Blueberry Conference held on 2-3 March 2017 in Poland is the biggest meeting of blueberry producers in Europe. Researchers, growers and sales people from all over the world – 800 participants from about 20 countries – summed up their experience and talked about the biggest challenges facing them this season and in the coming years.
Leon Schrijnwerkers of Schrijnwerkers Plants in the Netherlands presented the Dutch model of setting up and running blueberry plantations, and Dr. Chaim Kempler of Berries and More Consulting discussed the experience of Canadian growers.
Research by Dr. Gianfranco Anfora of IASAMA Research and Innovation Center in Italy was discussed. Risks associated with the occurrence of fungi and pests were elaborated on by Dr. Kamil Jeziorek of Syngenta Poland.
One of the leading presentations discussed the conditions of quality maintenance throughout harvest and storage of blueberries. A new higher standard of harvest was introduced by the representatives of Polish Berry Cooperative – the largest producer of blueberries in Europe. The company was founded as a result of cooperation of three leading Polish producers: Polskie Jagody, ELLIOT and BerryGroup.
“We cool down our blueberries immediately after picking, within 30 minutes. This standard exceeds even the most demanding certifications in the world. It ensures our berries stay fresh longer” says Jarosław Bień of PBC.
“All our plantations have the GlobalGAP certificate. It is the most restrictive certification in the world, telling how fruit should be produced and picked. But our standard goes a step further. We set ourselves even higher requirements, and we want to promote them among other growers” adds Mateusz Pilch, also of PBC.
Fernando Carvalho – Commercial Director of the Portuguese Acegrow, a participant in this year’s conference:
“Polish blueberries are of good quality, thanks to the commitment of growers and the measures they take, especially when it goes for varieties. I’ve noticed that Polish producers are paying more attention to newer varieties. This means, of course, much better quality.
I’m very pleased that Polish Berry Cooperative is aiming to get all blueberries into the cold store in 30 minutes, and at least pre-chill them.It will bring good results and therefore I think the prospects for the future are very good. Actually, I wish I could do exactly the same in Portugal. Unfortunately, it is not possible because we have a lot of small growers who are scattered over large areas, so it would be very difficult to achieve. But I think that future will be exactly like that: chill your blueberries as fast as you can.”
Participants in the Blueberrry Conference also had an opportunity to meet outdoors. In the historical blueberry plantation in Piskórka, they could see 30-year-old blueberry shrubs, take part in a shrub pruning demonstration and see a presentation of machines used for cultivation of blueberries.