J. Retamales at the 8th Tucumán International Seminar: "Blueberry Pruning: Why, for what, how and when..."

Jorge Retamales is an Agronomist from the University of Chile, mentioning Fruit and Vineyards, Master of Science and Doctorate from Michigan State University. Professor Retamales is one of the speakers at the 8 International Seminar that will be held next June at the Sheraton Hotel in Tucumán, Argentina.

The researcher has a long history of works, publications and research related to the cultivation of blueberries and on the occasion he will present the topic: "Physiological bases of pruning: Why, why, how and when", a topic that the teacher Retamales has investigated in depth in the last decade and that is very important for producers.

The blueberries need to be pruned annually to maintain a good productive level that allows to harvest a fruit of good quality, in size, flavor and condition. Pruning is the most labor-intensive task after the harvest, so its planning is very important. It is a task that requires trained personnel, because there are differences regarding the species and variety that should be addressed in a specific way.

Cranberry is a species that tends to maintain its load of fruit, unlike other species of larger fruit that tend to eliminate excess after the fruit set, so pruning is a management that acts as a thinner, controlling the excess of floral buds and achieving a balance between leaves and fruit set.

A productive plant must maintain a balance between the growth of its buds, leaves and roots, and the growth of its buds, flowers and fruits. To maintain this balance, the most influential action is the management of pruning. On the contrary, in plants without pruning or with a very soft pruning, there is an excessive increase of growth points and the result is a great branching with short buds and without vigor. The blueberry produces floral buds in the upper part of these buds, which are later transformed into fruit bunches, and vegetative buds in the basal and middle part, which are later transformed into buds with leaves, so that a unity between fruit and leaf that self-sustains, then, if these units have little vigor, this leaf and fruit ratio is not adequate to produce a larger fruit of good quality.

The blueberry does not self-harden, like other species, so in unpruned plants there is an excessive load of fruit and little foliage, producing low-weight, small-caliber berries that are not exportable as fresh fruit.

The management of pruning can be done throughout the year, but obviously the period of greatest effect is during recess. What needs to be emphasized is that this task requires a lot of information and training, due to the large number of varieties of existing blueberry plants, which implies a task planned in a very specific way for each of them, so the exhibition of the Professor Retamales is of great importance to producers.

Currently, Jorge Retamales is Professor of pre and postgraduate studies in the Department of Horticulture of the University of Talca, and recently has focused on researching the physiology of minor fruit trees, particularly blueberries and native Chilean strawberries. He participates in breeding programs of both species and is the deputy director of the Strawberry Working Group of the International Society of Horticultural Sciences (ISHS), of which he has been the representative of Chile for the last 12 years, and has been president of the Society Chilena de Fruticultura for the last 10 years.

Martín Carrillo O. - Blueberries Consulting

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