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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1017: X International Symposium on Vaccinium and Other Superfruits

ORGANIC BLUEBERRY PRODUCTION SYSTEMS - ADVANCES IN RESEARCH AND INDUSTRY

Author:   B. Strik
Keywords:   Vaccinium corymbosum, weed mat, landscape fabric, certified organic, survey, weed control, sawdust, mulch, compost
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2014.1017.33
Abstract:
Worldwide highbush blueberry area increased from 42,000 ha in 2005 to 77,290 ha in 2010. In 2010, the USA had the greatest planted area with 46% of the world total, followed by Chile (17%), Canada (12%), and Argentina, Poland, and China (with 4-5% each). The planted area of organic highbush blueberry increased four-fold from 2006 to an estimated 4,156 ha in 2011. Countries with the largest organic blueberry area in 2011 were the USA and Chile. Certified organic blueberry area in the USA increased from an estimated 194 ha in 2003 to 1,665 ha in 2011. The greatest growth has occurred in the western USA which accounted for 26% of the total planted highbush blueberry area, but 64% of the total organic area planted. Those surveyed reported similar factors that may limit the development or expansion of organic highbush blueberry area including the difficulty of managing weeds, insects, and diseases, limited markets for organic fruit and competition from fruit produced in regions where production costs are lower. In some countries, organic area has declined due to difficulty in marketing organic fruit at competitive prices. Research that may benefit organic as well as conventional blueberry growers including cultivar development, plant nutrient requirements/seasonal allocation, use of organic amendments, pest control methods, understanding pest cycles, and other general cultural practices has been done or is underway in many countries and production regions. Organic research projects (public) were reported to be underway in the USA, Chile, and Italy. Research on certified organic land has been relatively limited in blueberry. Methods of managing weeds, mulching to improve plant growth, use of composts, and fertilization in organic production systems are reviewed. It is clear that the choices available for organic blueberry production systems vary in their yield and in economic return.

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