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Archive for the ‘Duke blueberry’ Category

Improving Bluecrop production

Posted by blueberrytalk on November 3, 2016

For many years Bluecrop held the distinction of being the variety of choice for blueberry growers. Then came Duke! Duke was as easy to pollinate as Bluecrop was difficult to pollinate. Bluecrop invariably left 20-30% of the fruit as tiny undeveloped green berries. Duke berries tend to ripen in fewer pickings making it much easier for pickers to achieve  higher production. This says nothing about the overall production of the field.

We are attempting to meet all of the challenges posed by Dukes by using Mason bees to pollinate in the Bluecrop. Mason bees are trapped by their unwillingness to fly long distances so they can be forced to pollinate Bluecrop when they are placed next to Bluecrop. The first question is :”How many Mason bee cocoons does it take to pollinate an acre of Bluecrop?” We are close to an answer to this and probably after the 2017 season we will have a pretty good idea. Last year we used about 1500 cocoons per acre. Overall production is harder to pin down but we are collecting data in this area. We will have something to say about picker satisfaction that comes from compressed ripening later in this blog entry.

Let’s look at the challenge posed by Duke. This is what the second picking looks like to a picker!


The greater the density and size of berries the greater the productivity in picking.

Thanh is from Vietnam. He and his wife Lan have picked at our farm for about 20 years. Thanh knows the difference between a bush  he would like to pick from a bush he wouldn’t like to pick. His English is excellent and he doesn’t hesitate to share his thoughts. He has been with us through all the old “hard to pick” varieties that we no longer grow.

In 2015 we hand picked the Bluecrop in 3 pickings  In 2016 we did one hand pick and then finished the field with a machine pick. A couple of times before we machine harvested Thanh expressed his disappointment that he wouldn’t get a chance to pick the 2nd pick of Bluecrop. One anecdote can’t convince but we would like to pursue the idea  that Bluecrop , pollinated by Mason bees, can lead to a crop that produces higher picker satisfaction by the way the berries are presented on the bush.


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Mason bee field force and the pollination peak

Posted by blueberrytalk on June 6, 2011

The Mason bees are at their greatest numbers while the worker bumblebees are increasing every day. Pollination opportunities are at their peak. ( Duke blossoms in the inset)

Mason bee nests

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Dukes are done

Posted by blueberrytalk on August 6, 2010

Newer varieties of blueberries tend to produce over a shorter period. Concentrated ripening is a delight for pickers who can pick whole handfuls at once and just about double their daily production compared to traditional varieties. For those of us packing the fruit it is a hectic two weeks of getting out orders.

Where we live floodgates at the nearby river are used to keep the water level up in the ditches that surround our farm. The water enters our drainage lines to irrigate the land. Water is important for the plants in setting fruit buds for next year! Now we are looking at the flush of new growth on our Dukes that will carry next years crop and we can watch for the formation of fruit buds for next year.

new growth - Duke blueberry plant

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