It’s blueberry harvest season and the sun is shining on the plump delicious blueberries at the Castle Hayne Research Station. Walking the rows and analyzing new varieties is blueberry breeder Maggie Schraber, from the Department of Horticultural Science. With the help of North Carolina researchers and growers, they will produce commercial cultivars that can better withstand mechanical harvest.
Mechanical harvesting is nearly 50% more cost efficient, but often bruises the blueberries reducing market yield and profit. Nearly 70% of high-brush variety blueberries are still hand picked, which is labor intensive and expensive for farmers.
Through recent funding, grants and support, Castle Hayne Research Station has acquired new equipment and refurbished a pack shed. The acquisitions reproduce a setting similar to the commercially marketable blueberry to show how particular varieties will respond to the process.
See how Maggie Schraber and Castle Hayne Research Station’s work will help advance the commercial blueberry harvest.