Author: Blueberry Conference organizators
On 1st and 2nd March, the world’s largest Blueberry Conference was held in Poland. Over 950 people took part in the event, including 180 guests from outside Poland. They came from 22 countries in Europe and the world. The conference was accompanied by exhibition. Over 70 companies operating in blueberry sector presented their offer. Participation in both the conference part on 1st March in OĹĽarów Mazowiecki, as well as the field shows on March 2 allowed to deepen the knowledge about the cultivation of blueberries, acquire many new contacts and learn about the current berry challenges which producers of this fruit have to face.
More and more international every year
The VI International Blueberry Conference was held under patronage of Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Institute of Horticulture in Skierniewice and the Independent Plant of Orchards at the Faculty of Horticulture, Biotechnology and Landscape Architecture at SGGW. Concordia Ubezpieczenia, Unitec, Syngenta and Yara Poland were the main sponsors. This year the group of additional sponsors was exceptionally numerous. Among them there were such companies as: Bayer, Royal Brinkman, BioPartner, Biodewas, Delphy, Koppert, Nursery Farms Tadeusz Kusibab, Horticultural Farm Aleksandra Kusibab-Wyka and Marcin Wyka, Horticultural Farm Waganowice Paulina Kusibab-Popowicz and MirosĹ‚aw Popowicz, and the Protech company.
The International Blueberry Conference is getting more and more popular every year. This results from the fact that new plantations are founded, often in completely new regions of Europe and the world. As Mariusz Padewski from Delphy said during his speech - It's difficult to find a country where blueberries are not grown on the map of Europe. A lot of new plantations are being planted in Poland, but also many in Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus and Serbia, from where many participants came to participate in the Conference. Numerous citizens of Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and many others also attended. In total, about 180 foreign guests from 22 countries participated in the Blueberry Conference.
Addressing important issues
The first day of the Conference was held at the Mazurkas Hotel in Ozarow Mazowiecki, where 14 lectures on the blueberry market and blueberry cultivation were presented. Trends and challenges related to blueberry cultivation in tunnels and containers (which is already common in many countries, especially where it is difficult to grow blueberries) were discussed. The lecture by dr. Kazimierz Ĺšcibisz, who presented organization of a blueberry farm, based on his own experience and practice, turned out to be extremely interesting. It turns out that in order to harvest 200 tons of blueberry in a season, depending on the varietal structure, it may be necessary to hire more than 200 pickers (when one variant or a few with similar maturing date are grown) or only 56 - provided that the varieties are properly selected.
But there are some threats as well, for example Drosophila suzukii. That was the subject of lecture presented by Helle Mathiasen from Denmark. This pest may destroy up to 85% of the yield in late varieties. To avoid this happening, it is necessary to frequently monitor traps catching pests. Another challenge is the promotion of blueberries, without which - as many speakers have emphasized - it will be difficult to properly shape the market and demand for this fruit. Fortunately, Polish Blueberry Promotion Foundation has been working in Poland since last year. Katarzyna GrzegrzóĹ‚ka Parafiniuk and Dominika Kozarzewska talked about the activities this organization has undertook.
What is the future of blueberries?
The conference part ended with a debate. It included such experts as Fred Douven from abbGrowers, Stephen Taylor from Winterwood Farms Ltd., Dominik WoĹşniak from the Rajpol group and Mariusz Padewski from Delphy. The debate was moderated by Dominika Kozarzewska from Polish Berry Cooperative. During this part, issues related to the development and future of the blueberry market in Europe and in Poland were discussed.
The threats resulting from the competitiveness of Southern blueberry varieties (unsuitable for cultivation in our climate) and the development of plantations in new regions of Europe and the world were underlined. However, there are still large opportunities to increase the sales of blueberries, also on the Polish market. We have been trading blueberries for 15 years and many things have changed. Such supermarket chains as Lidl or Biedronka introduced blueberries into their offer in the years 2010-11, and from year to year they increase orders. If we provide tasty fruit for consumers, they will buy it in constantly increasing quantities, because it is very healthy and valuable - said Dominik WoĹşniak. Another challenge is to ensure the highest quality, which is increasingly required by large retail chains. To make it possible it is necessary to invest in modern packing and sorting rooms - emphasized Stephen Taylor.
The official beer of the VI Blueberry Conference
The first day of the Blueberry Conference was finished with a gala dinner during which the official beer of the Blueberry Conference was presented - ART # 16 Blueberry Foreign Extra Stout Nitro - the world's first blueberry beer gassed with nitrogen. Creation of this beverage was possible thanks to the cooperation of Polish Berry Cooperative and Browar Stu Mostów. During the dinner conference participants had a chance to taste other flavor beer from Browar Stu Mostów - SALAMANDER Blueberry Berliner Weisse with the addition of blueberries of Chandler variety and SALAMANDER Pale Ale - light beer - brewing classic. Finally, ART # 16 Blueberry Foreign Extra Stout Nitro. There were toasts and wishes - for the further development of the blueberry business, and for undying consumer interest in the fruit.
The second day in the outdoors
It was cold but interesting. Despite the low temperature, over 400 blueberry growers visited GraĹĽyna and Marek Bobrowski's plantation. PaweĹ‚ Korfanty showed how to prune several-year-old blueberry bushes and keep them in full productivity for many years. He also indicated how to prepare plantations for mechanical harvesting, which may be imposed by a shortage of employees in the near future. Leon Schrijnwerkers from the Netherlands taught visitors how to cut and form young bushes, on the example of Chandler cultivar. Such a 3-4 year old shrub should be pruned in no longer than 30-40 seconds. The participants of the shows could check themselves if it really is possible.
1 - The exhibition during the VI Blueberry Conference
2 - Luca Montanari, UNITEC, explains technologies to obtain constant quality in blueberries
3 - Dominika Kozarzewska, Polish Berry Cooperative, explains the blueberry consumption promotion activities
4 - Conference room
5 - Field day - Meeting at a plantation with pruning demonstrations, machine shows and workshops related to setting up plantations
VI Blueberry Conference photo gallery: http://jagodnik.pl/vi-miedzynarodowa-konferencja-borowkowa-pierwsze-zdjecia/