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Aphids only on milkweed in a blueberry block

These milkweed plants are being consumed by aphids while the blueberry leaves inches away have no aphids on them at all. This is a clear indicator that the soil microbial population and mineral balance is more supportive of blueberries than it is of milkweed.

The aphids are attracted to the unhealthy plants, and are taking them out of the ecosystem. If the milkweed were healthier than the blueberries, the aphids would be on the blueberries, and leave the milkweed untouched.

Since the aphids are now consuming a plant that might be considered a ‘weed’ in this particular context, does that make the aphids a pest for attacking the plants, or a beneficial ‘biocontrol’ because they are removing the ‘weed’?

2020-06-25T13:37:14-05:00July 10th, 2020|Tags: , , , |

Condensed harvest window on blueberries

When plants have a surplus of energy, reproductive buds are all large and uniform in size, blossoms all pollinate at the same time, and fruit all mature in a condensed window. For machine-harvested blueberries, this can mean harvesting 90% of the crop in a single pass. For fresh-market, hand-picked berries, this can mean harvesting the entire crop in 4-6 passes over as many weeks. You can calculate the increased labor efficiency and reduced harvest costs.

2020-06-01T20:34:21-05:00June 2nd, 2020|Tags: , |

Yield potential of blueberries

For most crops, genetics are not the limiting factor to achieve high yields. It is very seldom, almost never, that a crop is given the needed environment to deliver full genetic potential. For agricultural crops, environment is climate mediated by nutrition, biology, and soil physics.

When nutrition, biology, and soil physics are managed for optimal performance, they mitigate climactic extremes and variability to an exceptional degree, and allow plants to express themselves to deliver more of their genetic yield potential.

If you want to significantly increase yields, don’t just try to improve incrementally by purchasing better genetics. Improved genetics can often deliver 5% -10% yield bumps. Mediating climate by managing nutrition, biology, and soil physics can often increase yields by 20%-50% or more. Which is worth figuring out the most?

2020-06-24T07:15:45-05:00May 21st, 2020|Tags: , |

Optimum node spacing to increase yield potential

It is possible to produce fruiting buds and nodes with less than half the distance between them than what is common. This is true for many different crops.

Shoot length is determined by the amount of vegetative growth energy that is present within the plant. The node spacing is determined by the amount of reproductive growth energy, and the balance between the two forms of energy.

It is possible to produce an eighteen-inch long blueberry shoot with 24 buds along those eighteen inches. Or with only six buds on those same eighteen inches. Imagine the difference in future yield potential.

The same concept is true for most reproductive crops, tree fruit, nuts, vegetables, grains. Basically, any crop that has the capacity to produce multiple buds per node, or vary node spacing.

Learning to manage vegetative vs reproductive growth energy, and the mineral balances that determine this balance can result in some very high returns on knowledge.

How bud uniformity can reduce harvest labor

When plants have high energy, buds become very uniform in size and maturity, and blossoms open and pollinate close to the same time. All of this can result in a condensed harvest window, which is valuable for both machine harvested and hand picked crops.

We have observed as much as 30-35% reduction in harvest time window on a number of varieties, which leads to much greater harvest efficiency.

Here is an example of blueberry buds which will produce uniformly ripe fruit in a time window of a few weeks.

 

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