Blueberries get a $3.9 million + boost with a multi-disciplinary, multi-institution project

Blueberries are a lucrative yet long-term investment in which demand is high, and supply is subject to the caprices of climate and a host of biological assaults. Dr. Timothy Miles has assembled a team of researchers, extension specialists, and educators who work in states that represent approximately 75% of the blueberry industry in the U.S., accounting for up to 5% of total fruit production value and dominating global production.

The goals of the project are based on feedback obtained directly from the stakeholders, Dr. Timothy Miles said. “This team is highly skilled in in translating lab-generated knowledge to field application.” The outreach strategy includes online videos, extension meetings, webinars, and updates to the statewide blueberry management guides (e.g., Michigan Fruit Management Guide). “The overall goal is to improve blueberry fruit rot control and fruit quality in an integrated manner.”

Constructed with a whole-industry approach, this project involves a team of experts in small fruit pathology, horticulture, agricultural economics, and agricultural engineering, building on significant experience in the blueberry industry, with potential benefits across the blueberry industry that could span into other areas of specialty crop production at economical (1), social (2), and environmental (3) levels which involves a systems approach to blueberry fruit quality. “It’s a systems approach that will ultimately benefit of a wide audience in the specialty crop community,” Timothy said.

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