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Blueberry research launches exciting new California specialty crop

  • Author(s): Jimenez, Manuel
  • Carpenter, Francis
  • Molinar, Richard H.
  • Wright, Kathryn
  • Day, Kevin R.
  • et al.
Abstract

Observational trials at the UC Kearney Research and Extension Center indicate that new southern highbush blueberry cultivars, which require fewer “chill hours” to produce fruit, are well adapted to the San Joaquin Valley climate. In a replicated cultivar evaluation, we quantified yields and identified several productive and flavorful varieties. These initial trials and ongoing studies on irrigation, plant spacing, mulches and pruning will improve the likelihood of establishing this promising new crop in the semiarid valley. Because blueberries are acid-loving, the soil must be extensively treated before planting, at considerable expense. Growers considering planting or expanding blueberry acreage should develop sound business plans, accounting for lower future prices and improved growing, harvesting and packing efficiencies.

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