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Fruit Update every week is to them. “We’ve got to cooperate across

borders. The berry industry is not large enough for us not to. We need to share resources and support each other throughout the northwest,” he believes. Peerbolt works with a well- informed network of field consultants and berry specialists throughout the northwest to gather and disseminate data on current conditions each week in the Small Fruit Update.

During the more than 20 years he’s been consulting in the berry industry, Peerbolt has seen some huge changes in the industry, with blueberries especially.

They weren’t seen as a huge profit centre in those early days. “They were safe but they weren’t making huge money. Raspberries were the hot crop then.”

Global competition has taken a huge toll on returns for berries, though.

He admits he is just amazed at the amount of acreage now in blueberries in B.C. With 23,000 acres in production, it will be the well-planted fields that will make a profit, he predicts.

“As long as growers are able to open up new markets, then the expanded acreage won’t be a problem.” However, Peerbolt warns that people should look carefully at the long term and invest carefully. “Do your homework and plant carefully. There’s always demand for high quality product.”

Above all, he says growers should know where their fruit is going before they put a plant into the ground. There is both high risk and high value in small fruits, so the more information growers gather, the better a chance they have to mitigate that risk and increase that value. “The northwest is a great climate for blueberries,” he adds.

He also feels there is good potential for caneberries such as raspberries and blackberries, with their complex flavours.

In recent years, the elephant in the room has been spotted wing drosophila, the tiny fruit fly that infests ripening fruit, just prior to harvest, rendering it unfit for market. SWD updates from each of the regions of the northwest have become a big issue in Peerbolt’s weekly newsletter.

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This year is quite different from

last, with SWD showing up much earlier after a mild winter, he noted. “We desperately need a better monitoring system, so growers are warned in advance of an infestation,” he said. Traps can’t be relied on to make

crop management decisions, because often by the time there are high captures, they’re already in the crop and the ripening fruit is more

attractive to them than the traps. Integrated Pest Management

becomes very frustrating when you have to spray for SWD. “We had been very close to eliminating broad- spectrum insecticides,” he commented. To receive weekly updates on

berries in this area, subscribe to the free Small Fruit Update by e-mailing Peerbolt at:

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