By Doug Phillips
The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) blueberry breeding program has developed a phone app resource that includes several tools for Florida blueberry growers. It is available for download on both iOS and Android systems.
Blueberry breeder Patricio Muñoz developed the idea for the UF/IFAS Blueberry Growers Guide app. He had a vision to create an information resource that growers can have on their phones to access much of the information they need in one place, instead of having to search for and consult several diverse sources. The app currently includes a field scouting guide, a cultivar module and a monthly management calendar. A chemical products module and a Spanish version of the app are in development. The following is a brief description of each module.
The scouting guide is a field scouting tool to help growers identify the cause of symptoms they observe on their blueberry plants. It includes sections for diseases, insect/mite pests, nutrient deficiencies and toxicities, and abiotic conditions. The information can be accessed through a diagnostic key (Figure 1), an image gallery and a listing of contents. For each disease and insect/mite pest, there is a description of symptoms, a disease or life cycle, management suggestions (along with effectiveness ratings and mode of action groups for suggested chemical controls) and links to UF/IFAS Extension publications.
While the scouting guide is a valuable tool, growers are still encouraged to submit samples to the UF/IFAS Plant Diagnostic Center for diagnosis, especially for significant or widespread issues.
The cultivar module contains detailed information on all UF/IFAS southern highbush blueberry cultivars. This is a helpful tool for growers considering planting new cultivars on their farms. The module will assist in identifying the best fit for production goals.
There are various filters available to narrow searches based on the desired Florida region, production system and other characteristics. For each of the newer cultivars, growers will find images, whether that cultivar is recommended for planting in Florida, the region of the state it is best adapted to, production system (deciduous or evergreen), average and 2021 per plant yields, fruit quality characteristics, insect and disease susceptibilities, cultivars with overlapping bloom times and other information.
The management calendar module is a management tool for Florida growers. It has information for each month on what to look for and do regarding disease, insects/mites, weed control, pruning, freeze protection and managed bees. The disease and insect/mite items link directly into the scouting guide and include links to UF/IFAS Extension resources.
On the first day of each month, growers receive a notification to look at the new month’s management items. This resource is a good reminder to Florida growers of the items they should be focused on each month.
A new module that is currently under development is a chemical products module. The plan is to include summary label information for commonly used products (fungicides, insecticides, miticides and herbicides) for each active ingredient labeled in Florida for highbush blueberry.
There will also be links to the label on the Crop Data Management Systems (CDMS) website (www.cdms.net). Each of the summary label items will be dynamically linked to the CDMS database so that when CDMS updates the label with new information from the manufacturer, the label information in the app will also be updated within a brief time period. This is intended to be a quick reference tool, not a substitute for reading the product label and following all instructions.
A final item under development is a Spanish language version of the app for growers or farm managers whose first language is Spanish.
Florida blueberry growers are encouraged to check out this tool and let us know what you think. We are continuously looking for ways to make improvements and add other functions.
Doug Phillips is a UF/IFAS blueberry Extension coordinator at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Wimauma.