in turn opens and closes the covers, which sit above the existing orchard poles.

Cristián Lopez of Wayki Europe said, “Around the world, we are experiencing more and more severe and unexpected weather conditions. This has serious implications for the fruit business as it raises the possibility of events including rain and hail damaging fruit, and high winds damaging growing infrastructure such as poles and cables. Wayki is a very exciting development because it gives growers the control to cover and uncover their orchards and vineyards in a matter of minutes in response to these events.”

As well as cherries, the company believes that the cover system may have applications for crops including blueberries, apples and other soft fruit, and different types of cover can be fitted.

Photo Credit: pixabay

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New system improves blueberry production

Improving the drainage of container-grown blueberry crops can improve both fruit quality and yield according to the manufacturers of a new hydroponic tool.

The Spacer Hydropot system from Spanish company Hydroponic Systems improves root development, and therefore overall plant growth. It consists of a polypropylene gutter which raises the growing bag off the ground, and a 30×30 cm ‘tray’ which supports the bag. The system ensures air movement and drainage below the roots, while keeping them contained in the growing media.

“It allows blueberry growers to obtain all the advantages of our system: the optimum aeration between the substrate and drains, the prevention of root exit from the substrate and its contact with drainage,” explains Maria Gimenez Lopez from Hydroponic Systems. “Thanks to the easy installation and disinfection and the efficient drainage circulation, the diseases decrease – offering eventually a production that’s both higher in quality and quantity.

“This system evolved from systems having the pot resting directly on the ground to using different supports (such as polystyrene or bricks) up until the current Spacer Hydropot. Bricks or polystyrene do not allow aeration between the substrate and the drains and as a consequence the roots leave the substrate.”

Photo Caption: Diagram showing the support structure, here used in conjunction with a gutter drain.

Photo Credit: Hydroponic Systems

The post New system improves blueberry production appeared first on Hort News on 26 September 2018.

Scottish scientists looking for native blueberry variety

Scientists at the James Hutton Institute (JHI) at Invergowrie near Dundee are working to develop varieties of blueberry which are tailored for UK growing conditions.

Sales of blueberries have soared in recent years, with consumption increasing by 24 per cent last year, but up to 90 per cent of the crop is still imported. It is hoped that the closely related blaeberry (also known as the bilberry) could hold the key to developing native varieties.

JHI researcher Dr Susan McCallum told reporters at the recent Fruit for the Future event: “Blaeberries are native to the UK and other places across Europe, and they’re part of the same family as blueberries, so we’re looking to develop the genetic background of both the blueberry and blaeberry to see if we can identify which genes help the blaeberry to thrive so well in the UK, to see if we can transfer that into a UK blueberry.

“We’re also looking at the genes which confer the colour through the pulp of the blueberry to see if we can understand that because that’s what gives the extra anthocyanins and the perceived health benefits of the fruit.”

Wild blueberries need little nutrient input and are tolerant of periods of drought, so it is hoped that new varieties could also reduce the environmental impact of fruit production. “[Blaeberries] thrive well because they have a great relationship with fungi. We’re looking to see if we can isolate the fungi that work so well on the blaeberry and inoculate the blueberry to see if we can help it establish much quicker,” Dr McCallum added.

Photo Caption: It is hoped the native blaeberry could help to develop UK-specific varieties of blueberry.

Photo Credit: Flickr

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James Hutton Institute aims to increase blueberry yields

New plant breeding technology is being used by the James Hutton Institute to help blueberries thrive in the Scottish climate.

Part of a comprehensive package of research funded by the Scottish Government in environment and agriculture in 2015-2016, the project aims to produce blueberry plants that are more suited to the Scottish climate, helping to provide local options of this healthy fruit which may help manage type 2 diabetes.

Blueberry production in Scotland grew 10 per cent last year as demand continued to increase. Scottish Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said, “Blueberries are an increasingly popular fruit in the UK. Traditionally blueberries are imported to Scotland but this innovative research we are funding is using new technology to develop plants that are more suitable for the Scottish soil and climate as well as helping us to fully understand the health benefits of this fruit.

“Scottish blueberry production is already on the increase and this should help boost local production of this fruit – which is better for the environment and also good news for our economy.”

Dr Julie Graham, part of the James Hutton Institute’s Cell and Molecular Sciences and leader of the blueberry breeding programme commented, “Cutting-edge plant breeding technology is enabling the James Hutton Institute to develop new blueberry cultivars. These cultivars, better suited to Scottish conditions, should enable an increase in the home-grown blueberry crop, which will be of benefit to Scottish soft fruit growers. Long-term funding from the Scottish Government has been instrumental in supporting this research.”

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

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Berry sales rise as bumper harvest looms

Data from Kantar Worldpanel shows that berry sales in the UK now account for a fifth of total fruit consumption making them more popular than apples and bananas as the popularity of juices and smoothies shows no signs of slowing down.

Strawberries are the most popular soft fruit, with sales last year valued at £564,382 million. They were followed by blueberries (£282,962m) and raspberries (£220,336m). Laurence Olins, chairman of British Summer Fruits, said, “Berries used to be a luxury item, but now they are a delicious staple, consumed as part of a healthy diet for many people. The sales figures reveal a robust and expanding soft fruit category that is meeting growing consumer demand.”

The figures came as British Summer Fruits predicted a record breaking strawberry harvest this year thanks to ideal spring growing conditions. Up to 74,000 tonnes of the fruit is predicted to be produced over the coming summer. The top retail varieties are Malling Centenary; Elsanta; Sonata; Sweet Eve; Driscoll’s Jubilee; Ava Rosa; Red Glory; and Capri.

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First National Blueberry Day announced

The impact of the first ever National Blueberry Day is still being assessed after it attracted little press coverage outside of Twitter.

Reports ahead of the event, held on 13 August, reported that the event, organised by BerryWorld to raise awareness of blueberries and blueberry recipes would have its own dedicated website and Twitter feed.

However a stand at the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent helped to celebrate 20 years of UK blueberry production, while press kits were sent to journalists and there was some radio coverage.

“BerryWorld is proud to have been so heavily involved in growing the blueberry market in the UK over the last 20 years. 42 per cent penetration is a strong sign of the fruit’s popularity, but there is still headroom for growth,” said BerryWorld managing director, Adam Olins.

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