Blueberries a Brief Synopsis Research Paper

Pages: 8 (3074 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 14  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Agriculture

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] Blueberries are known for having very thin fibrous roots devoid of root hairs with the finest ones being no more than twenty µm in their diameter (Valehzuela 2009). Highbush blueberry plants have endotrophic mvcorhizza, which assist the roots in absorbing water and nutrients, while lowbush blueberry plants have rhizomes instead of roots, allowing them to grow more in the area they cover, rather than height (Valehzuela 2009). Highbush varieties can have root systems that can 2 meters in diameter but they rarely go farther than 1 meter deep (Valehzuela 2009).

The flower growing within the bud grows differently than the fruit buds. It grows from the base to the tip, which is opposite to than the fruit buds (Purdue University Horticulture & Landscape Architecture 2009). The fruit buds develop basipetally, towards the base from the tip of the freshly made shoot, and they initiate their development during the transition from summer to fall (Valehzuela 2009). The bigger the shoot diameter is (climate dependent), the greater the number of flower buds and therefore the larger the actual size of each berry will be (Valehzuela 2009). The greater number of seeds, cell size, and cell number are factors that are directly proportional to the overall size of the fruit (Valehzuela 2009).

Seasonal growth cycle

After chilling, the blueberry bushes lie dormant and will initiate growth as soon as there are favourable conditions (Longstroth 2002). As the ground begins to warm in early spring, the roots begin to grow, specifically in the moist warm surface soil. The buds start growing by accessing the sugar that was stored in the buds (Longstroth 2002). Soil that bare saturated with water, as in flooded fields, may cause the roots to drown or cause the root system will remain shallow. Drier soils tend to have deeper roots systems. Soil moisture is very important throughout the growing season because the roots must be able to sustain sufficient flow of water and nutrients to the leaves to maintain growth (Longstroth 2002).

Typically there are 6 to 12 flowers in a cluster and the flowers at the base of the bud open first. During bloom, the first flowers are then pollenated and have the propensity to support the growth of the largest berries (Longstroth 2002). Conversely, the later buds tend to produce smaller berries. As the fruit begins to grow, roots slow their growth, and the shoots, fruit and new leaves now demand more sugar and water (Longstroth 2002). Taking advantage of the early period of fruit growth is very important in determining the final size of the berries. For several weeks after the initial stages of bloom, berries grow by hyperplasia and later on it switches to hypertrophy (Longstroth 2002).

The plant's energy is channelled into being a berry making machine. During harvest time, shoot and leaf growth has virtually stopped (Longstroth 2002). After harvest the plant begins to prepare for next year's growth. Sugar is stored as starch in the bark and wood of the shoots and in the roots (Longstroth 2002). At this time, root growth increases and the roots will be actively growing if the soil is moist (Longstroth 2002). Under good growing conditions the plant can store up large reserves, for next year's growth (Longstroth 2002).

Blueberries will usually ripen over a period of three to four weeks. It is expected that ripe blueberries should have be uniformly blue in colour (Valehzuela 2009). Fruit with an even a slight red tinge are considered less mature and will not be as sweet as more mature berries. Weather conditions will determine when blueberries must be harvested (Longstroth 2002). This can be as many as four times in intervals of five to seven days. Harvesting more frequently may not make efficient use of labour, whereas less frequent harvesting may result in a high percentage of overripe fruit (Longstroth 2002).

During fall, next year's flower buds start to form and when growth starts in the spring, the terminal buds begin growth first (Longstroth 2002). Lateral buds start to grow distal of the shoot and typically will initiate growth later than those nearer to the tip (Longstroth 2002).

According to the Perdue University Horticulture Quality Guidelines (Purdue University Horticulture & Landscape Architecture 2010):

Blueberry quality is a combination of appearance and flavour. According to grade standards, U.S. No.1 consists of blueberries which meet the following requirements: (1) Similar varietal characteristics; 2) Clean; (3) Well collared; 4) Not overripe; (5) Not crushed, split, or leaking; and, 6) Not wet.

Fruit should be free from: (1) Attached stems (2) Mould (3) Decay; (4) Insects or when there is visible evidence of the presence of insects; (5) Mummified berries; and, (6) Clusters, and free from damage caused by (1) Shrivelling; (2) Broken skins; 3) Scars; and (4) Green berries. Quality characteristics of interest to the grower include plant vigor, yield potential, and disease resistance.

Best practice suggests that ripe blueberries should be cooled within 4 hours of harvest (Boyette 1999). Refer to Figure 1 for a graph that outlines the senescence of blueberries in relation to ambient temperature.

Figure 1. Percentage of decay in packaged blueberries stored at various temperature. (Adapted from Boyette,1999).

Discussion

The blueberry industry is challenged to face issues that that will impact production levels and crop value (AGBA 2010). With Rapidly increasing acreage and world-wide supply, the resulting marketing challenges will manifest themselves in all facets of this industry (BCMAFF 2003). Promotional activities will be essential in order to promote increasing consumption of blueberries (BCMAFF 2003). It could be deduced that Australian producers produce only a small percentage of the crop, and as such they become vulnerable to competition from other blueberry producing areas (BCMAFF 2003, AGBA 2011). Having an effective marketing strategy for the quality-oriented production and high-level consumption of blueberries is crucial in order to maintain and increase the market share (BCMAFF 2003, AGBA 2010). Currently, the demand for blueberries is an increasing trend in domestic and international markets (BCMAFF 2003). Reliant on consumer health awareness, buyers in countries like Japan could afford the Australian market with great potentials in developing the outward expansion of export markets. In order to have a viable industry where accessible profit is the driving force for innovation, there must be a continual push for new blueberry products. (AGBA 2010).

Conclusion

The Australian blueberry industry is a rapidly expanding industry with huge potential as blueberries are a popular, well flavoured, healthy food that is sought by the health conscious consumer. Understanding the growth cycle, harvesting techniques, and marketing aspects will be crucial in providing quality blueberries to an already competitive marketplace. Selection of the correct variety, according to the climate and production criteria of the grower, is strongly deterministic in its inherent profitability. Slow growth, seasonal lag times, crop maintenance, declining prices, and availability of labour, may invariably affect the grower's propensity to have blueberry farming as a sole source of income.

REFERENCES

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. 2005. 'Crop Profile for Wild Blueberry in Canada'. Prepared by: Pesticide Risk Reduction Program

Asoex, 2007. Fruit Export Statistics. Chilean Federal Association of Exporting.

AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF STATISTICS (ABS) 2008. Agricultural Commodities: Small Area Data, Australia, 2005-06 (Reissue), ABS No 7125.0.

Australian Blueberry Growers Association (ABGA). 2011. Retrieved from: http://www.australianblueberries.com.au/the_blueberry_story.php

Australian Blueberry Growers Association (ABGA). 2010. Blueberry Annual Investment Plan -- 2010/2011

BC Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Industry Competitiveness Branch (BCMAFF). 2003. BC Highbush Blueberry Industry

Boyette, M.D., 1999. Postharvest Cooling and Handling of Blueberries. U.S. Department of Agriculture: North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. Retrieved from: http://www.bae.ncsu.edu/programs/extension/publicat/postharv/ag-413-7/index.html

British Columbia Blueberry Council. 2007. BC Blueberries -- 2007.

Chiasson G.1996. 'Harvesting for Blueberry Quality'. Department of Agriculture & Rural Development.

Campbell, M, 2003. AUSTRALIA Fact Sheet -- Blueberries. Retrieved from: http://www.abc.net.au/gardening/stories/s789952.htm

Clayton-Greene, K.1999: "The Blueberry Industry in Australia: An Overview" a summary of an article at the Web site for the International Society for Horticultural Science.

Creationwiki 2009. BLUEBERRY. Retrieved from: http://creationwiki.org/Blueberry

Cross, J. 2009. Average Berry Plant Yields: Expected Harvest of Four Fruit Bearers. Retrieved from: http://www.suite101.com/content/average-berry-plant-yields

DPI 2008. Blueberry production in southern Australia. Department of Primary Industries, Farm Services, Parkville, Victoria.

Fedefruta, 2007. Blueberries in South America. Chilean Federal Fruit Board

Filippone PT. 2006. 'Blueberry History'. Retrieved from: About.com http://homecooking.about.com/od/foodhistory/a/blueberyhistory.htm

International Association for Plant Taxonomy (IAPT). 2003. "Vaccinium Linnaeus." Index Nominum. Retrieved from: Genericorumhttp://botany.si.edu/ing/INGsearch.cfm?searchword=Vaccinium.

Jenkinson L. 2008. Growing Blueberries. Retrieved from: http://www.whatprice.co.uk.

Longstroth, M. 2002. A Year in the Life of a Blueberry Bush. HORTICULTURE: Van Buren MSUE. Retrieved from: http://www.canr.msu.edu/vanburen/fbbgrow.htm

Michigan Department of Agriculture, 2010. State-wide Fruit Production Report.

Naumann, W.D. (1993). "Overview of the Vaccinium Industry in Western Europe." In K.A. Clayton-Greene. Fifth International Symposium on Vaccinium Culture. Wageningen, the Netherlands: International Society for Horticultural Science. pp. 53 -- 58. ISBN 978-90-66054-75-

New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries, 2008. 'Producing High Quality Wild Blueberry Fruit'. Retrieved from: http://www.gnb.ca/0171/10/0171100018-e.asp

DPI 2008. Blueberry production in southern Australia. Department of Primary Industries, Farm Services, Parkville, Victoria.

Pirovano, F., 2005. "Argentina Blueberries… [END OF PREVIEW]

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