The upcoming Blueberry School, a three-date educational event organized by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, will cover everything from the first-day-in-the-field fundamentals to the latest in research-based recommendations, said Amanda McWhirt, extension commercial horticulture specialist for the Division of Agriculture.
“We’re targeting this course toward people who are just getting started with blueberries,” McWhirt said. “But we are also covering a lot of updated research recommendations that will be applicable to established growers.
“The first class will really be an overview of blueberry production in Arkansas,” she said. “We want to set the stage with the basics, and talk about some of the specific things growers need to be doing in the spring and early summer to manage a blueberry crop. Then we’ll follow the blueberry crop through the rest of the season with the other classes.”
The season-long school will take place over three dates: May 9, at the Division of Agriculture Fruit Research Station in Clarksville; June 4, which will include a tour of various farms in the Fayetteville area; and an as-yet-to-be-determined date in September, again at the Fruit Research Station. Both the May and June meetings take place from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
The first meeting will also feature discussions with Ryan Neal, Benton County Cooperative Extension Service agricultural agent, who will speak about his own experiences as a growers in the region, and Hannah Burrack, a well-known entomologist with North Carolina State University, who will speak about integrated pest management in blueberries.
McWhirt said the June meeting will feature discussions about basic food safety, particularly as it applies to harvesting crops, as well as fertilization and irrigation. The final class, in September, will feature a more in-depth discussion of food and produce safety, marketing, and crop management in the fall.
The deadline to register for the school is May 6. The cost to attend is $50 for all three classes, which will pay for printed materials, snacks and other supplies. Participants will need to provide their own transportation for the June 4 farm tours. Visit https://uaex.formstack.com/forms/blueberryschool to register online.
To learn about fruit production in Arkansas, contact a local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.edu. Follow the agency on Twitter at @UAEX_edu.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without discrimination.