Image by Andreas Kind

Blueberries

Blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) are perennial flowering plants with blue or purple berries of the genus Vaccinium (family Ericaceae), native to North America.   The fruit is considered very healthy, rich in dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, iron and a number of antioxidants and fatty acids.  Blueberries are often consumed fresh or processed and have a high demand in the USA and EU. Recently, the fruit was also introduced in China. The blueberry plants are deciduous shrubs that vary in size according to the species.

 

Lowbush blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium) can reach up to 60 cm tall, while the highbush (V. corymbosum) cultivars can reach up to 4 meters tall. The plant's leaves are elliptical and arranged alternately along the stems. The plants produce clusters of small urn-shaped flowers that range in color from white to pale pink. The blueberry fruits are classified as true berries with many small seeds.  Blueberries are divided into four types: highbush, lowbush, hybrid half-high and rabbiteye species, which vary in their fruit color (from blue to purple), size, flavor, season and cold resistance.

 

The most commonly planted blueberry is the highbush species that fulfill the main breeding goals, e.g., better yields, wider climate adjustments, pest\disease resistance, etc. Blueberry plants cannot be planted everywhere and has special agronomic requirements, such as low pH and sensitivity to salinity (EC), limiting the areas available for growing. As this is the case, growing blueberries in substrate became the primary practice for this crop. Accurate growing and precise irrigation can contribute to better yields and high fruit quality, with an almost year-round supply.

 
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Farmers Pain Points

Soil: Plants are very sensitive to high EC or high pH. In some regions, it is only possible to grow blueberries soilless.

Climate: Some traditional varieties need cold winter. There are varieties that originated in light winter. Choosing the right variety is crucial.

Harvest: Harvesting demands a lot of labor. Automation of harvest is in its first steps.

Water: Irrigation is a delicate issue. Over-wetting or not enough water may harm the root system.

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Growing Smart
support package

  • Identifying the challenges/requirements for growing blueberries in your area.
     

  • Identifying the best varieties for growing conditions and growers’ needs.
     

  • Plot design – planting density, irrigation system and its’ relevant pressure.
     

  • Fertilizing program to achieve maximum yield.
     

  • Pesticiding protocol and guidelines.
     

  • Post-harvest guidance.
     

  • Ongoing technical support to ensure best results and customers’ satisfaction.